Mischievous Mythology

The central fictional narrative theme is that of equal opportunity for all…

The seeds of fact around which (both playful and revealing) mythologies find themselves clustered are very often difficult to directly perceive. In some cases, such as that of the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece being derived from the historical activity of archaic gold extraction methods involving sheepskins, the fact upon which the fictional narrative grows and eventually comes to obscure (perhaps as though dense foliage overlaying some ancient ruin) remains in archaeological suspension, waiting for a tenacious investigator to uncover. In other cases, the mythology is so mischievously entangled with its originating truth that it is not at all clear where fact ends and fiction begins.

One such mischievous mythology is that of winners and losers in contemporary economic systems, of the notion that anyone can “make it” and be successful, financially secure and socially-respected if only they are prepared to work hard enough for it. This is not a mythology in any classical sense of possessing clearly-defined heroes, antagonists, of expressing ethical parables or of expressing relatively simple archetypes, universal existential truths and symbolic caricatures of human behaviour, psychology and relationships. This is a mythology more in that a rich and historically turbulent cultural system of beliefs, assertions, material and media artefacts supports a complex web of unacknowledged, unsubstantiated and unquestioned assumptions concerning the boundary conditions of plausible economic fact and unverifiable fantasy. These are assumptions, effectively – the axioms for a whole systemic matrix of belief and value-attribution, which (in this specific instance) serve to obscure the truth that this unspoken assertion of equitable opportunity and fair access to success is in fact a falsehood.

There are only a few seats at the table, only so many pieces of this pie to be shared. Where the failure is actually systemic, it is rendered, translated, interpreted and analysed as a problem of individual choice and assumptive responsibility; this effectively (and essentially) masks an underlying inequity and impossibility of fairness. The central fictional narrative theme is that of equal opportunity for all.


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