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Re: [mythsoc] How does myth "work"?

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  • James Curcio
    Don t mistake the vaguely academic tone in some of that material for an overly logical approach in regard to myths, directly. But there is talking ABOUT
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 19, 2012
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      Don't mistake the vaguely academic tone in some of that material for an overly logical approach in regard to myths, directly. But there is talking ABOUT something, and there is doing it. I do both, but when I'm in the analytical mode, how else does one write an essay? 

      --------------------------------------------------
      Independently produced, genre-bending works of modern mythology: http://www.mythosmedia.net
      The Modern Mythology blog: http://www.modernmythology.net

      --------------------------------------------------




      On Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 12:48 PM, <scribbler@...> wrote:
       

      Well, considering that I've written a book about myth and storytelling (a
      reference for writers), I've given a lot of thought to its presence in our
      lives. And frankly, I think you're still being far to analytical in
      approaching the matter.

      As long as you stay in an analytic mode of thought in considering myth, it
      will stay exterior to you and feel rather dead.

      The major conclusion I came to while working on THE SCRIBBLER'S GUIDE TO
      THE LAND OF MYTH - is that myth is about meaning. The "truth" that myths
      convey all have to do with what things MEAN to us. The variances occur
      because some aspect of life may have a different meaning or priority to
      one group than it does to another. For instance, in arctic cultures, the
      sun is considered the fickle heavenly body because it goes away for six
      months of the year. The moon, even though it has a cycle, is constant.
      Thus, mythically, in arctic cultures, it is the sun that is feminine and
      the moon that is masculine. (Yes, we have an inherent biological
      inclination to regard "male" as the "stable, unchanging" quality and
      "female" as the one that goes through changes.)

      A personal myth will reflect what is importation to that particular
      individual, what has meaning and life to that person. It shows up in small
      ways in the way we as individuals personalize our space and possessions.
      For instance, people who name their cars and endow them with personality.
      Myth is about MEANING - and naming things is one way of creating meaning.
      What we name something, the significance of the name to us.

      Facts about things are straightforward and clear cut.

      Meanings about things are layered with many issues, and thus end up
      requiring a story to convey what is important.

      If you want to have or create a myth of your Self, then just start telling
      a story of meaning to you - or draw on some dream imagery that had such
      meaning for you. Dreams reflect our subconscious language for ourselves,
      and often are the source of the imagery for a personal myth.

      Here's an example of what I mean: My "personal myth" if you will, which
      became clear with a dream. In the dream, I was looking at a brick wall,
      but the bricks were the color of ash. And as I looked, I realized that the
      wall was actually encasing something. Whatever it was, moved, and the
      bricks fell apart, because they actually WERE ash. And underneath, I could
      see the gleaming, golden scales of a dragon - it was waking up, and
      beginning to break out of the encasement. And I knew that I was that
      dragon. This made me very happy.

      That's a "personal myth." I can break it down and analyse the significance
      of the elements of this dream/story. But I also happen to just like it as
      it is.

      A personal myth is what has meaning to you. You can't decide the meaning
      first and then concoct a story to follow. The meaning and the story are a
      unity, and the "truth" of it will not be obvious to you until you start
      telling the story. Don't try to work from the truth back to the story --
      that will only give you "facts." Just start telling the story and the
      truth will make itself known.

      That's my two cents on the issue.

      Best, Sarah Beach


    • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
      ... Oh, I quite agree that that is the difficulty about trying to get inside myth in order to write about it. Objective analysis keeps you outside looking
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 19, 2012
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        > Don't mistake the vaguely academic tone in some of that material for an
        > overly logical approach in regard to myths, directly. But there is talking
        > ABOUT something, and there is doing it. I do both, but when I'm in the
        > analytical mode, how else does one write an essay?

        Oh, I quite agree that that is the difficulty about trying to "get inside"
        myth in order to write about it. Objective analysis keeps you outside
        looking in, but you can be precise and use words with specificity. But to
        consider myth from inside is inevitably a subjective experience, because,
        as I said, myth is about meaning, about what "something means to me" or
        you (as the case may be). And subjective evaluations are slippery things.
        "Oh, that's just YOUR (subjective) opinion!" As though there was something
        nasty about subjective experience.

        As so, to write about myth in any way is a great challenge. There are no
        short answers. If you wish to consider what your personal myth would look
        like, you need to being by considering what things are important to you,
        and what imagery speaks most powerfully to you. Analytically speaking, you
        may be able to determine WHY those images have that power - which may or
        may not affect the way you shape your personal myth.
      • James Curcio
        I agree, I wrote and had published two books (one rather long - The Immanence of Myth) and one rather short (Apocalyptic Imaginary) on the subject. I don t
        Message 3 of 9 , Oct 19, 2012
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          I agree, I wrote and had published two books (one rather long - The Immanence of Myth) and one rather short (Apocalyptic Imaginary) on the subject. I don't consider them final in any regard or form whatsoever. That wasn't the point. Nor do I consider them authoritative because on this issue there is no singular authority. But they do, I believe, come from a genuine place when you take it all in, and are meant to help other people find something for themselves. If in a somewhat labyrinthine way out of necessity. If that's helped even one person, I think I've accomplished something. I think from the student responses at least they seemed to really get something from it though they were admittedly rather baffled at first. 
          --------------------------------------------------
          Independently produced, genre-bending works of modern mythology: http://www.mythosmedia.net
          The Modern Mythology blog: http://www.modernmythology.net

          --------------------------------------------------




          On Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM, <scribbler@...> wrote:
           

          > Don't mistake the vaguely academic tone in some of that material for an
          > overly logical approach in regard to myths, directly. But there is talking
          > ABOUT something, and there is doing it. I do both, but when I'm in the
          > analytical mode, how else does one write an essay?

          Oh, I quite agree that that is the difficulty about trying to "get inside"
          myth in order to write about it. Objective analysis keeps you outside
          looking in, but you can be precise and use words with specificity. But to
          consider myth from inside is inevitably a subjective experience, because,
          as I said, myth is about meaning, about what "something means to me" or
          you (as the case may be). And subjective evaluations are slippery things.
          "Oh, that's just YOUR (subjective) opinion!" As though there was something
          nasty about subjective experience.

          As so, to write about myth in any way is a great challenge. There are no
          short answers. If you wish to consider what your personal myth would look
          like, you need to being by considering what things are important to you,
          and what imagery speaks most powerfully to you. Analytically speaking, you
          may be able to determine WHY those images have that power - which may or
          may not affect the way you shape your personal myth.


        • dimwoo
          Hi James, Thanks for your links, interesting reads. I also moved on to your Living Your Myth piece. The comment on Friedrich Schelling was especially
          Message 4 of 9 , Oct 22, 2012
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            Hi James,

            Thanks for your links, interesting reads. I also moved on to your "Living Your Myth" piece.

            The comment on Friedrich Schelling was especially pertinent to me:

            "..set a new tone by rejecting all attempts to impose on myth a secondary `meaning,' be it euhemeristic or allegorical. Instead he applied to myth the term `tautological,' implying that it must be understood on its own terms as an autonomous configuration of the human spirit, with its own mode of reality and content that cannot be translated into rational terms."

            This chimes very much with the Lewis and Tolkien quotes I posted and will be useful in my essay.

            Weaponized.net is in Guildford? That's just down the road from here. Amazing how you can feel that no one shares your interests...

            I haven't read your material closely. To me your definition of myth may be too broad to be useful. If we recognise the myths we live by, won't that then "kill" them?

            Thanks


            Steve




            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, James Curcio <jamescurcio@...> wrote:
            >
            > What I can offer to this question is two sided.
            >
            > One, looking at myth as a personal phenomenon as well as a cultural one:
            >
            > http://www.modernmythology.net/p/what-is-modern-myth.html
            >
            > Second, looking at the predomenant myth of our times, though this is an
            > excerpt from a much longer book that goes more in depth:
            >
            > http://www.scribd.com/doc/55984853/IoM-is-Myth-Dead (feel free to skip the
            > intro though it has a few things that may be useful.) This book was taught
            > in several classes at SUNY Binghamton so it could be a worthwhile reference
            > for you depending on your angle of approach.
            >
            > I hope these are at all helpful to you or others on the list.
            >
            > JC
            >
            > --------------------------------------------------
            > *Independently produced, genre-bending works of modern mythology: *
            > http://www.mythosmedia.net
            > *The Modern Mythology blog:* http://www.modernmythology.net
            >
            > *Past work*: http://www.jamescurcio.com
            > *My LinkedIn*: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescurcio
            > --------------------------------------------------
            > *
            > *
            >
            >
            >
          • James Curcio
            Good question. I m not sure if there s a point in defining myth in a singular way. There s a chapter in The Immanence of Myth that deals with a series of
            Message 5 of 9 , Oct 22, 2012
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              Good question. 

              I'm not sure if there's a point in defining myth in a singular way. There's a chapter in The Immanence of Myth that deals with a series of problems, or reasons why looking for a definition is kind of beside the point-- though I'll be the first to admit that that book is intentionally provisional in many ways, I don't pretend finality on any issue.

              I think what is more important is looking at the different ways that the word is used, if you want to look externally - but my focus is much more on the internal, in which case the focus is instead on the narrative process through which we come to know ourselves, which is the closest I would come to a definition of myth- myself. The fact that it resonates with many people, transmits, and transforms over time through the collective needs of those time speaks to, I think, the common elements of our mutual experience. 

              --------------------------------------------------
              Independently produced, genre-bending works of modern mythology: http://www.mythosmedia.net
              The Modern Mythology blog: http://www.modernmythology.net

              --------------------------------------------------




              On Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 9:19 AM, dimwoo <dimwoo@...> wrote:
               

              Hi James,

              Thanks for your links, interesting reads. I also moved on to your "Living Your Myth" piece.

              The comment on Friedrich Schelling was especially pertinent to me:

              "..set a new tone by rejecting all attempts to impose on myth a secondary `meaning,' be it euhemeristic or allegorical. Instead he applied to myth the term `tautological,' implying that it must be understood on its own terms as an autonomous configuration of the human spirit, with its own mode of reality and content that cannot be translated into rational terms."

              This chimes very much with the Lewis and Tolkien quotes I posted and will be useful in my essay.

              Weaponized.net is in Guildford? That's just down the road from here. Amazing how you can feel that no one shares your interests...

              I haven't read your material closely. To me your definition of myth may be too broad to be useful. If we recognise the myths we live by, won't that then "kill" them?

              Thanks

              Steve

              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, James Curcio <jamescurcio@...> wrote:
              >
              > What I can offer to this question is two sided.
              >
              > One, looking at myth as a personal phenomenon as well as a cultural one:
              >
              > http://www.modernmythology.net/p/what-is-modern-myth.html
              >
              > Second, looking at the predomenant myth of our times, though this is an
              > excerpt from a much longer book that goes more in depth:
              >
              > http://www.scribd.com/doc/55984853/IoM-is-Myth-Dead (feel free to skip the
              > intro though it has a few things that may be useful.) This book was taught
              > in several classes at SUNY Binghamton so it could be a worthwhile reference
              > for you depending on your angle of approach.
              >
              > I hope these are at all helpful to you or others on the list.
              >
              > JC
              >
              > --------------------------------------------------
              > *Independently produced, genre-bending works of modern mythology: *
              > http://www.mythosmedia.net
              > *The Modern Mythology blog:* http://www.modernmythology.net
              >
              > *Past work*: http://www.jamescurcio.com
              > *My LinkedIn*: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescurcio
              > --------------------------------------------------
              > *
              > *
              >
              >
              >


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