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Alexandre Cabanel: The Birth of Venus (1863)
"It's not that the facts don't matter, but that stories overshadow."

We mistakenly believe that the ancient Greeks and Romans maintained the mythiest societies in history, but ours might far surpass theirs. No, we no longer believe in cloud-based gods, but the underpinnings of much of what passes for knowledge, even science, amounts to metaphors and analogies every bit as allegorical as any embraced by the ancients. Physicists searching for quantum gravity follow paths paved with stories, for little of what they seek can be observed with any of our senses, even those enhanced by machines. They twiddle concepts and conclude by means of logic and reason, their allegories growing simpler as they sense they're nearing their goal. Even science has become a faith-based initiative, easily discounted by those holding different MythConceptions and subscribing to orthogonal myth information. It's not that we don't share a serviceable language, but that we don't always share the same metaphors, the underlying stories which stand in as explanations of phenomena. No, atoms do not really resemble marbles, but they can be usefully thought of that way. The danger comes when we mistake our allegories for immutable realities rather than clever analogies, confirmation of what's proper to believe. Atoms couldn't care less what anyone believes about them.

I acknowledge that a significant portion of my admittedly meager understanding stands upon mythical shoulders.
I add to the confusion by mythifying much surrounding me. My vehicles both have names and personalities fueled by ever-expanding legends. This house, too, possesses a persona, or I imagine that it does. I sometimes speak to it and sometimes seek its counsel. Most of the trees here also seem like people to me. The pets seem sentient enough to pass for humans in furry costumes. This small city, too, sometimes speaks to me and I respond. I inhabit a world every bit as mythical as the one Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter Rabbit inhabited. It would seem inhuman not to.

Most of my MythConceptions seems like so much harmless fun. I try to stick a little closer to the program when it comes to information that might matter. I usually quit any op/ed piece trying to pull my chain. In matters of belief and faith, I appreciate that facts stand beside their point. Questions like how many angels might dance on the head of a pin seem uninteresting to me. Questions about patriotism bore me, too, for they prove both fundamentally undecidable and unimproved through argument. I see that a publisher has released a new edition of the Bible which includes our Constitution as part of the text. The editor explained that since both were divinely inspired, combining them into a single edition produces no contradiction. The Bible, too, seems allegorical, perhaps lacking even a shred of truth but making up for that shortcoming with a surfeit of potentially useful wisdom. Pity anyone taking allegory literally for they doom themselves with MythConceptions, be they biblical or constitutional.

I have no idea how most machines work. I feel no compelling desire to take anything apart to discover how it works. I've taken things apart before and found more myth than parts inside, but myths which contradicted the ones that had worked for me before. It was inconvenient to construct new stories excluding how elves and fairies created the vacuum that cleaned the carpet. My attitude renders me something other than self-reliant, almost a sin within our society's deep mythology. Not a single one of us was ever self-reliant. That was just a story we apparently imprinted upon to downplay our innate dependencies.

How fragile my world sometimes seems. It teeters like so many angels performing Tai Chi on the head of a pin. It genuinely seems to have no end. I know it's finite. It's not that the facts don't matter, but that stories overshadow. MythConceptions seem to trump whatever really might be if only because we have no language to describe how anything really is.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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