Myths are a very important form of storytelling and provide information through the plot, setting and characters. Anthropologists have referred to mythologies and legends of places and people they have been researching on and have found that myths reveal a great deal about the history, culture, people, religion, lifestyle and environment of a place. Infact what the myth is about and the way the myth is communicated (orally or through some physical medium) in itself is crucial information.
They tell us the difference between what is real and what is not and that it is upto decide. Mythical stories not only inform us about the power of our imagination but also show us how vivid, exciting and incredible that imagined reality can be. Myths sometimes may draw a blurry line between reality and imagination or a very clear one.
The main content of the myth is very crucial to understanding why the myth was created in the first place. This DES project is specifically about the origins of certain crafts in India and the reason why such myths exist is to explain how a practice, how an art form came to be. It is simply a product of wonder.
As M.C. Escher correctly describes that they who wonder discover that this in itself is a wonder. Thus myths are not only gateways to wonder, to imagine, to expand our understanding of a phenomenon but in themselves are wonders.
Our entire lives are spent making sense of the world around us and inside of us. And myths and legends project our trials of answering and making sense as to why certain things are the way they are. However they do not simply inform with bland logic, but with dramatic story arcs and characters both divine & demonic or just humane. They are certainly the result of curiosity, observation, deduction, gratitude and most importantly imagination.
Now myths are really not errors; they are certainly not like the errors in which science abounds: for they always contain reference to some objects and events which could not possibly exist and occur. This being so, there are no statements of observations which could test them scientifically. They are not errors, for their truth, for those who accept them, is preserved for eternity.
- THEORIES OF MYTH* PERCY S. COHEN London School of Economics and Political Science
A myth is a narrative of events and this narrative refers in a dramatic form to origins or transformations. The narrative has a sacred quality and the events/lessons in the narrative are communicated in symbolic form. Many parts of the myth are bound to not occur or exist in reality and that is a significant characteristic of a myth. The narrative quality of the myth sets it apart from a general idea. The narration of events and reference to objects unknown outside of the world of myth differentiates myth from history or pseudo-history. There are many theories of myths. Different theories explain different statements about the myth. Particular theories may, of course, explain several statements about myth and they, therefore, compete, partly or wholly with other theories.
“ Classifying theories of myths is not easy. In offering a classification I do not presuppose that theories are pure in character, but only that they emphasize one or more components more than they do others; my real interest is in the components themselves.”
Some Theories of Myths:
1. Myth as a form of explanation (a form which occurs at a certain stage in the development of human society and culture).
2. Myth is a form of symbolic statement which has the function of expression.
3. Myth as an expression of the unconscious.
4. Myth that helps create and maintain social solidarity, cohesion, etc and stresses its function in legitimating social institutions and social practices.
5. Myth as a form of symbolic statement about social structure, possibly linked with ritual.
Reference: Theories of myth (Percy S. Cohen, London school of economics and political science) Man New Series, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Sep., 1969), pp. 337-353 (17 pages)
The oral traditions and expressions domain encompasses an enormous variety of spoken forms including proverbs, riddles, tales, nursery rhymes, legends, myths, epic songs and poems, charms, prayers, chants, songs, dramatic performances and more. Oral traditions and expressions are used to pass on knowledge, cultural and social values and collective memory. They play a crucial part in keeping cultures alive.
“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.”
- Gerry Spence
On the one hand, a myth always relates to events alleged to have taken place in time: before the world was created or during its first stages - anyway, long ago. But what gives the myth an operative value is that the specific pattern described is everlasting; it explains the present and the past as well as the future.
The Role of the Author
Intentional Fallacy: It doesn’t matter what the author intended. He/She/They are not the final authority of the text. The text itself is. Readers can interpret the text without concern for whether that interpretation was “intended”.
Introduced by W.K. Wimsatt, Jr., and Monroe C. Beardsley in The Verbal Icon (1954), the approach was a reaction to the popular belief that to know what the author intended—what he had in mind at the time of writing— was to know the correct interpretation of the work.
Since the authors of these mythical tales cannot be traced, the analysis supports intentional fallacy.
The Role of the Performer
“ In some societies for some forms of folklore, as has been clearly established, the narrator may be expected to modify a well-known tale by the substitution of new characters or incidents in an original way or the introduction of a novel twist to the plot, whereas in the fields of kinship, economics, law, or religion, the emphasis may be upon conformity. However, in this respect folklore does not differ from the graphic and plastic arts, music, or the dance, where creativity on the part of the performer may also be expected.”
Folklore and Anthropology Author(s): William R. Bascom
Source: The Journal of American Folklore , Oct. - Dec., 1953, Vol. 66, No. 262 (Oct. -Dec., 1953), pp. 283-290
Published by: American Folklore Society
As a student of communication design, I took the role of a storyteller and converted some myths into poems to add nuance and rhythm.