360-degree mythology

Modern Mythology by Christopher Murphy, 2017

Humans are not rational, but they tend towards rationality, a famous sociologist once said. Our behaviour, and culture by implication, is not fashioned by facts, but by stories.

A good story will always win over hard fact. The challenge is to marry fact to fiction. The two are customarily seen as polar opposites. The worse myth our culture has produced.

Mythology is not a fact of culture. It is culture itself. The ability to tell stories, to make sense, to generalise, to fictionalise, to stylise, to compromise, to weave, patch and string together is all we have. Literally all we have at our disposal. And everything gravitates around it.

We are surrounded by myths. Even our own understanding of ourselves is a function of myth, the story loosely based on fact that tries to make sense and build structure around it.

Our modern mythology claims to do away with all mythology. Myths are for children. Myths get in the way of science. Myths are for those who don’t have the courage to see reality straight in the face. But it is the myths that really make all of that possible.

There are many constants in the universe, many already discovered and identified. And there is at least one constant in human culture, the pervasive and undying power of myth.

We may not be sitting the centre at the universe (though arguable we may very well be), but mythology is undoubtedly standing at the centre of human existence. So instead of trying to fight it off, maybe we should understand it better.

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