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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

How understanding ancient myth could save your life


In this week’s never less than excellent Guardian review, there is a thought provoking feature on ancient myth by the English writer AS Byatt. The essay, entitled Ragnarök: the doom of the gods can be read here –
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/05/as-byatt-ragnarok-myth

In my view, AS Byatt gets the most fundamental point about myth completely wrong but she does correctly identify the Norse myths as being of central importance in our attempts to understand our most ancient stories. Byatt tells us that she wrote the essay after being invited by Cannongate publishers to write a volume for its ongoing collection of books on human mythology and its origins. The full list of titles and authors can be seen here - http://www.themyths.co.uk/

Very early on, she quotes Nietzsche approvingly (from his The Birth of Tragedy) and this is a good pointer for the way she is going in her argument:
"Every culture that has lost myth has lost, by the same token, its natural healthy creativity. Only an horizon ringed about with myths can unify a culture."

This is a good quote as far as it goes. Imagine an Ireland without its Táin Bó Cúailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) mythology, its ancient wells and fairy rings – these do indeed unify our culture and are inseparable from An Ghaeilge – the Irish language. If we lose these, we lose ourselves and may as well all move to Milton Keynes.

Léigh an t-alt uilig - Read Full Article....

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