Personal Mythology vs Memoir

I’ve been listening to the audio version of  The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand. In discussing Oliver Wendell Holmes, the author refers to Holmes’ “personal mythology.” I want one of those. Oh, maybe I already have one in progress, but I’m calling it a “memoir.” I googled.

At Angelfire, it says:

Transitions and transformations are the genesis of the inner life, or the mythic journey. Schopenhauer wrote that as we look back on our life there seems to have been a purpose in everything that has been eventful; there has been a common thread that appears to have tied everything together.

Yeah, yeah, that’s me. Not content to write just a plain old memoir — “here’s what happened” — I am pounding it into a mythic structure, with (of course) me as the hero. That’s just my point, though — being a woman who has insisted on being the hero of her own life.

And I found this:

The story of our lives is our myth. People in the later stages of life seem to become more mythical, to enjoy looking back and spinning yarns about what they experienced. One thing to keep in mind is that myths don’t necessarily pertain to the literal part of our lives but how we experience events internally, our perceptions and emotional reactions. These reactions can be radically different from what one might expect based solely on what actually takes place. [Source]

If I call my “Grand Exits” a personal mythology then it feels like I can both (a) indulge in a lot of deep thinking (one of my favorite hobbies) and (b) sound ironic… recognizing my own puffery.

In the introduction to his autobiography, founder of analytic psychology Carl Jung writes:

Thus it is that I have now undertaken, in my eighty-third year, to tell my personal myth. I can only make direct statements, only “tell stories.” Whether or not the stories are “true” is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is my fable, my truth.

My fable, my truth — yeah.

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One Response to Personal Mythology vs Memoir

  1. Pat says:

    Oh,OH, OH!!! VERY GOOD STUFF!! YEAH–YOUR FABLE, YOUR TRUTH! And you sure are doin’ it too!!

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