I have a small quibble with your use of the word "fiction" regarding
myths. Let me start with an excerpt from "The Power of Myth" with
Bill Moyers, a series of filmed sessions with Joseph Campbell. Just
part of what is at http://www.mythsdreamssymbols.com/functionsofmyth.html
Bill Moyers: I came to understand from reading your books - The Masks
of God or The Hero With A Thousand Faces, for example - that what
human beings have in common is revealed in myths. Myths are the
stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for
significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our
story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we
all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death. We
need life to signify, to touch the eternal, to understand the
mysterious, to find out who we are.
Joseph Campbell: People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning
for life. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being
alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will
have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we
actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what it's all finally
about, and that's what these clues help us to find within ourselves.
Bill Moyers: Myths are clues?
Joseph Campbell: Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of
the human life.
Bill Moyers: What we are capable of knowing and experiencing within?
Joseph Campbell: Yes.
Bill Moyers: You changed the definition of a myth from the search for
meaning to the experience of meaning.
Joseph Campbell: Experience of __life__. The mind has to do with
meaning. ... Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this
experience of being alive.
Notice the definition of myths as __stories__. I think it was Alan
Watts that I read that made the point that the stories need not be
fiction. I remember his point was made connecting the Christ story
At any rate, this definition also leaves us open to poems as myths as
in the Duncan quote you sent "Poetry raised a theater, a drama of
For the book "The Power of Myth" see
Probably also available on audio and video tapes.