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Download Other Peoples' Myths: The Cave of Echoes epub

by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty

Explores the myths, stories, and tales that exist and are passed on within cultures, and their role in explaining natural phenomena and creating a common code
Download Other Peoples' Myths: The Cave of Echoes epub
ISBN: 0028960416
ISBN13: 978-0028960418
Category: Religion
Subcategory: Religious Studies
Author: Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty
Language: English
Publisher: Macmillan Pub Co; First Edition edition (December 1, 1988)
Pages: 192 pages
ePUB size: 1269 kb
FB2 size: 1572 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 328
Other Formats: azw lrf mobi doc

In OTHER PEOPLE'S MYTHS, Wendy O'Flaherty says "God created people because he loves stories." O'Flaherty teaches History of Religion at the University of Chicago. She says not everyone will approach her book with the same level of interest. The orthodox religious may find it sacriligious while hard-core secular humanists may find it too "religious." However, she believes some secular humanists may be ready to rethink the premise that rational thought is the only way to gain a handle on reality, and it is to them she dedicates this book.
MYTHS will prove illuminating to those who study the history of religion (non-theologians), fascinating to anthropologists who study other cultures, and provocative to theologians looking for inspiration. O'Flaherty's book is a synthesis of many strands from many disciplines--she likes the metaphor of weaving to describe her work.
O'Flaherty says myths can provide alternative answers to the fundamental questions of life and death. Juxtaposed, these answers can be deciphered like a secret code. She says myths are not lies they are fragments of the truth. Myths are the clothes archetypes wear--or structures if you're a structuralist, or parables if you're God.
O'Flaherty, a Jew, is a specialist in Christian and Hindu mythology. She compares and contrasts the various stories of these two cultures with the earlier Greek myths--which she says weren't myths at all by the time they were discussed by Plato, but mere shadows of their former selves--zombies. Myths are alive, they resonate.
She says Allan Bloom (author of THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND) says we have lost our classics (stories) and to a certain extent she agrees with him. But, she says, the classics to which Bloom refers never belonged to all the people whereas myths do. She tells of the Mahabharata which the most illiterate peasant in India knows. In the U.S., it's equivalent is the Bible. Most Westerners can recite some sections of the Bible.
As far as the classics go, they don't survive unless they are mythologized. To mythologize a story is to tell it over and over. Not all stories can become myths. Myths bear repeating. There are many different kinds of myths, from those involving Western heros to those about characters in children's tales like Cinderella. (I discovered Cinderella is a Chinese tale--hence the small feet as an aspect of female beauty, and those slippers were fur, not glass--the tale was mistranslated!!).
In the information age, the theater plays a large role in the transmission of cultural myths. Movies are big in the U.S. and big in India. O'Flaherty says her favorite mythical tale is "Through the Looking Glass." She mentions other tales--both written and on film that are mythical including "Star Wars", "The Red Shoes", and "The Wizard of Oz." She says in a pluralistic society, many new tales will be mythologized, and new heros will materialize -- The Lion King, Harry Potter, and James Bond??
O'Flaherty wrote her book in the late 1980s before the "English Patient" was released as a book and film. She says Herodotus was the first person to record the existence of a myth as an aspect of a culture. I kept thinking as I read the book and she cited Herodotus over and over, I must watch "The English Patient" again.
ᵀᴴᴱ ᴼᴿᴵᴳᴵᴻᴬᴸ
I am interested in myths because of my personal experience of them; they are rich in personal meaning. Ms Doniger has had similar experiences it seems. I have framed them more with Jungian and post Jungian understandings. Ms Doniger has framed them within her academic field. While she does deal with archetypes without dismissing them, she mainly uses her extensive knowledge and understanding of hindu myths and her trainig in comparitive religion. Thus there are parts that are quite detailed and the arguments a little involved (hence the 4). But on the other hand her approach in using myths to talk about myths is otherwise quite playful and engaging; using riches to uncover riches. The book also reads like a personal testament, parts of which I identified with. At the beginning she describes her own encunter with Hindu myth (which she was studying) at the time of her father's death. She found the myths helped her much more than her own; hence the title of the book. I, a white western protestant christian, have found greek, hindu and other non-christian myths more helpful and more profoundly meaningful than my faith in dealing with my own difficult circumstances. Perhaps this book is Ms Doniger's journey of trying to understanding why someone elses myth could speak so powerfully to an american jew. In the other of her books i have read 'The Implied Speder' her intellectual rigor and training is evident. Thankfully this book is far more fleshy, less rigorous, more suggestive, more approachable. However we try to understand the mechanism, myths (be they classical, popular, ancient, modern, parochial, foreign, offensive or affirming) are alive and well and mis/behaving as ever they did, regardless of our religous labels. Ms Doniger and I are in agreement on that !
Ms. Doniger O'Flaherty writes as if she has escaped the narrow bounds of her Jewish upbringing to understand a more universal world of mythology, and, by this method, enhanced her understanding of Jewish mythology. Sadly, she seems not to have escaped the bounds at all. She writes in circles, telling us that it is neither possible, nor beneficial to create new mythologies and new rituals, though she does not explain why this is so. She fails to grasp that all myths and rituals had origins at some moment in time, and did not come to us with the first spark of human life, sacred and divine. She starts to deal with issue, but skirts it, as she does most issues. In then end, she is trapped by the narrow limits of Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. In the narrowness of her view, including Hinduism seems to imply that she has stretched her mind to encompass the universal. Much that should be scholarship seems to generate from her own hopes, fears, and neurotic world view. I liken her to a psycologist, out to heal herself and treating her illness as a universal. While every writer writes from a perspective that is uniquely their own, Ms. Doniger O'Flaherty's perspective is self-absorbed, and she shows an incredible inability to look at the world through the eyes of others. Worse, she is painfully unaware of this defect. Unless you are one who finds bad scholarship amusing, I suggest looking to another source for an introduction to the field of folklore.