Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Re-told

I read a lot of mythology and folk lore. I read a lot of books based off of mythology. I also like to watch movies and series based off of mythology.

Something that happens quite frequently when I am partaking in the second of these two activities is an indignant exclamation of "That's not how it happens!"

Alas, when others are in the room at said times they will then ask me about "the original", the "true" story, the "golden mean", the "master copy".

Oops.

I am then left explaining to them how folk lore any mythology doesn't actually have an original. All stories in these categories --and I do mean all --have developed over time in many different manifestations. There is no original unless the original is the universal consciousness of mankind. Even the oldest manuscripts we have of the oldest stories are already re-tellings of re-tellings. The story of what it is to be human has been told and will be told into infinity.

This is generally received with blank looks or a roll of the eyes at which point I wonder if I ought to have left out the bits about collective consciousness and infinity and stuck to the facts about the manuscripts.

Regardless, there is no original or "true" version of any myth or folk tale. Each individual version of each individual story is its own truth. Yes, it is rooted in all the versions that have come before it, but it is its own story in its own moment. It is reborn. It is retold.

This leads me back to my indignant exclamation of "That's not how it happens!" No, it isn't. Not in the older version I have already read. But this is a new version. It is going to take on a life of its own.

That isn't to say that one version can't hold a truth that I resonate with more strongly. One story can feel "more right" for me but that doesn't mean that it will be more authentic than the one that comes after.

Perhaps what I ought to exclaim is "I prefer the older version!" or "This retelling uses the same devices to explore a completely different metaphor that I find much less relate-able!"

2 comments:

  1. That's why it's important to know that there is no original story. It's all been told before. Finding a fresh way to go about it makes all the difference. This has been my case and observation, at any rate. :)

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  2. Why I just find it easier to retell it myself. lol.

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