Monday, October 23, 2006

How American Myths Are Made

Aug. 7, 2006:
The stories we tell to cope with national traumas.

The story of workaday men and women rising to greatness is one of America's most cherished myths. As a term, myth is much misunderstood; hearing it, many people take the word to mean "lie," when in fact a myth is a story, a narrative, that explains individual and national realities—how a person or a country came to be, why certain things happen in the course of a life or of history, and what fate may have in store for us. Myths are a peculiar hybrid of truth and falsehood, resentments and ambitions, dreams and dread. We all have personal myths running through our heads, and some chapters would withstand fact checking while others would fail miserably...