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Neil Gaiman

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I wish I had an origin story for you. When I was four, I was bitten by a radioactive myth.
--
On how his interest in mythology started, in an interview with Bookslut (October 2006)

 
Neil Gaiman

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A second conspicuous landmark... is the enunciation of the fundamental law of radioactive disintegration by Rutherford and Soddy in 1903. This law was in no sense a consequence or development of Plank's theories; indeed fourteen years were to elapse before any connection was noticed between the two. The new law asserted that the atoms of radioactive substances broke up spontaneously, and not because of any particular conditions or special happenings. This seemed to involve an even more startling break with classical theory than the new laws of Plank; radioactive break-up appeared to be an effect without a cause, and suggested that the ultimate laws of nature were not even causal.

 
James Jeans
 

A myth is, of course, not a fairy story. It is the presentation of facts belonging to one category in the idioms appropriate to another. To explode a myth is accordingly not to deny the facts but to re-allocate them.

 
Gilbert Ryle
 

A theoretical investigation which Einstein published in 1917 provides a third conspicuous landmark. It connected up he two great landmarks already mentioned by showing that the disintegration of radioactive substances is governed by the same laws as the jumps of the kangaroo electrons in the theory of Bohr. In fact radioactive atoms were now seen merely to contain a special breed of kangaroos, much more energetic and ferocious than any that had hitherto been encountered.

 
James Jeans
 

Eliade's interest is neither in the concept of profane experience nor in the derived concept of the sacred, but rather in the way these two are actually experienced. It is the phenomenological method that claims to describe these experiences of the sacred and the profane... When Eliade defines myth as a "true story" he is giving us a phenomenological description. For the people for whom the myth is a true story, it is not a figment of the imagination or merely a subjective belief but the perceived reality in which they live out their lives. What constitute's one's life, is the world fraught with meaning and value. It is the living perception of people. That and that alone is what is meant by phenomena.

 
Mircea Eliade
 

For the past fifty years at least, Western scholars have approached the study of myth from a viewpoint markedly different from, let us say, that of the nineteenth century. Unlike their predecessors, who treated myth in the usual meaning of the word, that is, as "fable," "invention," "fiction," they have accepted it as it was understood in archaic societies, where, on the contrary, "myth" means a "true story" and, beyond that, a story that is a most precious possession because it is sacred, exemplary, significant. This new semantic value given the term "myth" makes its use in contemporary parlance somewhat equivocal. Today, that is, the word is employed both in the sense of "fiction" or "illusion" and in that familiar especially to ethnologists, sociologists, and historians of religions, the sense of "sacred tradition, primordial revelation, exemplary model." ... the Greeks steadily continued to empty mythos of all religious and metaphysical value. Contrasted both with logos and, later, with historia, mythos came in the end to denote "what cannot really exist." On its side, Judaeo-Christianity put the stamp of "falsehood" and "illusion" on whatever was not justified or validated by the two Testaments.

 
Mircea Eliade
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