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CLA204H1 Lecture Notes - Mother Goddess, Trobriand Islands, Protoscience

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Claesson Welsh

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Sep 15 2010
Theories of Mythology
-Surrealist sculpture: Retrospective Bust of a Woman absolutely useless and created wholly for
the purpose of materializing in a fetishistic way, with maximum tanible reality, ideas and
fantasies of a delirious character. Dali, 1931
-Rationalist vs metaphorical interpretations
-Rationalist tries to connect myths w/ specific events for precise and logical origins of myth;
contrasted to Eliades sacred timelessness
oEuhemerus (300BC): The Sacred Record
Gods originally human kings on island, deified b/c of good deeds
oJustifies myth by rooting it in history
- Metaphorical interpretations: myths dont come out of human experiences but out of universal
truths, natural phenomena, collective/shared exp.
- (Friedrich) Max Muller
oStudent of Sanskrit
o1840s to 1860s in Britain, studied Indian texts and culture; also the Indo-europeans
(Aryas): Shiny Happy People
oFound uncomfortable similarities b/w mythology of savage races and the early Europeans
(ie Greeks); in terms of beliefs; that the Greeks perfection could be so similar to savagery
oParadox of: that the advanced Greeks had silly beliefs and mythology
oTried to explain this by rationalizing Greek mythology
Unscientific approach, w/ single goal of exonerating the Greeks
oLinguistic observation of Zeus > Dyeus = Father Sky
oHe believed the indo-europeans were in a golden time, honourable, free of crises; that they
were original poets
Had a limited number of words to express ideas, therefore became poets to express
Ie the sun is setting would allegedly = the burning one sits down on his golden
- Mullers Solar Mythology: so how does mythology develop?
-According to his theory, words and meanings change over time
obut soft, what light through yonder window breaks? = someone named Light broke a
window at Yonders house
not everything is not about the sun
Mullers shiny happy poets are self-contradictory; they cant make up a new
oOriginal linguistic core is not wrong; Zeus, Dyeus, do connect back to older ideas about gods
oHave to understand metaphorical approach; myth doesnt have to explain the god, but also
to explain the things around us
- Myth and psychology: Sigmund Freud
oFreud first seriously explored the unconscious life of mind and created the earliest
articulation of its importance to consciousness
oDidnt pay much attention to mythology, most was done by followers later
oMyth based on personal, not external society
oDreams: everyday reality transforms into symbols that occur in our dreams
Several things get fused together into one item or event
Something in dream stands for something very different in the real world
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