back to myth


In the South, there’s a popular bumper sticker that reads IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE DRIVERLESS. At a time when literalists are loud and creationists expend so much energy twisting the beautiful stories of the Bible into pseudoscience, this is an excellent occasion to raise three cheers for myth—to praise it, revive it, show off its protean splendor. In A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong’s brief work introducing Canongate’s new Myth series, she makes a case for this sacred form’s contemporary relevance. “Like a novel, an opera or a ballet, myth is make-believe; it is a game that transfigures our fragmented, tragic world, and helps us to glimpse new possibilities by asking ‘what if?'” A myth is powerful for precisely the same qualities that a literal reader might deride—there are knots and holes in the story, and the meanings are unfixed. In other words, it predicates its own retelling.

more from Bookforum here.