March 30, 2010

The Competing Myths of America

Readers may be interested to know I've been thinking on a major post, coming soon, about the competing mythologies of America -- known sometimes as as the "socialists" vs. the "Freedom lovers" or "Tea Party", and known sometimes as the "Progressives" vs. the "Neanderthals."

But, more seriously, we have a collision of two powerful mythologies, and this isn't trivial or academic. It's more like tremors in ground that had been still for decades.

Mythologies control not only beliefs, but even perceptions,...information(!)... and facts.

Those especially curious or surprised at the idea that myths control facts may want to rent or check out the Bill Moyers/Joseph Campbell DVDs on the Power of Myth.

I promise to keep this coming post rather more interesting than academic.

Update 6-22:

While I've had my mythic examination finished for weeks now (actually within days of this original post) I realize that in a way, to intellectually describe people's beliefs is a way to avoid engaging them.

After I made the decision not to pursue this path of error, a sophisticated analysis along similar lines, though mostly psychological, appeared in the NYTimes, confirming my feelings.

It's a mistake to simply describe people in terms of some of their fears and motivations, dogmas and self-deceptions.

It would be okay to try to have sympathy for their fears, and try to reassure them.

So, I've taken the tack of respecting the fact that people are prone to error and rumor, and expecting that even such as Glenn Beck may well be sincere in their mistakes, and not truly calculating.

This feels better. In the end, we are all in this together. That Beck tries to divide us is only another mutual problem that we all have, together.

1 comment:

  1. (I hope I didn't just send a partially completed comment.)
    I was trying to send you the names of two interesting books regarding myths and US history.
    Legends, Lies & Cherished Myths of American History by Richard Shenkman and Myth and the American Experience, Nicholas Cords & Patrick Gerster.
    At present, I am using them for similar research as you mention. They are interesting reading.