Life is myth

Life is myth, but we have forgotten it as such.

It is anti-social to talk of life as myth, as many negative images and connotations are interpreted. Myth does not mean lack of seriousness, it does not mean an attack on science, it does not mean superstition, it is not anti-materialistic. Myth is how we understand our world.

We live in myths handed down to us; custom is our nature (Pascal). We derive new myths in the context of existing ones.

Us moderns recognising life as myth connects us more deeply to our ancient ancestors who were not shy at all to delve into mythology. It helps us to negate the superiority complex that would have us believe that we understand the world better than generations before. Our ancient ancestors had a much more colourful, dramatic and broad-minded understanding of the world.

Remarkably, many people may agree that our ancestors have lived better lives than us, lives less stressed and full of wonder. Yet they are reticent to associate this better living with better understanding. Moderns are distrustful of the myths though which lives ticked in the ancient world. But could it not have been that these myths provided a better understanding of the world, i.e., a better understanding of the world for living it?

Is not better living the result of better understanding? If better living is not the result of better understanding than exactly what ‘understanding’ are we talking about? What ‘understanding’ do us moderns choose to value and emphasise?

The West lost scientific knowledge as a type of understanding when it lost Alexandria to the Mohammedans. But it did not lose a more important type of understanding, an understanding which is for life. It did not lose its myths.

Today we live in different myths to those of the ancients: progress, consumerism, evolutionary teleology, utilitarian telology, capitalism, scientism, atomical individualism, more-real-than-real mass media, environmentalist cultism, wars involving ‘collateral damage’. Are our myths any better than those of yesteryear? Do they give us better understanding for living? We have long since outgrown our myths, yet we stubbornly cling to them. Perhaps we should re-energize the old myths, perhaps they are better for life?

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One Response to “Life is myth”

  1. Pierre Says:

    Perhaps it is fear of life, fear of staring into an apparently infinite abyss, which makes us presume that understanding is there to be attained, and understanding is there to redeem our existence from that infinite abyss.

    It is thus that we do not live anymore, and rationalize reasons as not to think anymore, and in our downfall in which we are too much submerged to realize, we will hit bottom and ourselves obliterate without realizing what our hands have wrought.

    Existence does not require justifications, when one begins to justify, one has already ceased to live.

    In Nietzsche’s words:

    Might not this very Socratism be a sign of decline, of weariness, of infection, of the anarchical dissolution of the instincts? And the “Greek cheerfulness” of the later Greeks—merely the afterglow of the sunset? The Epicureans resolve against pessimism—a mere precaution of the afflicted? And science itself, our science—indeed, what is the significance of all science, viewed as a symptom of life? For what—worse yet, whence—all science? How now? Is the resolve to be so scientific about everything perhaps a kind of fear of, an escape from, pessimism? A subtle last resort against—truth? And, morally speaking, a sort of cowardice and falseness? Amorally speaking, a ruse? O Socrates, Socrates, was that perhaps your secret? O enigmatic ironist, was that perhaps your—irony?

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