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Der gelebte Mythus aber ist die epische Idee meines Romans, und ich sehe wohl, daß, seit ich als Erzähler den Schritt vom Bürgerlich-Individuellen zum Mythisch-Typischen getan haben mein heimliches Verhältnis zur analytischen Sphäre sozusagen in sein akutes Stadium getreten ist. Das mythische Interesse ist der Psychoanalyse genau so eingeboren, wie allem Dichtertum das psychologische Interesse eingeboren ist. . .
Im Leben der Menschheit stellt das Mythische zwar eine frühe und primitive Stufe dar, im Lebendes einzelnen aber eine spate undreife. Was damit gewonnen wird, ist der Blick für die höhere Wahrheit, die sich im Wirklichen darstellt, das lächelnde Wissen vom Ewigen, Immerseienden, Gültige, vom Schema, in dem und nach den das vermeintliche ganz Individuelle lebt, nicht ahnend in dem naiven Dünkel seiner Erst- und Einmaligkeit, wie sehr sein Leben Formel und Wiederholung, ein Wandeln in tief ausgetretenen Spuren ist.
But the epic concept of my novel is myth experienced as life and I well understand that from the time I took the step as a writer from the bourgeois-individual to the mythic-typical, my personal relationship to the analytical sphere stepped into an acute stage, in a manner of speaking. The interest in the mythical is as inherently a part of the psychoanalytical as an interest in the psychological is inherently of interest to a writer. . .
The myth is the foundation of life; it is the timeless schema, the pious formula into which life flows when it reproduces its traits out of the unconscious. Certainly when a writer has acquired the habit of regarding life as mythical and typical there comes a curious heightening of his artistic temper, a new refreshment to his perceiving and shaping powers, which otherwise occurs much later in life; for while in the life of the human race the mythical is an early and primitive stage, in the life of the individual it is a late and mature one.
–Thomas Mann, Freud und die Zukunft (1937) in Leiden und Größe der Meister, pp. 920-21 (Frankfurter Ausg. 1982)
More from Scott Horton:
No Comment — November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm
An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath
No Comment — August 12, 2013, 7:55 am
How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?
No Comment — July 29, 2013, 11:36 am
Is it possible to simply disband the partisan FISA court?
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Average portion of its yearly household expenditures that a South African family will spend on a funeral:
Neuroscientists were hoping to use rat brain waves to find people buried by earthquakes.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature