Fairy Tales?: The Case of Mythic Hyperreality

Mythic hyperreality: more real than true and beyond metaphorical truth. Fiction as higher reality in traditional expression 


Fiction is a powerful genre that expands the limits of the imagination. Fiction intentionally creates false narratives and a new reality. Many dismiss fiction as made-up or a lie, denigrating the art of storytelling. The advocacy of accurate historicity is a recent phenomenon. Embellishment marked its territory as the method of storytelling for generations. History promoted agendas and ideologies; it was not a flat-out lie but was not so genuine either. Details were distorted and ideologically motivated. Embellishment does trek on the periphery of accuracy but does account for historical events. 


Storied Value

Throughout my writing, I have emphasised the importance of value. The power of merit stems from experience and exposure. Fiction as a story provides us meritorious lessons even though the events are untrue. Yet, what supplies value is the realistic notions of the narrative. The characters are fake, but their experiences are real. We relate to these individuals because we can see ourselves in them, even in the science fiction realm. In dystopian realities, we project our ethos onto these foreign themes. There is a universal human experience enabling our comprehension of fake characters with make-believe technology. Their feelings and actions are understood and are relatable in their unanimity. 

Lessons are conceived uniformly. The exact method or setting may differ, but at its core, there is a fundamental similarity. Gaiman mentions the story of Little Red Riding Hood. He argues the takeaway is those who do not mean well; there are people to avoid. It may not be axiomatic or taught, so the story teaches this lesson. The author is imparting wisdom in the form of a narrative. He uses the storyline to internalise critical life lessons. The lie that the little red riding hood does not exist is irrelevant to a child. To the reader, the character comes to life, and her experience is our own. Especially for children, this story is even more real to them. Gaiman states that fairy tales are not true but more than true because they teach not about dragons existing but that they can be defeated. It is not about the realistic portrayal but what can be absorbed and empowered. 

Fiction responds to reality. An author represents the current reality with a false portrayal. The author is limited in his/her knowledge but unlimited in imagination and creativity; the story refracts reality. Many authors wrote about real events: Hemingway wrote about WWII and Dostoevsky about Russia. The science fiction and fantasy realm may be reflected more extremely. The imagination of Tolkien and Orwell is tremendous and depicts an ability to use the issues in the world and cultivate a new one. Characters and themes represent the author’s intentional style. Yet, the realism of the plot does not affect the ability to empathise with the story. 


Jewish Inclination

The Biblical record jives more with legal narratives. They have a combined “fictionalised” appropriation of the real world; it is a personal experience with legal enforcement. The personal experience conflicts with history. It demonstrates the unique perspective overriding the general outlook. A textbook summarises the past ignoring the details; the private realities are lost in the historical account. Legal narratives then provide an individual’s experience of their run-in with the law. It is a minority or public tactic to convey issues about the larger framework. They are, generally, grievances about the legal system. Subjective representations but factional expressions of struggle. The information recorded to the masses is the main aspect of the narrative. It cares less for historical education and more for valued education. Stories do not need to be realistic portrayals. They can include mystical or mythical characters and regions. 

The character’s experiences are rhetorical, convincing in their narration. We feel compelled by their persuasive tactics. The private intimacy is compelling in empathising with this individual. They are no longer stronger but relatable fellows. Vulnerability is a method of connection and trustworthiness. Assigning real emotions to fictional characters prompts attentive comprehension. Another’s story is absorbed as self-possibility. We understand the struggle even if we have never priorly endeavoured. Relatability is critical for maintaining interest. The openness of the character captures the reader’s interest. We trust the character that confesses to the reader genuinely. 

The stylistic methodology to capture interest involves the mood and presentation. The terminology conveyed elicits an emotional appeal from the reader. The reader is embroiled in the story’s language. How the narrative is written affects the influence it pulls. The tone of the narrative is effective in absorbing the reader into the story. There is an impression to mark the reader’s attention and engulfment in the story. The expression is to harness certain jazz to engage the audience’s passion. The reader may misunderstand the intent but still cling emotionally. The feelings exploited can be captured even if the audience is not fully aware of the predicament. The reader need not have absolute knowledge but rather conceive of the emotional toll. 

Contemporary Ideology

The general association of the biblical narrative is with historical accuracy. Today in our more preservationist fundamentalist readings, we have literally translated it all. Even when individuals claim the Bible is not a history book, they refuse to concede which aspects are ahistorical. Earlier leaders have attributed metaphorical interpretations to the text and recently expanded it to other areas and modern Jewish academia has extensively argued for more figurative illustrations than literalist history. Still, many believers find it difficult to denounce the accuracy of the biblical stories, ignoring philological opposition. It must be true, God said so. 

Did God create the world in seven days? Did Adam and Eve exist? Did the flood occur? Most orthodox individuals would answer in the affirmative. A commentator noted that figurative explanations were not the orthodox consensus. Whether this is accurate or not, which I do believe is more in America than Israel, is irrelevant. It becomes true for me but not for thee. Yet, no one would make this argument about gravity or 9/11. The mystical and mythic layers of these stories attest more figuratively than accurate history. Defenders have yet to accept, but it is becoming increasingly untenable. It is a minority opinion to opt for figurative explanations, but it seems the most plausible. What about the forefathers or Exodus? There does not seem to be an issue in their acceptance. There is evidence on both sides. Still, it should be noted that there is most probably a degree of embellishment in the narrative. Were they slaves? Sure, but did everything happen exactly has been recorded? Potentially not. Understanding ancient history is important for this compilation. The degree of absolution is unnecessary. 

How much of the narrative is embellished? All of it. That may sound extreme but remember embellishment was the method writing until recently. To apply our modern historical philosophy on ancient writing is untenable and insufficient. Even the way the Bible is written reflects its ancient modelling.  Conceptually, most of the narratives may convey historical events. This is where people get so hung up on. Their fundamentalist side rears its head. The stories need to be precise! But do they? I do not think so. There seems to be some requirement to be absolute in representing our heritage to the world. We need a sign of approval. Why is this so? Why do we do this to ourselves? We are only deluding ourselves and complicating our history more. 


Potential Recourse

Once we are willing to forgo the factuality of our heritage, what is left? It is an issue with modern sensibilities. We have been taught that only real history matters, but this is untrue. Our heritage is not critical because it speaks the truth but because it professes lessons. Judaism does believe in truth. Yet, understands that truth in its literal conception today differs from the method of old. Sociological analysis is cyclical for proper comprehension. The stories compared to any fiction novel have more merit in their literature than their factuality. It is quite irrelevant if one led to another. We care more for what came to be. What can we learn from our predecessors? There is no issue in accepting the forefathers and Exodus as genuine, but in my opinion, it does not matter that much. I’m happy to trust in their authenticity until proven otherwise. Even when achieved, the text will still have merit. It is not the literalism but the figurative explanations that invoke the major prowess. 

The text, except for a few places, avoids consensus and genealogies. The point of the text is not to tell history but to educate storylines. Similar to a fiction novel, getting into the heads of the characters and watching their journeys has immense power in shaping our lives. We learn from them. Their actions and exploits mean something more than any textbook can provide. It is because the narrative is so ancient that we feel even more connected. We read the text and ponder its efficacy to better undergird those values. It is not simply that it is beneficial but that it is a vital mode of thinking and development. The characters filled with diverse emotions and methodologies traverse the map in their respective voyages. Meeting obstacle after obstacle to overcome and continue forward. Each character has a different challenge that confronts them. Each individual is fallible and imperfect but filled with resilience and passion. We connect to these ancient figures because though their circumstances are different, their journey is comparable. They express the same emotions and mannerisms in their personal growth. 

Campbell argued that myths were legends inherent to culture. Their oral nature was prevalent in the pre-written era. The common characteristics teach truths about humanity. Despite varied locations and influences, myths corresponded with one another. Campbell advocated a spiritual marriage that has decomposed in today’s day. For Campbell, marriage is about sacrifice for a partnership. An old form, conveying a powerful lesson. Though the Bible speaks of man and wife as procreators, there are hints to something more for the couple. Just verses after the command of procreation, the Bible notes that a man will leave his home and cling to his wife. Adam “knows” his wife, and she gives birth. There is a purpose in procreation, but there are remnants of an intimate connection. This idea is broadened in the rabbinic sphere, but there are sparks of its appearance in the biblical narrative. Marriage is a sacred bond but not just on a metaphysical level, also practically it salvages the existential loneliness, uniting for comfort and growth. The Bible portrays multiple couplings. Some are better than others. Sarah is unafraid to voice her grievance against Abraham and orders Hagar and Ishmael out twice. It has impending ramifications for the culture. For all the patriarchal-centricity, the Bible does demonstrate female power and her firm stance. Women, though excluded from the public sphere, are greatly respected in Jewish culture. Mythos provide an anthropological setting analysing the methods of old and their emergence. 

Upending literalist translation does dissipate our tradition in any way. We should not obey the Torah because the Israelites must have been in Egypt for 400 years or that King Solomon built the Temple. If anything, Maimonides only compiled thirteen principles to uphold, which is its own discussion. Judaism does require dogmatic literalism but faith in the system. The perpetuation is in the historical memory. It is the text that bolsters the merit whether or not archeology can prove otherwise. The stories cultivate a network that links Jews to their ancestry. Clinging to Jewish tradition is a familial connection to the past. The stories submit immense worth and meaning to the Jewish soul. Jews have learned and taught these narratives for generations enhancing their faith and their dedication to the cause. Judaism is a family.with a rich memory and undeniable expression. Jewish rituals are an expression of that past. The underpinning values implemented externally manifest that unique familial link.

Jewish history is about perpetuated development. The tradition is a plethora of values to internalise in one’s journey. It is a guidebook to navigate life. Narratives supply a visual aid to ease navigation. Following the compelling characters through trials whether grieving in their failure or celebrating in their victories. It is a book with much to absorb and grow from. The linkage to Jewish ancestors bolsters the bond. These narratives educate values integral to his past. The education of his parents is built upon these foundational myths. These merits underpin the trans-generational transmission of the concepts. It cultivates a culture that adheres to ancient values. The narratives speak to the anthropological methodology of a religious framework binding the tribe. The fictional aspect of the narrative, the embellishment, enlarges its valued asset. Its teleology is to develop further with these perpetuated values derived from mythic stories. 



 Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth. New York: Anchor, 1991, pg. 64.

Benjamin L. Apt, “Aggadah, Legal Narrative, and the Law.” Oregon Law Review 73:4, pp. 952, 957. 


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About the Author
Jonathan Seidel is currently studying government at IDC with a focus on counterterrorism. He is on the debate team and model UN, participating in conferences and expanding knowledge on a wide range of important issues is important to him. Jonathan has a long history working with special needs kids and running programs to ensure those kids have amazing experiences. Jonathan's favorite topic to write about is Jewish philosophy and he hopes to create a space for Jewish students to cultivate similar discourse online.
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