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Mythos Schmythos 
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Post Mythos Schmythos
The more I think about Karen Armstrong's attempt to rehabilitate Myth for the modern world, the more it seems to me that it is deeply flawed.

We are told: "Unless we find some significance in out lives, we mortal men and women fall very easily into despair. The mythos of a society provided people with a context that made sense of their day-to-day lives; it directed their attention to the eternal and the universal"

A key question is to ask how exactly myth is going to bring meaning into our lives, and in particular how it is able to do that in a way that is vastly superior to say poetry or other forms of literature? And the answer, of course, is that myth is more potent because it is "at some level true" in a way that poetry or, say, drama is not. And that "level" is exquisitely well chosen so that it is too deep to be challenged by those superficial rationalists, but not so deep that it fails to have power to affect our lives profoundly. So the myth says that "Jesus was God and he died for our sins", and that is not all literally true, but it "contains a truth" that has deep significance for us.

Well, no, Karen. When you say that, what you are really telling us is that you still have a profound need for a supernatural meaning in your life - a need to feel that underlying what you perceive to be a mundane reality, there is something powerful and personal and deeply loving. I think I understand why people with a religious upbringing might feel this way, but I am also very sure that you are heading down the wrong path. Because many of us have come to the realization that it is possible to be perfectly content with human life the way it really is. As the Zen practitioners say it, "The world is already perfect just the way it is, if only you could learn to see it rightly".

The best way forward is to confront fully the truth of the world - being determined to face it no matter how disappointing it may be - then to start again from the bottom and ask where is the meaning, where is the joy, in a world such as I see it to be. The encouraging thing is that, if you really look for them, you will find many people who have done this and come out on the other side with total success. They know why their lives are meaningful even without an other-worldly sanction, and they have found a way to live in the real world with great serenity and joy and satisfaction.




Wed Jan 26, 2005 6:17 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
yup




Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:53 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
But we DO have myth in our lives...it IS our poetry and blockbuster movies and the promise of a better life through lottery winnings and the belief that we CAN succeed with effort and not just because we were born into a wealthy family...or because of cronyism or just plain LUCK.

The masses are anesthetized with crap from those who control them. We still create our myths to help us get by. The myths may have changed from the supernatural and heroic tales to the mundane, but they are still mechanisms to help the masses cope.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:15 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
Mr. P.
You make a valid point. If a myth is something which has importance to us, and we believe to be true but isn't, then we will clearly have difficulty detecting the myths we believe in



Mon Jan 31, 2005 11:18 am
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
Ok...hee hee...

If it takes skill and hard work to achieve, how did George W. Bush get to be President?

I mean honestly, if his name was not Bush, he would be a below avergage person in everyway.


:lol

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
I don't think ability or hard work are essential to success



Mon Jan 31, 2005 6:38 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
Quote:
I don't think ability or hard work are essential to success



Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:11 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
Mr. P wrote: Damn! I just do not get this at all from reading this...maybe I AM dense like my wife says!

I don't think so. I agree that a lot of the time what KA says is simply a sociological description of how people in myth driven societies work



Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:19 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
Quote:
I think people who play up the opposition are trying to carve out some domain of discourse which is protected, immune from rational challenge. This is, I believe, extremely dangerous because it is clearly possible to use artful means to whip up emotion about something by distorting and manipulating the underlying facts, and then the attempt to immunize the resulting art (or myth) from rational critique prevents its fraudulence from being exposed.


I am beginning to see what you and Mad are putting your finger on, but I am still tending not to agree. I am still early into the book, so I cannot fully dissertate on this proposition or offer my arguments against it.

I can just say that I do not feel this right now. I see Armstrong highlighting the different natures of mythos and logos, but do not see how that makes her quixotic in her intentions. Armstrong has acknowledged the duality of human nature and has stressed the importance of each paradigm in making us who we are. The way I see it, and I may have written this in another thread so forgive my repetition, she simple points out how mythos and logos have changed roles from dominant to submissive and vice-versa.

I for one do not want to see myth make a comeback; by myth I mean those myths that tend to make humans irrational and trick us into believing they are truth and not the myths of modernity (movies, fiction, and storytelling) that we know are purely for entertainment and insight. But the old mythos is still apparent in the fundamentalist movements. It drives them. There are people I know that talk about the rapture as if it is just around the bend. Many, and I THINK this includes our current President, believe that we are indeed in the end times...this is scary because with all the destructive capability we and other nations have, we can very well see the end times MADE to happen, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mr. P.




Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:38 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
I for one do not want to see myth make a comeback; by myth I mean those myths that tend to make humans irrational and trick us into believing they are truth

I'm afraid they never left. Nor will they ever leave. They're a part of culture, and I think that, were we able to do so, removing myth altogether would make us incapable of functioning altogether. Reason is a tool that must work on a content; without symbol and its cognate myth, I suspect you would find the content available to logos so limited as to make us capable of no thought more sophisticated than that available to an animal.

I'll get around to your replies on chapter one either tomorrow or Saturday. I've got somewhere else to be right now.




Thu Feb 03, 2005 11:58 pm
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Post Re: Mythos Schmythos
I I know that mythos still exists, never left and that it is necessary...by not make a comeback, I meant not be as relevant as it was in history...that it does not influence actual policy or pursuit of knowledge as it had in the past.

No Inquisitions, persecutions, witch hunts or stiffling of scientific inquiry. Basically, that it knows and keeps its place.

But with what is going on nowadays, with the Muslim Terrorists and the Christian whackos that are in office now...I just don't know. It actually worries me.

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:49 am
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Post Re: RE: Mythos Schmythos
We do not need myth to ascribe value to our existence...at least not in every aspect of our lives. It seems, Mad, that you believe this to be true.

No, I wouldn't say that's the purpose of myth, although it may help make that possible at times. It would be difficult to say that Christian mythology hadn't made life more meaningful for Christians, but I wouldn't say that's characteristic of every myth, even among those that have been uniquely successful.

I'm looking forward to your full response to my earlier post.




Tue Feb 08, 2005 1:44 pm
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Post keeping up with Mad
yes Mr. P, I concur wholeheartedly, Mad is definitely keeping me on my toes also. Just when I think I am ready to add a response, Mad has already added something new and I have to go back and revise my response. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that Mad is someone with whom I cannot keep up, but as long as Mad stays within my sight, I can at least be in the race. But then again, everyone on this site keeps my brain racing, especially in the middle of the night.




Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:55 pm
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Post Re: keeping up with Mad
Oh, I have spent many nights in bed "typing" responses! lol

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Feb 08, 2005 4:35 pm
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Post Re: keeping up with Mad
You guys have had the ill fortune to catch me in a topic that I've been studying for a number of years. There are other topics in which you guys will no doubt run circles around me. But keep going -- this is an interesting discussion, and you guys shouldn't come away thinking that you haven't made me work to uphold my end of the discussion.




Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:51 pm
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