I wish to take exception with Gopika's assertition "In order to create a
new myth the old ones have to be dispelled first." Perhaps if you equate
a myth with a religion, but as I see a myth it is a story that helps
people find their position in the the order of things such as religion
or culture. (And as Alan Watts used it in the "Myth and Ritual in
Christianity" book I mentioned awhile ago, a myth need not be a fictious
story.) While in ancient times it may not have been possible to have
myths from different cultures exisiting together (unchanged anyway) that
certainly should not be the case now. Frazer collected similar myths
together and Joseph Campbell has shown how these myths represent common
human ideals. Even the titles of some of Campbell's books indicate how
the basis of the myth is common: "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and
"The Masks of God" (compare with "He Do the Police in Different Voices."
Each myth could be seen as a different way to see the same human
condition. I don't see any problem having a number of myths because
each is a different way of illustrating something. I do like the quote
that Gopika passed on to us "Myth embodies the nearest approach to
absolute truth that can be stated in words" because that shows an
I also disagree with Rick Seddon's suggestion that Eliot was trying to
create a new myth for Tiresias but I don't really have a better
substitute for what the myth might be other than my own suggestion that
perhaps Eliot was trying to show our position in society as a myth might
but instead of using gods or heroes he used mere mortals like outselves
For a slight turn in the topic, one that I hope will interest a few out
there, a number of years ago PBS had a series of TV shows where Bill
Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell and from that they created a book.
Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, "The Power of Myth"
In Chapter 7, "Tales of Love and Marriage," a number of figures familiar
to the readers of TWL are brought up. Tritan and Isolde, Francesca and
Paolo, The Fisher King, Percival, Galahad and Tiresias. Also the troubodors,
Dante, Wagner and even Eliot himself. A Campbell quote from page 196:
The theme of the Grail romance is that the land, the country, the whole
territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland.
And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everyone is
living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you're
told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland. And
that is what T.S. Eliot meant in his poem The Waste Land.
In a wasteland the surface does not represent the actuality of what it
is supposed to be representing, and people are living inauthentic lives.
"I've never done a thing I wanted to in all my life. I've done as I was
told." You know?