suggested initial definition of myth among us

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Sun, 19 May 1996 11:56:40 CDT

including me, so why don't you delete right now.]
"Our own myths are exemplified by, though not exclusive to, what the
typical white male college graduate in the USA supposes he Knows about
the past, assuming he majored in anything but History (or perhaps even
if he did but eschewed the Honours Program)." The restrictions obviate
the necessity for Dealing With thorny problems like "myth variants" and
The foregoing emphasizes the conformist socialization of elites and
sub-elites, which we share with the *gymnasia* of the Classical and
Hellenistic world: There, transmission of the full-blown versions of
Greek Mythology as well as the Classical textual canon (Homer, Hesiod,
Herodotus, etc) was restricted to the *merely educated*, as the *ephebe*s
were supposed to become.
My usage, "the merely educated," is not to be confused with possessors
of "deep learning," professionalized scholarship, "vast erudition," or
"creativity," whatever should be meant by the latter. People of suchlike
types are poorly-handled by the sociology of knowledge, even in its
postmodernist-poststructuralist form, where the latter is comprehensible
only to another practitioner, and the subject-matter tends to be yet a
third practitioner, the latter preferably absent or slightly deceased.
That is, again, "Individual genius is what gives sociology fits. Out,
damned outlier; out, I say!"
"Sour grapes," I call that (lest you do first).

You don't ask, you don't care, "If Serious Myth is for elites and
subelites, what do you call what I presume you believe are Garbled Messes
of Hotchpotch subsetted from mangled variants of the aforesaid Serious
Myth among the dys-privileged and dys-karmatic? How do you Deal With
Fairy Tales? What do you call Horatio Alger? Alger Hiss? The Snake
In The Garden, the Boll In The Weevil? Deal With that! Hah! Hah!
Elsewhen. For me, the supreme Expert in Dealing With is my poor
dear lost love, Diane Bennett, long may she wave. <sob><sniff>.

Myth is to be distinguished, quite readily, from, eg, overt ideological
formulations, ie, in doctrinal form. Example: neo-liberal/"free-market"
economics. This, according to Eric Hobsbawm, The Age Of Excess, 1995, is
"Theology." (Scholars of lesser eminence than the great Hobsbawm are to
be cautioned against uttering the same or committing it to writing, as
this is Unsound and Unprofessional.) This characterization is repeated
so many times in the book that there is no residual possibility he is
kidding; and he is familiar with, or at least cognizant of, any social
theory or doctrine anywhere-worth-knowing-about since the French Revolution.
(This is one of the uses of Individual Genius.) I mention this as such
length to suggest topics for the anthropological study of its own
background-assumed-culture beyond the current topic, Myth.

As this is written, the inhabitants, soon-to-become-denizens (should
they not starve) of Russell, Kansas are being mythologized. Fortunately
for someone claiming to have been representative of them in mythologizing
himself, their farm-price-support-subsidized way of life has afforded
them desultory subsistence thus far; among those Thingies suffering
qualifies one for is even greater suffering; and thuswise hardknocked,
the subsidies have been recently abolished toward their greater misery.
"Behold I was a scummy starveling like you, struck by famine which is
Personkind's, thank you, Elizabeth, *oldest* eating disorder. Should
I not make it to that House of Pinkos where I'm bound, fellow armenians
[frankly I'd sleep under a Beltway overpass before I'd spend one voluntary
night in this dumb burg, suckers], I shall Return home to starve along
with *you*, we shall all Go Together; and we'll call it Hunger Strike!"

Living embodiments of Myth come in several varieties among ourselves
alone: clergy, veterans, farmers ("The farmers are *sacred*," said a
British political scientist writing of the USA in the early 1960s; and
since then French peasants have joined them as a Vanishing National
Treasure. The film Field of Dreams is not exclusively about the Myth
of archaic baseball.). Herodotus knew this full well; so, on the light
side, did Aristophanes.

Of all the shared nontruth in our culture, the one in particular, that
is, most problematic for our Reference Standard's (recall, what we apply
to the Barbarians out there in our own Updated Barbarology) pretense to
Scientific Objectivity, only a small portion may be construed as representing
Serious Myth. The Guiding Light (remember that?) behind this is, "Every
figment in its proper place before it ceases to exist; the whole job complete
before the End Of The World. (The way to bet. The book by Drews, mentioned
yesterday, The End of the Bronze Age, 1993, is real rouser-wowser End of the
World - "Catastrophe" in the subtitle - story; and every factoid is guaranteed

When the lad sings,
"Dunno muchabout history,
"Dunno much about geometry,
"Dunno much about science books,
"Dunno much about the French I took,
"But I do know that I love you,
"And I know that you love me too,
"Whaddawunnerful world this could beehee."

We gotta give him, I'm saying, an A for ideological socialization, never-
theless; for he's Picked Up On:
1. Self-attributional locus-of-control, as opposed to External-Blaming,
assumption of Full Personal Guilt for his consignment to the Secondary Labour
Market on grounds of educational nonachievement, via his own fleawill; and,
2. Romantic love, the ideological currency for transactions in the serial-
marital/modular-familial mate-selection/sexual-selection marketplace.
No small victory for the secondary school system, exiguously funded as
it is in The Lower Depths, in terms of absorbtion of nontruth congenial to
hegemonists. (I hate this word, hegemonists, but can't find as good a
substitute as Inferior for subaltern. Your suggestion appreciated. Winner
gets one hegemonist as a housepet, caged; unless female, in which case it
serves as perpetual au pair girl or Filipina-surrogate. Women In Cages is
simply not allowed. The current parenthesis was necessitated by Alan Sokal,
PhD; qv.)

Daniel A. Foss