By Karen Armstrong
"Human beings have constantly been mythmakers.” So starts off best-selling author Karen Armstrong’s concise but compelling research into delusion: what it truly is, the way it has advanced, and why we nonetheless so desperately want it. She takes us from the Paleolithic interval and the myths of the hunters correct as much as the "Great Western Transformation” of the final years and the discrediting of fantasy by means of technological know-how. The background of delusion is the background of humanity, our tales and ideology, our interest and makes an attempt to appreciate the realm, which hyperlink us to our ancestors and every different. Heralding an important sequence of retellings of foreign myths through authors from world wide, Armstrong’s usually insightful and eloquent booklet serves as a super and thought-provoking creation to fantasy within the broadest senseand explains why if we brush off it, we achieve this at our peril.
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Extra resources for A Short History of Myth
Religion has been one of the most traditional ways of attaining ecstasy, but if people no longer find it in temples, synagogues, churches or mosques, they look for it elsewhere: in art, music, poetry, rock, dance, drugs, sex or sport. Like poetry and music, mythology should awaken us to rapture, even in the face of death and the despair we may feel at the prospect of annihilation. If a myth ceases to do that, it has died and outlived its usefulness. It is, therefore, a mistake to regard myth as an inferior mode of thought, which can be cast aside when human beings have attained the age of reason.
We have imagination, a faculty that enables us to think of something that is not immediately present, and that, when we first conceive it, has no objective existence. The imagination is the faculty that produces religion and mythology. Today mythical thinking has fallen into disrepute; we often dismiss it as irrational and self-indulgent. But the imagination is also the faculty that has enabled scientists to bring new knowledge to light and to invent technology that has made us immeasurably more effective.
The Neanderthal graves tell us five important things about myth. First, it is nearly always rooted in the experience of death and the fear of extinction. Second, the animal bones indicate that the burial was accompanied by a sacrifice. Mythology is usually inseparable from ritual. Many myths make no sense outside a liturgical drama that brings them to life, and are incomprehensible in a profane setting. Third, the Neanderthal myth was in some way recalled beside a grave, at the limit of human life.