Friday, April 15, 2005

Stories and Myths

I have some thoughts on stories and myths. However, my definitions are not conventional. The first, about stories, means any tale that has easily found details. So something that was recounted in yesterdays newspaper, or something like The Lord of the Rings, is a story. In either of those cases, you can find out much about the surrounding details. A myth, on the other hand, is something that is very obscure. You can figure out the basic plot, but the dates etc. cannot be known for sure. In a myth, you may know that someone drew a sword, but you probably won't know much about that sword. I must admit that myth is not the most desirable word for this idea, but it is the only one that gets close.

So, to begin with stories. Stories are easy to come across, you have probably read several today. They are practical, and don't leave too much room for the imagination. You can read stories about a scientific expedition, or a crime, or an imaginary happening. But they usually have many details filled in. That is one of the strengths of good stories. With something like LOTR, you could read about different details for your entire life and still find something new. The same goes for history. Although time is finite, there seems to be an infinite amount of details that can be discovered. This is all good, God designed it that way anyways. However, there is a downside. Stories portray detailed truth, not leaving much room for the imagination. The greatest strength of stories is also the greatest weakness.

Myths, they are different altogether. You can hear a myth and imagine all kinds of details. Maybe the hero's sword had a gold cross-bar. Maybe it was black iron so it wouldn't attract attention. The house may have been made of red bricks, or brown bricks, or papier-mache. Myths let the hearer figure out the details in his brain. Of course, this greatest strength is also a greatest weakness. For the same reason that you can imagine details, you cannot know too much for sure.

Both stories and myths have their uses, which one do you prefer?


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