Download e-book for iPad: Myth: A New Symposium by Gregory Schrempp, William Hansen

By Gregory Schrempp, William Hansen

Myth: a brand new Symposium bargains a broad-based evaluate of the current country of fantasy research. It was once encouraged through a revisiting of the influential mid-century paintings fable: A Symposium (edited by means of Thomas Sebeok). a scientific creation and 15 contributions from a large spectrum of disciplines supply a number perspectives on earlier fable learn and recommend instructions for the longer term. individuals mix theoretical research with richly documented historic, ethnographic, and literary illustrations and examples drawn from local American, classical, medieval, and smooth sources.

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Example text

Although he may not have set out to do so, Wheelwright redeems the cultural “other” (and in the process, he redeems himself and, by extension, the rest of us) as a figure far more complex than the two-dimensional stereotypes of “the savage” or “the primitive” would suggest. Here it seems that Wheelwright’s formation in the humanities, with its sensitivity to the coils of human imagination, has usefully tempered the headlong rush of the social sciences to arrive at large-scale generalizations. Wheelwright’s doctrine of the “serious playfulness of belief ” can readily be abstracted from the discussion of “primary” myth and brought forward as a handle on all ideological systems alleging immanent truth.

Story content, becomes a highly imaginative process, the provision of interpretive codes linking story elements into larger paradigms. As Lévi-Strauss has it, “the true constituent units of a myth are not the isolated relations but bundles of such relations and it is only as bundles that these relations can be put to use and combined so as to produce a meaning” (87). Where do we find these thematic containers that give purpose to the mythemes? It is at this stage in the operation, apparently, that a healthy dose of intuition comes into play.

Nevertheless, an analytic definition of myth as a kind of sacred story is problematic. First of all, sacredness appears to be a secondary characteristic of Trobriand mythic stories. They are not somehow inherently sacred; rather, their venerableness is a derivative quality that depends upon their intimate association with religious ceremony, for which they play the important role of providing a charter. But if these Trobriand narratives are regarded as sacred because of their connection with ritual, what about societies that recount stories of their gods but do not tie their stories closely to rituals?

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