Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#Myth: But Why Do That Hoodoo That You Do?

By Mr. VI

At the risk of treating your like three-year-old children, let's answer the question posed by this subject title. After all, I'm certainly not picturing you whining plaintively as you ask why exactly is myth so important, am I?

Now I'm certainly not picturing you that way, because I don't know how you ask the eternal question "Why?" Equally certainly, I have no idea who you are, because it's not as if I can reach through the screen and stick my fingers into your brains to feel the texture of your thoughts, the grain of your personal universe - and even when/if I do this, just how would you know that it was happening anyway?

William S Burroughs maintained that language was a virus that came from outer space, an invader from outside. Philip K Dick suggested that the Gnostic saviour was actually a symbiotic pairing of human and an alien liberator that has emerged from on high, in the undifferentiated Pleroma outside Creation.

There's always been things just beyond our awareness, just at the edges – shapes and mysterious things that seem to influence the world in ways we don't quite understand. In order to comprehend, to answer the question of “Why?” there is some assuming going on.

The primary assumption you're making is that you live in a causal universe, that things happen because of other things, and that there are reasons for events. There must be a reason why we are so obsessed with myth. Perhaps we are mad?

No  - that has nothing to do with it, let me assure you – our individual insanities are just as real as yours!

Perhaps we hanker for a rational explanation, a basic understanding of what the hell is going on and why myth seems to be a constant companion to humanity? Or perhaps that hankering is driven by a distinctive feeling in your gut that you might be missing something?

It doesn't matter which of these reasons pleases you the most, because the sheer fact is that you might as well pick one at random. We could manufacture 10,000 of these things, and each one would be viable explanations for someone out there.

There's been much research lately, which suggests that you as a human being, are subject to chronic biases in your thinking. Your brain cannot even tell the difference between imagining a movement and doing it. You make chronic errors of judgement based on emotion and environment.

Don't worry, you're not alone. There are billions of people making the same mistakes as you, falling for the narrative fallacy - the psychological urge to believe in cause and effect, to mistake predictability for certainty. It's an old philosophical problem, the problem of induction, and even statisticians fall prey to it.

Now, ask yourself, in a world of limited resources and energy, does it make sense to cut off something that has kept you and the rest of the species alive for its entire history? Maybe, just maybe you might be better off acknowledging your failings and biases, and learning to use them for your own benefit instead of simply reflexively?

It's just a thought, just an idea you may well play with in quiet moments. We, on the other hand, play with it all the time because we like being properly human, and not cutting chunks out of ourselves.

We like playing, and singing, and laughing, and embracing pain and joy. We like telling stories, and we know how important they are to being whole.

What are you, if not human?

Be seeing you.

The author is busily beavering away on his book THE RAVENS' HEAD which will be published by WEAPONIZED in 2012. More details are available here.

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

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