Monday, August 20, 2007

File 1.88 a myth is a myth is a myth

[...] Blumenberg reminds us that the mature mythology that we know from Homer, Hesiod, the Ramayana, from our informants in "primitive" cultures, and so on, must be imagined as the product of thousands of years of oral storytelling, in the course of which vastly greater quantities of stories, figures, and variations on earlier stories and figures were tested on audiences upon whose active approval the storyteller's success, perhaps even his livelihood, depended - and that as a result of such "testing" most of these were discarded as not having the impact that the surviving material has. In other words, the stock of myth that has come down to us in the product, not of a reverent process of handing down (such as comes into play with written texts...), but rather of an unsparing process of "natural selection", which Blumenberg in fact entitles the "Darwinism of words."
R.M. Wallace, "Translator's Introduction" in H Blumenberg, Work on Myth, MIT Press, 1985, p. xx


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