• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

Making Your Myth by Steafán Fox

Writing.ie | Magazine | The Big Idea

By Steafán Fox

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My words are lightning bolts. My feelings ocean tides. My line of thoughts a galaxy, drifting through my mind.

Yet, I have a problem: why can’t I write epic stories like The Odyssey or the Norse creation myths? Why can’t I speak the language of dreams? Why is it that my reality seems… mundane? Is this writer’s block? No, I can still write. It’s just my words: they have no fire. It seems like the clog is in my mind. I can see this world and observe it objectively, like I am watching a film, but I do not feel I change with the story, merely analyse it at a comfortable distance.

This is what brings me to you. I think I have found an answer. People love answers. Firstly my diagnosis: my senses categorize my world into objects, and then my mind uses the gathered information to form a world-view. This we call perception. We perceive with our minds inner eye. You see I have been living with a blinded mind.

I will support this madness with science. People love science. Have you heard that matter is an illusion? Thank you Einstein. Yes, matter is energy which moves very slowly. Matter and energy are the same. The reason we perceive matter as different to energy is because our senses have evolved to focus on what important for survival. Our senses tune out the impractical and focus on what is tangible. This is evident in our language capacities.

We label objects with language, so we can easily and quickly categorize our surroundings to make educated decisions. These labels we know as nouns. Nouns are objective, they analyse and separate things into edible chunks, and they are extremely practical. An object is a noun, like a tiger.

These objects are static, like matter, they seem to have no energy alone. Energy is active and has a different form of linguistic tagging. We call action words verbs. Verbs are alive; they imply a state of being, how an object participates in the world. The tiger prowled.

Our senses give us information which our minds turn into nouns. This is pragmatic observation: “the mountain”. But, we are capable of more. This is how we perceive the invisible air is there: we seeing it blowing on leaves. We can perceive in our minds if a noun is in action; we explain this with verbs: “the mountain slept.” We can assume the energy of a noun, what is the nouns emotional state, mood or spirit by perceiving not as our senses tell us, but as our perception reveals. “The mountain dreamt as cities grew in its shadow.”

This is the essence of any sincere metaphor, to describe the active character of a noun.

My mind was blind because I was analysing the world objectively as if it’s a collage of objects. My writing was extremely descriptive of these objects “the young orange and black tiger sat half way up the great big snowy mountain which had hundreds of cities beneath it over the long years.” I considered this talent.

I was wrong. I was wrong because I had misallocated my attention. I considered good writing to be documentation of objects, but an object, like matter, is dead and has no soul. So, I removed the block in my mind. I viewed each object instead as a subject with a soul, each with its own perspective, its own personality and focused my attention on the verbs not the adjectives. The mountains became sleeping giants, the tiger prowling warriors, the moon a watching owl. This is called animism.

This is the key to the art of poetry. This is your inherent gift, and all you have to do is re-discover this capacity to animate the inanimate world. You did it naturally as a child. You would imagine rich stories between toy soldiers, stuffed bears and plastic dolls.

I found this most obvious in folk religions. The world for our ancestors was animated, they lived in poetry. Their myths are stories of mountains as giant dreaming people, the sun as a charioteer of fire and the night sky as a heaven tree of crystal fruit.

I felt I had lost this, I would see a world of nouns with no soul. My mind was blinded from understanding other perspectives. All I had to do was let go of my nouns as sovereign and see how everything has been forever ‘verbally’ interacting with everything else. As Einstein’s theory of relativity says; inertia is an illusion, nothing is still. Everything is always in motion. My myth was to see this interaction in my life-story: my allegory. To make my myth all I had to do was open my mind to it, for it was already there: waiting for me to join the dance.

Every time I awake my mind from misty sleep a cosmos is born from a chaos. Every time I ponder, I am Hamlet. Every time I fight off a cold virus my body becomes Troy defending against the forces of Agamemnon. My dreams are thunder: My illusions stones in the river of my soul.

(c) Steafán Fox

Born in the red deserts of western Australia at the end of the last millennium, brought to Ireland at the age of five and raised in the wilderness of County Meath. Steafán’s interest in words began in his teens upon discovering simultaneously hip hop and the ancient Norse concept ‘wyrd’ meaning destiny. The noticeable harmony and truth found in a good poet’s wyrds like Blake, Yeats or Anis Mojgani has always inspired him, likewise the same concepts found in music. Currently studying music and English and flexing his fledging writer’s wings, he is questioning “will I fall, float or fly?”

We say fly – ed 🙂

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