Intro To Myth Making
What is a myth?
We shall define myth as a story about human like creatures who have supernatural powers, deal with strange and wonderful creatures, and deal with moral issues that are common to mere mortals. This definition covers stories about Greek and Norse Gods, Jedi Knights, X-Men, Harry Potter’s universe, and much more. In all such stories, a distinction is made between the special (gods, non-muggles, Jedi, mutants) and the normal mortals who lack the special powers. In all such stories, there are many races of beings, be they dryads, giants, elves, or aliens. In all such stories, moral issues lurk in the background of the fantastic tales.
Why is myth so popular?
Some people seem to think that the main part of myth’s appeal is wish fulfillment and certainly this is true in part. But wish fulfillment can be found in most fiction regardless of whether it be romance or adventure stories. What makes myth special is that in myth abstract feelings and vague longings/fears take on concrete form and interacts with reality. Good myth will combine the symbolism of poetry with the concreteness of prose. It will have an expressive range that is greater than “realistic” prose fiction and yet more comprehensible to the average mind then the symbolism of poetry (at least on the surface level).
What separate good myth from bad myth?
Myth is subject to the same types of judgment as any other form of art. But the very broadness of expression that myth allows presents an additional snare to myth creators. If a myth creator uses the freedom myth grants too freely, the result is often a meaningless mess. So one key question that must be asked about myth is why was the unreality in the myth necessary? What was gained by resorting to unreality? If we have a poem that can be translated into prose without losing anything, then it was a poor poem. If we have a mythic element that could be made realistic and not lose anything, then we have a very poor myth.