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Katarzyna Wasylak

on 6 January 2016

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Transcript of MYTHS

What is myth?
The word “myth” derives from the Greek mythos: “word,” “speech,” “tale of the gods.”
It can be defined as a narrative in which the characters are gods, heroes, and mystical beings, in which the plot is about the origin of things or about metaphysical events in human life, and in which the setting is a metaphysical world juxtaposed against the real world.
Stories rooted in
historical fact, stories about people who actually lived, but whose exploits have
been greatly exaggerated
stories that are primarily entertaining, and that involve talking animals or
ordinary but clever humans.
2. As traditional stories, myths are different from other forms of stories we may be familiar with (such as novels, films, plays etc.) in that we don’t know who invented them. They are of forgotten or vague origin. The author is lost in time.
4. Myths are ostensibly true. They present themselves as factual accounts of how the things really are. A culture rarely recognizes its own mythology as mythology; when it does so, it no longer believes those myths. In this sense, myth is a category that exists when you’re outside a given culture looking in. From within a given culture, myths are accounts of the way things really are.
5. The purpose of myths is multifarious: myths often explain, justify, instruct or warn. Explanatory myths are called etiological (Greek aetion=cause); charter myths offer a justification for a certain rite or social institution.
Other myths provide instruction about proper behavior of humans.
We may not realize that we are living “mythically,” but ... myths inform all cultures and have a profound, though hidden, impact on our lives in many different ways.
Danesi (2002: 47–48)
Functions of myths
Myth . . . is a traditional religious charter, which operates by validating laws,
customs, rites, institutions and beliefs, or explaining socio-cultural situations
and natural phenomena, and taking the form of stories, believed to be
true, about divine beings and heroes . . . Myths are dramatic stories that form
a sacred charter either authorizing the continuance of ancient institutions,
customs, rites and beliefs in the area where they are current, or approving
(Patai, 1972: 2)
didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles
a literary device in which characters or events in a literary, visual, or musical art form represent or symbolize ideas and concepts.
Karen Armstrong,
The Battle for God
is primary, story; it is concerned with what is timeless and constant in our existence.

It looks to the origins of life, foundations of culture, deepest levels of the human mind.
It is not concerned with practical matters but with meaning.
It is rooted in the unconscious mind, and can’t be demonstrated by rational proof.
Its insights are more intuitive, similar to those of art, music, poetry, sculpture and are embodied in cult, rituals, ceremonies.
It evokes a sense of the sacred, enables comprehension of deeper currents of existence.
It is not much interested in whether an event actually happened, but more concerned with the deeper meaning of the event.
is the rational, pragmatic, scientific thought which enables us to function well in the world.
It relates exactly to facts, corresponds to external realities, works efficiently in the mundane world.
Logos looks ahead, tries to find something new, achieves greater control of environment, invents things.
For most of human history, mythos and logos were in harmony.
Stories that have to do directly with the gods.
Bruno Bettelheim
Fairy tales are more important in the development of children than myths, though both speak to us in the language of symbols.
There is general agreement that myths and fairy tales speak to us in the language of symbols representing unconscious content. Their appeal is simultaneously to our conscious and unconscious mind, to all three of its aspects—id, ego and superego—and to our need for ego ideals as well . . . Although the same exemplary figures and situations are found in both and equally miraculous events occur in both, there is a crucial difference in the way these are communicated.
Put simply, the dominant feeling a myth conveys is this is absolutely unique;
it could not have happened to any other person, or in any other setting . . . By
contrast, although the events which occur in fairy tales are often unusual and
most improbable, they are always presented as ordinary, something that could
happen to you or me or the person next door. (Bettleheim 1976: 36–37)
Ordinary heroes and heroines
Indirect teaching
Typical characters
Simple presentation
No demands made on readers
Happy endings
The typical
Fairy tales
Gods, demigods, heroes, monsters
Direct teaching
Distinctive characters (all named)
Majestic presentation
Many demands made on readers
Tragic endings
The unique
1. Myths are traditional tales or stories. There are many forms of human
communication that are not stories, even if they follow a logical narrative
order (these lectures). Myth is a story. If something is not a story it is not
myth; a representation of myth in artwork is just that: a representation,
but not a myth.
3. Another characteristic is that myths are set in the
. They don’t deal
with what happens in the present. Myths don’t deal with current events;
on the contrary, they concern remote past. Very frequently, they deal with
a time when things in the world, and the order of the world, were different
from what they are now.
6. Very often myths concern gods and the supernatural. In this area myth
overlaps with religion. One useful distinction between the two is to see
religion as what people do to honor their god(s), and to see myth as the
underlying narrative(s) about these gods. Obviously, categorization of
certain narratives about divinities as myths depends entirely on whether
the observer believes those narratives or not. From inside Christianity, the
stories of virgin birth and resurrection are central and factual narratives,
unquestionably true; looked at from outside of Christianity, they are
myths told about the divinity Jesus Christ.
(Arthur Asa Berger 2012: 4)
Our society has become a recited society, in three senses: it is defined by stories ( the fables constituted by our advertising and informational media), by citations of stories, and by the interminable recitation of stories.
(Michel de Certeau1984: 186)
Arthur Asa Berger - a "myth model"
A myth
, defined as a sacred narrative that validates cultural beliefs and practices.
Psychoanalytic reflections of the myth.
Historical manifestations of that myth.
The myth in elite culture.
The myth in mass-mediated or popular culture.
The myth in everyday life.
The myth model: Prometheus
Prometheus steals fire and gives to mankind
Conquerors burn cities, Fires in forests, etc.
Byron’s poem about Prometheus
Fire places, Gas stoves, Campfires, Cigarette lighters
The Hero's Journey
What makes a hero? - Matthew Winkler
Benjamin Bidlack "The Hero's Journey In Modern Life"
The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[b] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”[c]
Matthew 13 (New International Version)
Create your own story
follow the monomyth formula
What are his/her/its:
-final transformation?
Full transcript