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25 Remote Warehouse Mythology- Folklore and Storytelling

When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth

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When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth Cover

ISBN13: 9780691127743
ISBN10: 0691127743
Condition:
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these myths did not begin as fiction.

This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story — for nearly 8,000 years.

We, however, have been literate so long that we've forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time. Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations — although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions.

Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling.

Review:

"I think the Barbers are on to something here. Any student of myths ignores this important work at his or her peril." Michael Shermer, American Scientist

Review:

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths." Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

Review:

"Rarely have I read a book so avidly and with such pleasure. The Barbers have captured the vital signs of the mythmaking process, in a revolutionary study. This is a novel and convincing way to look at mythology." Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times

Review:

"I read this idiosyncratic and engaging work in its entirety in just two sittings, finding it nearly impossible to put down. The Barbers give intriguing explanations of how and why we construct and transmit myths and how we may unpack these 'off-the-wall' stories to reveal essential information about such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions." Joshua T. Katz, Princeton University

Synopsis:

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

"Rarely have I read a book so avidly and with such pleasure. The Barbers have captured the vital signs of the mythmaking process, in a revolutionary study. This is a novel and convincing way to look at mythology."--Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times

"I read this idiosyncratic and engaging work in its entirety in just two sittings, finding it nearly impossible to put down. The Barbers give intriguing explanations of how and why we construct and transmit myths and how we may unpack these 'off-the-wal stories to reveal essential information about such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions."--Joshua T. Katz, Princeton University

"This book offers a comprehensive account of why myths are the way they are. Drawing in part on cognitive science and on historical evidence as to real events, it presents a broad and informative selection of the myths themselves, raising questions and suggesting answers that cognitive scientists will find interesting."--Michael C. Corballis, author of From Hand to Mouth

Synopsis:

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these "myths" did not begin as fiction.

This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story--for nearly 8,000 years.

We, however, have been literate so long that we've forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time. Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations--although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions.

Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling.

About the Author

Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Professor of Linguistics and Archaeology at Occidental College, is the author of The Mummies of Urumchi (W. W. Norton), Women's Work (W. W. Norton), and Prehistoric Textiles (Princeton).

Paul T. Barber, a research associate with the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at the University of California, Los Angeles, is the author of Vampires, Burial, and Death (Yale).

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

N Scrantz, September 1, 2010 (view all comments by N Scrantz)
I loved this book! Especially the explanation of why we came to "believe" that dragons had hoards of gold in their caves.
Excellent writing on the human compulsion to create myths to explain what we are seeing.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691127743
Author:
Elizabeth Wayland Barber and Paul T. Barber
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Barber, Elizabeth Wayland
Author:
Barber, Paul T.
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Folklore & Mythology - Mythology
Subject:
Folklore & Mythology
Subject:
Cognitive science
Subject:
Anthropology
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Archaeology and Ancient History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Mythology-General
Subject:
Mythology-Folklore and Storytelling
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20060931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
18 line illus. 27 halftones.
Pages:
312
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 15 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
Humanities » Mythology » Folklore and Storytelling
Humanities » Mythology » General

When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$30.75 In Stock
Product details 312 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691127743 Reviews:
"Review" by , "I think the Barbers are on to something here. Any student of myths ignores this important work at his or her peril."
"Review" by , "A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."
"Review" by , "Rarely have I read a book so avidly and with such pleasure. The Barbers have captured the vital signs of the mythmaking process, in a revolutionary study. This is a novel and convincing way to look at mythology."
"Review" by , "I read this idiosyncratic and engaging work in its entirety in just two sittings, finding it nearly impossible to put down. The Barbers give intriguing explanations of how and why we construct and transmit myths and how we may unpack these 'off-the-wall' stories to reveal essential information about such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions."
"Synopsis" by ,

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

"A fascinating read. This book points the way to how truths can be found even in myths."--Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Mind's Past

"Rarely have I read a book so avidly and with such pleasure. The Barbers have captured the vital signs of the mythmaking process, in a revolutionary study. This is a novel and convincing way to look at mythology."--Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times

"I read this idiosyncratic and engaging work in its entirety in just two sittings, finding it nearly impossible to put down. The Barbers give intriguing explanations of how and why we construct and transmit myths and how we may unpack these 'off-the-wal stories to reveal essential information about such natural phenomena as volcanic eruptions."--Joshua T. Katz, Princeton University

"This book offers a comprehensive account of why myths are the way they are. Drawing in part on cognitive science and on historical evidence as to real events, it presents a broad and informative selection of the myths themselves, raising questions and suggesting answers that cognitive scientists will find interesting."--Michael C. Corballis, author of From Hand to Mouth

"Synopsis" by ,

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these "myths" did not begin as fiction.

This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story--for nearly 8,000 years.

We, however, have been literate so long that we've forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time. Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations--although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions.

Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling.

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