Myths are so infinitely bound to the culture, time, and place that unless the symbols, the metaphors, are kept alive by constant recreation through the arts, the life just slips away from them. […] There is more reality in an image than in a word.*
Which game would you rather play? I’ll give you a choice of two. One. Every picture tells a story. Two. Every story tells a picture.**
Pictures can hold powerful truths in ways words are no able, though both words and images can be endlessly reconfigured and re-formed in ways of almost infinite recreation. It’s why familiar words or images are the things of art when they are put together in unfamiliar ways.
This is re-creation, so important for understanding belief today.
Joseph Campbell asserted that the speed of change has left us unable to shape our myths for understanding ourselves and for joining with our society and culture. What he shares in our introductory words expresses hope, though; it is not impossible. We find Wallace Stevens saying something similar to Campbell when he writes about disbelief and of hope in the arts:
in an age in which disbelief is so profoundly prevalent or, if not disbelief, indifference to questions of belief, poetry and painting, and the arts in general, are, in their measure, a compensation for what has been lost.^
The arts are really showing each of us how we all have the capacity to recreate
How we need this. Caitlin Moran warns us about what we lose when we become unbelieving:
When cynicism becomes the default language, playfulness and invention become impossible.^^
Disbelief whilst not an end position, can help us towards re-believing when it is forged into helpful inquiry. It can especially help when it comes to what we cannot see:
Modern reality is a reality of recreation, in which our revelations are not the revelations of belief, but the precious portents of our own powers.^
There is a difference between belief that is memory and belief charged with imagination.
(*Joseph Campbell, from Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(**The character Daniel Gluck, from Ali Smith’s Autumn.)
(^From Wallace Stevens’ The Necessary Angel.)
(^^Caitlin Moran, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Caitlin Moran on Fighting the Cowardice of Cynicism.)