history and mythology, part 3

Distinction: Mythology is the study of myth. It is also their telling. The attitude that we take toward the factual past depends partly on how we determine facts and which facts we consider important. Facts are real in the sense that “things happen.” But I’m interested in why some stories take priority over others and how they are told. I don’t necessarily come at the subject matter of British literature in a pure literature sense, because that’s not an approach that I feel, from my point of view, gives people a sense of the possibilities of what people have said and done in human experience, in a past that can be constructed that will help people make decisions about what they face today. Rina finds it interesting that the Victorians were human beings (I know, Sarina, this is an exaggeration of your point). The question becomes: whom does it serve to insist that the Victorians were prudes? Why would those who came after assume this notion?
3.saddam.dental.gif. Source CNN
Saddam Hussein has been found, looking, as Calpundit writes, like “Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa.” Interesting because at the dinner table today my wife and I were careful to explain to our kids that that bad cat on the TV wasn’t Santa Claus, though he sort of looks like Santa after his seasonal cruise. The way I picture it.

Do the subjects of myth, in a sense, provide rhetorical frames for expressing ideas? Saddam, this strange human monster (I can see McCarthy’s judge whispering sweet nothings in his ear), on TV, the inside of his gaping mouth, flashlight orange.

I’m not a Santayana epistemologist who agrees that we will repeat our mistakes if we avoid the study of history. We have to act; we can’t avoid action. Say a guy named B falls in love. He’s smacked by it. It’s like an ocean he’s fallen into. Where’s he going to go for advice?

By examining the cultural products, however they are made or what they are, such as Watchmen or Blood Meridian or Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” or our work in Iraq, what do we learn? I find it odd the video on TV of the long lines of people waiting for the rare Flu shot; they are a line of people like any other in any other time.

The Flu, it would seem, is a new Grendel.

5 thoughts on “history and mythology, part 3

  1. Rina

    Whom does it serve to insist that the Victorians were prudes?Why would those who came after assume this notion?These are really good questions Mr. E. Because they help us to explore our attachments and/ or aversions to myths.But the answers, I’m afraid, are very abstract.Why? Because the answers involve the exploration of the manifestation of consciousness and identity.And even the formulation of that last sentence caused a slight throb behind my right eye.***ouch***So, before I even begin to tackle some semblance of a response…I wonder what your thoughts on these loaded questions are.

  2. ersinghaus

    I’m glad you asked. But the answers are crude. But first survey some of your friends who aren’t history students whether they think the Victorians were prudes. I think you’ll get interesting answers.

  3. Rina

    Hear ye! Hear ye!All non-history majors!Lend me your ears!Delete from your memory what I said about seeing naked Victorian people in compromising positions with my own eyes.Do you think the Victorians were prudes?If the visuals of naked Victorian people in compromising positions are impossible to remove from your memory***full body shudder***Then…do you think that they were especially religious people?

  4. gibb

    Without supporting evidence, I would think that the history books gave rather a mythological viewpoint of the Victorian as a prude, based upon perhaps Queenie V. herself–although I’d heard she kept a lover.
    As a lifelong reader of all types of literature, and as a picture framer who’s just about seen it all, my image for many years now of the Victorian era is hardly one of lack of self-indulgence and sensuality. I believe that the middle class in any society in any period of history both lives the life and writes the books. They then give themselves a self-created norm by which to live their lives, leaving history biased and unclear.

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