Myth-Maker, Myth-Maker, make me a myth

Heaven is a myth that gets people to settle for a crap existence.  The future is a myth that puts noses to grindstones until we know nothing at all but work.  Culture itself is a myth that leads to violence (for whoever controls a culture must control its myth about itself, and this inevitably leads to the oppression or at least suppression of challengers to that myth).

It is hard for us, in 2010, to imagine rioting because of an art show or an opera.  Yet surrealism, absurdism and the like posed a serious threat to the reigning myth at that time and its faith in order, harmony and reason (the bedrock, it turned out, of fascism).  After the holocaust, Hiroshima, the killing fields, Viet Nam, and 9/11 we stroll serenely by the most radical art and then have an expensive salad at the museum restaurant.

But if an artist were to turn up in the town square and start shredding cash, he or she would be arrested.  If Bill Gates started shredding cash we would have a myth-meltdown.

Art and artists have been subverted by bankers and corporate robber-barons who pay huge prices for auction-inflated, arbitrarily chosen, art-stars and leave the rest to rot.  The bankers then take the art and hang it on the walls of their bank lobbies, put it in the atriums of their soaring money towers and pretend that they are cultured—that they are just like us, that they are humanists—both compassionate and sophisticated.  But this has ultimately been the castrating of the artist and his or her power to re-make the very myth that has us trapped in a prison of play-money.

When a religion-driven culture would take over another culture they would smash their pillars and their idols (religious totems) in order to establish the supremacy of the new myth.  A lot of arguing about the semantics of God has been an ages-old ruse to cover up the brute agenda of dominance and power as represented by the power to make the myth.  Hitler’s myth was what allowed Germany to coalesce around a fantasy of world domination.  America’s myth (of democracy) has allowed a lot of very undemocratic behaviors and the consolidation of power in the hands of the capitalists with the most coin.

Not only does it make sense for Terrorists to have attacked the World Trade Center as a Towering Myth of Money uniting people in a common belief (i.e. in the unquestionable value of money), it has had the effect of causing a regression, not a progression, in thinking about our money myth.  In other words, after America was kicked in the balls and the nerve-center of its very raison d’etre, we could have responded with compassion to the world and outgrown our calcified myth.  Instead, just like the Papacy choosing a more conservative pope rather than a progressive one because it is an institution in the final stages of its relevance; it was a a regressive choice to go spend a trillion dollars on a war—but this is all our myth knows how to do.  Fear and greed drive our markets, thus without fear and greed our myth evaporates like the maya of the world to the Buddha under his tree.

Money is the biggest reigning myth of all—and if, or when, the zeitgeist realizes (or remakes the myth) and declares that the God of Money is dead (that value has left the building of currency—paper eye-gazing pyramid pictures staring out at us, winking as if to say “trust me”), when the cat comes out of the money-bag, then we have a radical re-ordering of the world.

The “enlightenment” has essentially lead to capitalism, so-called rationalism (meaning massive weapons manufacturing and the wanton use of those ordinates), materialism and over production of goods, whose inevitable consequence has always been, and will always be, war.  We are made to fear chaos—told that terrorists are coming to get us—but I could hardly imagine them doing more harm to the populace than we already do to ourselves with the way we eat, imprison, smoke, mis-medicate, mistreat and exploit each other.

We are made to fear all sorts of collapse, but then the earth shivers in an earthquake and our myths of architecture and supremacy fall down easily enough.  Perhaps the myth of the “dark ages” is just that—a fabrication.  Perhaps people lived well and happy for good stretches of those centuries.  We might say that the “dark ages” brought things like the “black death,” but it is city and civilization that creates great opportunity for infectious disease to turn clusters of humans in close proximity into virus Las Vegas and Cirque du bacteria.

Likewise money.  When a government (essentially the holder of the power to dictate the reigning myth, in our case the myth of money as our One God) starts to lose its grip economically, it faces the dual challanges of inflation (where currency loses value in relationship to goods and services; think wheelbarrows of cash to buy bread in Germany between the wars) and depression (think mass unemployment, decreasing home values, failing banks… oh, could we mean right now?).

To sustain the myth, the myth-protectors (in this case the Federal Reserve working together with bankers—the high priests of our temples of Money) work like mad to keep Toto from pulling back the curtain on the whole towering myth itself—”rescuing” banks because banks simply cannot fail.  Why can’t banks fail?  They represent a failed myth.

It is very interesting to me that psychology, the industrial revolution and film as a mass medium all grew up more or less together.  The ascendancy of Money over Land as the chief marker of value in our emerging world culture meant that mass marketing, mass media, corporations and huge banks all worked together to create the myth that we currently have.  Hollywood, and later Television, created multiple sub-myths (romances, horror films, action and buddy pictures), but all in support of one over-arching myth:  box office (i.e. the coin of the realm of the myth of money as God).

So, what does this have to do with parenting?  Well unless we are able to bring meta-cognition (thinking about thinking) to our existence, we remain trapped in our myth—trapped preparing children to grow up and make money, rather than make value, make meaning, make art (by which we mean new myths).  If suddenly houses were only “worth” living in, cars were soley “worth” driving (or not), time was plainly “worth” living, food was eminently “worth” eating and education was “worth” learning (no more and no less) we might have a world with beauty, taste, art, music… even banking (but to facilitate the flow of goods and services, not to make the flow, the volatility and the volume a stock in trade) to begin living a new myth that coalesced around a new post-mythical thinking.

If we were to realize that none of us do, or should, have the final say on our collective myth—then each religion can enjoy its myth just as kids enjoy fairy tales (and there is certainly truth to be found in both)—only we might transcend the folly of culture, of racing for supremacy under the Darwinian myth of survival of the fittest—”fittest” for what?  And is “survival” the best that humans can do?

I have no wish to float another competing myth, but rather to help us wake up to our very nature as myth-makers—and to encourage us to love and respect each other, and all our myriad myths—in both the service of all our collective children, and in the service of whatever unifying or deconstructing myth the zeitgeist is in the ongoing process of organically cooking up.  With hubris, we try to remake the world; with consciousness, we wake up, live and enjoy the ride.  If we want our kids to be awake, happy, safe and calm… then we ought to strive to be awake, happy, safe and calm.

Namaste, Bruce


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7 Responses to “Myth-Maker, Myth-Maker, make me a myth”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Bold (and elegantly written) words. And a bit brave, in this big bad beautiful blogosphere.

  2. privilegeofparenting Says:

    Thanks for saying so… if a BigLittleWolf says you’re a bit brave then the cowardly lion in me may hope to one day watch Toto pull the curtain back on the Wizard… who I love as much as Dorothy… I just don’t want to buy my myth from him.

  3. Lindsey M Nelson Says:

    Again, you have put words to so many nebulous thoughts that float around in my mind but can never seem to coagulate. Thanks for this hugely insightful and thoughtful post! I will certainly be sharing it.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      I’m hoping that the nebulous in which I also float may be coalescing through our mutual process of trying to wake up to our own deeper, wider and more transcendent collective Self. Thanks for letting me know you’re with me on this.

  4. khim Says:

    I sense some unrest. All of this is over my head and don’t know what to make of it, but I wish for an equitable universe. Love to you and yours.

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      The unrest is mine to be sure, but also all of ours I suspect (hope). This is “over my head” as well… but I believe that it’s our “heads” that often get us into our collective jams… perhaps our hearts know what we really want to say. I sense that when I’m clearer, things will make better sense to you and me both; I’m glad you can be with me in the fog. I’m hoping that a more conscious group would help us do our part toward an equitable relationship with the universe. Right back at you on the Love.

  5. Chicken Soup for our Broken Society « Privilegeofparenting’s Blog Says:

    […] Chicken Soup for our Broken Society By privilegeofparenting An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by David Brooks, “The Broken Society,” caught my attention, primarily because I tend to agree that our society is broken (as for why I think so, see Myth-Maker, Myth-Maker make me a myth). […]

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