Monday, 15 May 2017

Metamythics

How are myths related? Who better to tell us than Poul Anderson, Neil Gaiman and Elliot S. Maggin?

Alternative mythologies can exist in parallel universes, e.g.:

Anderson's Holger Carlsen, trying to find his way back to the Carolingian universe, meets Aztec gods;
an inhabitant of Anderson's goetic universe, where scientifically rationalized magic works, visits Mimir's Well at the roots of Yggdrasil in the Norse mythological universe;
Hell is a full-entropy universe unto itself;
fictional characters who have become myths share a drink and a yarn between universes here.

In Gaiman's The Sandman, all gods begin in one place, the Dreaming, but might then disperse to parallel universes while remaining spiritually linked to their worshippers. When Lucifer closes Hell, other pantheons want it but a Higher Authority intervenes.

Elliot S. Maggin seems to fit all mythologies into a linear narrative, listing Achilles, David, Davy Crockett, John Henry, John Kennedy and Superman. He tells us that Achilles drove back the Trojans "...under a sun that was carried across the sky in Apollo's chariot..." and that David killed Goliath "...in a land where...the Creator of Heaven and Earth spoke through the mouths of men in rags whose eyes burned with the lights of Eternity."
-Elliot S. Maggin, Superman: Miracle Monday (Caveat Corner Books, 2017), Chapter 4, p. 35.

However, Elliot then adds:

"Real or imagined, the heroes lived..." (ibid.)

3 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I admit to being puzzled over how John F. Kennedy could have achieved MYTHOLOGICAL status. Truth to say, I don't think he was a very effective President of the US (to say nothing of holding that office too BRIEFLY to really leave his mark).

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. Sean,
      There is an interesting difference between the man and the myth. (I posted on "A Man And His Rep" recently.) JFK is a myth in some people's minds which is where myths exist. Galway Cathedral has a side chapel with an image of JFK.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      True, myths exist in the MINDS of people, even if some of the persons so mythologized are implausible for that role.

      We both know of how King Arthur, Beowulf, Charlemagne, etc., came to be part of myths. The Aurthurian and Carolingian legends, and the great poems like BEOWULF and THE SONG OF ROLAND being examples. And Poul Anderson gave us a hard fantasy about a hero from an alternate world where the Carolingian mythos was real.

      Sean

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