Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mythos: The Discussion

Mr Pond is right in calling me out for a tendency to absorb a variety of myths, blending them to create my own, personal mythos. I do this on a regular basis, we all do. Part of the nature of living myth is a certain fluidity, an ability to stretch and absorb similar surrounding myths. Does this mean we can make belief into a sample-platter of accepted and rejected beliefs? Not at all, mythology is still, as Mr. Pond so nicely put it, something which "grabs us round the throat and tells us the way the world is." Mythology's ability to alter, absorb, grow, and change is precisely why it can survive in a world that has, for the most part, turned it's back on the mysteries of daily life. Modern mythology may not feel as exciting, as fascinatingly other to us as the mythologies of old, but it does live and grow strong in our modern imaginations, woven in with the myths of old that have lasting power. All this blending is not the result of conscious picking and choosing on the part of the individual, but the of the individual being grabbed again and again by myths which meet each other, blend, and create a complete, living mythos.

This week, Jenna continues our slow, spiraling discussion, bringing our definitions gradually into sharper focus. Mythos is like mythology, only more so. She refers to it primarily as "the overarching story or stories that define and shape a culture." I like this definition - it defines, but with breathing room.  Here and now we are not a unified culture, and the stories that define and shape us vary wildly. What stories define and shape our cultures? What stories unify? I know that when I meet someone who knows my stories: the dangers lurking in the dark, the mysteries we play with, the reasons we bless our home, leave some vegetables in the garden, and keep at least one apple on the tree, I greet him as a long-lost friend - we share the same stories, dream the same dreams.

Jenna is right, our mythoi give us depth, they give meaning even to the lattes and long workdays, they give hope for the future and a sense of belonging in the present, without which we would all drown in the shallow things.

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