Your gonna Myth me, when I'm gone.
'Mythical' charachters and stories are the collection and display of our understanding and realisation of the universality of certain individual experiences and the interplay and exchange of Identity: Personal, Collective and Archetypal which the mythological technique allows us to indulge in imaginatively.It makes it possible, though not certain, to learn from the experience of others; and allows access to the shoulders of the giants who preceded us. To ask, but is it true? is to miss the bus whilst reading the timetable to an extent. Not factually true in linear terms; but complete and instinctual truth as exemplified by the form which emerges from the chaos, and is experienced by your human being, as opposed to your ego or personal experience. That's one of the problems of using mythical realism; whilst heightening some dramatic and emotional aspects of storytelling, it also tends to lead us into being hung up on the veracity or otherwise of the tale.
"A Million Little Pieces" - by James Frey is a classic example. Frey had a very interesting life to start with and he mythologised his life story into a powerful tale of rehabilitation; of his body, mind and spirit - as a proxy for the reader - after the bottom out encounter he had with drugs and modern western society. The mythological aspects of the tale were very powerful and allowed the reader to identify and learn with and from a 23 year old drug addict, they would have no time for in real life.
It was an Oprah book club selection and was experiencing a huge response, both emotionally and in terms of unit-shifting; and then it was exposed that minor factual details were not correct, and Freys response was like d'uh, its a book, a story, I changed the facts to suit the story. (thwack! - sound of trap door closing). "But you called it a memoir!!" I was bewildered by the levels of anger and vitriol on display amongst Oprahs Audience members, this book went from being a very significant spiritual teaching, to a worthless story, instantly. He should of called it a 'Mythological Memoir.' I guess my basic point is that it was precisely these universal mythological aspects of the story which allowed me to connect with it and the character of james, so powerfully in the first place. And that the same is true for the story of jesus, as one among many culture heroes and their narrative framework.
I believe we are all hung up on truth, because of the intensive programming from Mum and Nana that good boys and girls always tell the truth. Their pre-emptive shot across the bows of teenagerhood; hoping that an automatic truth response will prevent full engagement with the debauched initiations of youth which generally signal the end of the until now truthful parent-child communications; rears its ugly head. Furthermore, that because of this overidentification with truth and righteousness and goodness, we are biased against story based, or mythical, truth. Our obsession with factual truth, and our need for superheroes who are better than us; blind us to the goodness of lies, and the need for imaginative and creative truths, along with the factual kind. And rob us of our once finely honed ability to find and share wisdom and joy among tales of our mythologised selves. Our deeply nuanced skills of narrative interpretation have suffered from the technological revolution. Where it was once encumbent on each of us to be able to tell a good and appropriate story, for the entertainment of all - and depending on the level of skill, the edification of the few - the outsourcing of these tasks to the hands of the technical wizards and the political agendas of their corporate overlords has seen us descend to zombie like consumers. Robbing us of our ability to winnow the esoteric meaning from a story about chaff and wheat, so to speak. Getting so hung up on whether Jesus was a real man; that we forget to become Christ ourselves. Which is surely a tragedy.