The Myths I Live By

Hey, you should see my mailbox! I’m overwhelmed with letters saying the world would be a better place if only I would write more about beach parties, Gidget and Moondoggie.

I, too, am craving more sights of that cute brown-eyed blonde in her itchy bitchy teenie weeny yellow polka dot bikini and all those buff actor studs who knew how to surf before there were wet suits.

But, before we open the gates to Jollity Farm, I have a few words to say about ‘Myth’ with a capital M. As an beatnik hippie English major at San Francisco State, I read a lot about it. A Myth is neither a computer game nor just a story that isn’t true, as many people think. Not to put too fine a point to it, myths are stories we need to believe in order to arrange our lives into a meaningful pattern.

So that our lives will make sense to ourselves.

I write about my personal myth from time to time, as I have fashioned it over the years. Seeking for meaning in my early years, hanging out with Gidget and Moondoggie, struggling to raise a family in the middle years as a world-famous lecturer on ginseng root, now a rootless wanderer wintering in Antwerp, and, of course, I’m a pig. My Patrushka, as you know, also looms large. The possibility of true love forever is a major strand of my myth.

Another myth I have glommed onto is the one about my homeland, America. Land of the Brave and Home of the Free. I speak without irony. America, crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. America, the apple of the world’s eye where reign Liberty and Justice for all.
In my mythic America there could never be a story myth about about how Roosevelt or some other president authorized torture camps to extract information from enemy prisoners. Americans would never do that. That’s what the Nazis and the Japs did (forgive me, my Japanese readers, I’m using the words of my childhood myth-making time). In fact, it would be the most unAmerican thing I could think of.

All you Native Americans please shut up about our nineteenth century policies of genocide. All you Afro-American readers please be quiet about one hundred years of segregation by government policy. And I would prefer it if you wouldn’t mention the thousands of loyal Japanese-Americans who sat out WWII in concentration camps.

They don’t fit my myth, which I sometimes have to hold on to for dear life. If I begin to believe that the American government, by policy, has authorized torture as a method to gain information from terrorists, I have two choices. One, I can let my myth crumble and rebuild it with another myth about an America where all that stuff about Honor and Justice is bullshit. A lot of people do that.

Or I can start screaming LET’S FIND OUT! IS IT REALLY TRUE? IF IT IS, THEN BRING THOSE BASTARDS DOWN! Light the freedom torch again! Bring out the evidence. Let’s start the hearings. Because I need my Myth of America. And I’ll fight for it.

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2 thoughts on “The Myths I Live By

  1. Oh dear, Myth America…that made me giggle!I don’t think I want to enter into this discussion. I find whenever I say anything about America to Americans, I somehow manage to cause offense. I am interested to see what kind of discussion this genders between those of you who ARE Americans. Do you mind if I take the chicken’s way out and keep my opinion to myself and just watch what y’all are going to say?

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  2. Funny, coming from ouside US I never though of America as the¨”home of the brave, land of the free”. That’s an American Myth made by Americans and for Americans I guess. For me the myth was “America the land of opportunities”. And it still is. But I get your point. Greetings from Costa Rica, where it rains and rains and rains…

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