Sunday, December 14th, 2003
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?
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.