A myth is a lie that conveys a truth. CS Lewis
All Stories are True Stories.
And if they aren’t true they are an empty narrative disguised as Story; mere journalism used to record a plot whose only purpose is to pass the time for consumers and make money for the Capitalist machine.
We have bought into the lie that truth and fact are the same, that something can only be true if it is an actual, provable, historical fact. This is a deep falsehood that distorts our own nature and soul. It’s a falsehood that’s lead to the diminishment and dismissal of story, only to humanity’s detriment.
There’s a power in Story, in Myth. A power to tell deep truth. It’s in the very nature of Story to be True, whether the events happened or not. If something is vital and important to our humanity it is recorded in Story, in Myth. Because Myth is simply more important than History as Joseph Campbell said. Myth takes familiar things and transmits them to the strange so that we can see them clearer, understand them better and pass them on more memorably. Story takes the deep meaning of our pains and joys and questions and uses a metaphor to understand them, to unpack them. Story and Myth takes metaphor and uses it to neuter our fears, to give them a face so they can be defeated; uses it to personify our questions and tackle them; uses it to give voice to our dreams to achieve them. It is this which makes Story and Myth True.
Tales and dreams are the Shadow-Truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgot. Neil Gaiman
Sadly following the enlightenment and the rise of Capitalism there has been a shift in paradigm that has reduced Story to the realm of the child. The Dragon of Capitalism whose core purpose is the acquisition of Capital and its jealous retention only sees humans as a Consumer (to make profit from), a productive worker or as one of the lucky few at the top of the pyramid. In such a world Productivity becomes an idol, idleness becomes a vice and vital ingredients of human experience (such as appreciation of beauty, the joy of friendship and even Story itself) are mere shadows; tools used to sell more products,prods to make us more productive and terrors used to dissuade us from overturning the system itself. In such a society, Story is dangerous for it shows the truth of what the system is and it shows the truth of what Humanity can and should be. So yes of course the powers that be have worked tirelessly to render the truth telling power of myth inert. The dominant worldview where “The Real” and the tangible are given totemic status – elevated to non-negotiables, unarguable solidity that diminishes imagination – drives the devaluation of Story. We have elevated Fact and in so doing have ironically lost Truth.
When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe. Madeleine L’engle
This poisonous worldview that eschews the value and necessity of Story and equates Myth with lies – the exact opposite of its authentic purpose – has even infected the Church. They are so focused on proving that Noah’s Flood (for example) actually happened exactly as described that they’ve missed what the Story is about. Obsessed by making sure everyone knows they are right, but missing the Truth. And it’s why there are some Christians are so shocked when I state that some of the Narratives in the Christian Scriptures are Myth – they believe i am saying they are not true, when in fact that is the opposite of what I am saying; They are more/most true for being passed to us via Myth.
Far from being lies (myths and stories) were the best way, sometimes the *only* way, of conveying truths that would otherwise remain inexpressible. …The myths woven by us reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Myths steer, however shakily, toward the true harbour. JRR Tolkein
And yet even in this context those who wish to control us, to keep us apathetic and sleeping, to hide the truth from us, cannot completely deny the power of Story. And so they use and abuse it. They use it in such a way as to reduce it to mere plot, keeping the Proles entertained with pretty baubles that keep them on the edge of their seat. This is what Soaps are essentially for (as well as excellent advertising revenue!); it’s why narrative driven “reality” shows are great fodder for TV. They’re pretending to be Stories, whilst Simultaneously neutering the Purpose of Story (and they’re cheap because one doesn’t have to pay real Storytellers). The PTBs also use narrative to sell their lies – Schrodinger’s immigrant, EU conquerors, English exceptionalism, Make America Great Again, White superiority (I talked about this a little bit at the beginning of the Yoko Factor). They use the diminished power of Story to sell us cars and perfume and toothpaste and (trying not to swear here!) Insurance! The truth is, they need to use something powerful like Story to sell you these things, because most of them are things you do not need and wouldn’t want unless they told you that you want them.
This narrative without meaning, without a deeper truth, stripped of its deeper magic is but a shell used to sell us a sham and it is the biggest lie there is. It’s why I deeply dislike the charlatans that use narrative to lie in order to manipulate and acquire power. It’s why I really, really don’t like soaps. When the artistic form of narrative is used to convey something other than truth, it twists the nature of storytelling and abuses the gift of the storyteller – and separates us just that little bit more from our myth-making, storytelling creator.
Thankfully, by the Grace of God, True Storytelling and Myth survives. True Bards and Storytellers still share their wisdom, open our dreams, display our hopes and quell our fears with metaphor and deeper meaning. And there will always be a part of us humans, in reflecting our Imageo Dei, that will seek out True Stories and their meaning, that can see what a Story is about as much as its plot. That understands a Story is more true than mere fact. And it’s Story itself that can help us expose the charlatans, fake news purveyors and liars that are currently pushing us to the edge of somewhere wholly unholy.
“For fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it’s true. Children know that. Adults know it too and that’s precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons because they are afraid of freedom.” Ursula Le Guin