Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Myth of Myth: part 2

More from Walter J. Ong, S.J. A nice, extended metaphor on truth and the sea. The bolding is my own.
For all of this, the value of current discussions of myth is not to be made light of, let alone scornfully dismissed. Our knowledge runs off into the depths. Human intellection is spotty. Islands of conceptualized knowledge are joined by dark seas of knowing which, in one way or another, are still laid up in the senses. These seas have their beauty, too. Their content should not be suspect, nor should interest in them be so. And since they are dark, one can certainly be excused for talking about them a little darkly.

But, once aware of the submarine elements in the human pursuit of truth, let us not deceive ourselves with false hopes. Scrutinized by means of the narrow beam of light thrown from a discursive intellect such as man's, however piercing it be, however fast it move, these seas prove endless. The explorer will indeed always find plenty to do here. We need not begrudge him a lifetime of work. But if he does not take his bearing occasionally by explicit, recognizable landmarks, he is liable to be lost, and his discoveries with him.

There are false hopes which interest in myth, as well as in many other things, may breed. There is not only the myth of industrialism or the myth of imperialism or the myth of democracy. There is the myth of the myth, too.

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