In Which I Think Myself Into A Bottomless Well

Every time I get paid, I go on a mini-spree at the bookstore– and if I can’t find anything in person at the bookstore, I go on a delayed mini-spree at Amazon, which is infinitely more dangerous. Luckily, this month I found enough to gnaw on at an actual bookstore. Lately, I prefer Barnes and Noble, since Borders is getting kind of depressing.

On the other hand, Borders does have that Paperchase stationery section, which always manages to cheer me up. I adore stationery– all forms of it! I love the frou-frou stuff with anime characters on it, like Sanrio, Moleskine notebooks, big spiral bound notebooks with colorful plastic covers– all of it. But I also love the basic stuff from Office Depot. The smell of paper gets me excited, like I’m about to really DO something. Toss in a fresh pack of pens or mechanical pencils, and oh my God, I’ll explode with happiness. Now I’m off track!

What I meant to write about was this book I got, Parallel Myths.

By J. F. Bierlein

It turns out it’s also online, but I like being able to carry a book into the tub, or up to bed. Here it is. I’m actually reading the introduction– usually I skip them, because I want to read the book for myself and not have it regurgitated for me right before I read it– and I’m enjoying it. So far, it’s mostly a review of things I already knew, but with more detail. It is familiar, but satisfying. I’m sure that as I read more, Ill get into more unfamiliar territory. I admit, I know next to nothing about Eastern, Aztec and African myth, so I’m looking forward to those chapters.

What drew me to this book was the proclamation of a Universal truth, some kind of unification through myth. It’s an idea that’s been rattling around in my own brain for quite a while, probably as a direct result of a lot of Jung at an early age! I find it fascinating to imagine the kernel of truth at the heart of stories– as far away and diluted or transformed as that truth might be by the time it reaches us as a retold myth. Like that Grapevine game, but over a REALLY long period of time. Who knows how hairy we were when we first started generating these tales?

In historical and socio-  linguistics, you can see which tribes bumped up against other tribes, who conquered whom, all by how language changed, how vocabulary developed and was used. So it is equally interesting to think of how that language was used in storytelling, and how that would tell us about our pre-written histories and ourselves, ultimately, too. Which little pieces of story survived from earlier versions, and which pieces of story were added on at a later date? And then why was that piece added? What do archetypes say about us– and not necessarily us as separate cultures, but as a larger, Human culture?

So that is why I’m so fascinated with myth lately. Also, they’re extremely rereadable, because you can never quite get to the bottom of them. They’re bottomless pits! Reading one is like staring into a dark well, trying to figure out what that is, swimming and splashing in the darkness. Is it what you think it is, or is it something else? Well, there you go, myth is the Ultimate Mystery, and I love mysteries. That explains that! You can’t reread an Agatha Christie or something of that nature right away, because it’s been solved. It’s over by the end of the book. A myth is never over.


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