One of my all-time passions has been the study of mythology. From the ideas of Joseph Campbell to the attempts of anthropologists to link ancient religion with ancient daily life, I’ve always been fascinated by the manifestations that people put into the study of symbolic metaphor and tying one’s behaviors to the perceptions of one’s surrounding universe. In all of that study, one of the things that has always intrigued me is the concept of unlocking secrets and discovering mysteries buried within ambiguities.
One of the struggles I had with writing one of my most recent novels, The Ameriad, was how to generate mythology in every day concepts that may not have existed, but could so easily mirror the past beliefs of other civilizations. While The Ameriad was developed with a sense of humor involved, it was still fascinating to generate an historical mythology that dealt with gods leading the first Americans to our rocky shores.
So why am I talking about mythology now? Well, it turns out that my latest writing project involves another aspect of mythological thinking that I haven’t had a chance to play around with, and that’s the idea of following up mysteries within ambiguities. In other words, I want to create a sense of mythology within the general world, yet touch on those mysteries with a sense of something bigger than the main characters themselves, something so strong and vivid that it literally takes a life of its own, hinting that it may actually exist outside of the book of fiction itself. To do this, I’m starting to explore the nuances of language, in how people talk to each other and often leave certain things out, while dropping hints of something slightly below the surface. To do this, I’m exploring several organizations that existed on the periphery of fringe communities in the 1990s that were often subjects that people talked around in ways that indicated some people knew a little more than they were revealing. An example is a religious organization that existed in the late 1980s that rose up to international prestige in select groups, yet was often difficult to contact no matter how hard you tried. There was a sense of guarded indifference to outsiders, so those trying to find out more information were often led down blind corridors and only the very devout were ever capable of getting close enough to discover more information.
That is the sort of thing I’m exploring with the topic I’m dealing with. Throughout history, there have always been fringe elements existing on the periphery of our society, and whenever people attempted to make contact, they were often frowned upon, either through strict membership rules or attempts to keep out the prying eyes of government authorities.
I’ll keep you informed. Or maybe I won’t.