Monday, June 21, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: The Monomyth

There is a theory that all the great stories of human literature are the same, sharing a humble origin, a journey, a heroic relationship to the world and/or the divine, conflict and resolution of cultural resonance. This is called the "monomyth" because, since the first physicians and philosophers, it has been believed that the muses suffer from intransient cases of mononucleosis. This causes acute fatigue and pain, the sorts of things that make it difficult to inspire truly novel art. The muses try their best, giving twists like Quetzalcoatl banging a nun and hobbits carrying the one ring to rule them all, but they're sick people and can only be asked so much. It is believed that the muses so often inspire immortality or long life into stories out of psychological fears that they'll never live long enough to recuperate and do totally fresh work. There was a time when they hoped humans would pick up the slack for them, but if you chain a million authors to a million typewriters all you get is social satire and poetry that doesn't rhyme. That's why they invented the million monkeys/typewriter scenario, though the monkeys have yet to reach the end of their monomyth.


  1. This did not go as expected. I thought it was going to be some thoughtful essay and, well, it was thoughtful all right. Very fun, and maybe a little too true for comfort.

  2. John, I think you're misunderstanding, probably due to a typo. It's not monomyth, it's moonmyth. Hence the "hero with a thousand phases".


  3. I have an image of the apes screaming at the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey in my head right now. :)

  4. Haha! Very amusing take on the poor sick muses. I hope mine is different, or at least she's well enough to lead me to a different view of the old battered myths, heh. ;)

  5. Here I was expecting a well thought out, non fiction essay on the craft...and *this* is what I get. :p

    Hilarious! Loved it.

  6. Valerie, Gany, it actually began as a thoughtful essay, then quickly swerved into some trash cans. Glad it achieved funny velocity en route.

    Gracie, I will take the positive Arthur Clarke comparison where I can get them.

    Tony, you're right. What a horrible typo. I'll get right on that moonmyth entry, where muses aren't inspiring new material because it takes too long to ship it here from space.

  7. "...the muses suffer from intransient cases of mononucleosis."

    That alone was worth the stop.

    my capcha is "prooff" silly, but I liked it here.

  8. uy4roy cb;eybr48yc93hjoydfy tert vrye9yr

    monkey typing got me joy

    Not too shabby.


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