Induction into imagination

Whatever form of education is inflicted on children, they will always find mythical or heroic figures to satisfy their imagination. If they do not have King Arthur and Peredur or Sigurd and Regin, they will content themselves with Donald Duck and Dick Barton. It may even be argued that the latter are healthier because they are more spontaneous and near to contemporary reality than Branwen the daughter of Llyr or Burnt Njal. But are they more real because they are more at home in our impoverished world? I believe the old myths are better not only intrinsically,  but because they lead further and open a door into the mind as well as into the past. This was the old road which carries us back not merely for centuries but for thousands of years; the road by which every people has travelled and from which the beginnings of every literature have come. I mean the road of oral tradition. It may be that the changes of our generation, the increased speed of life and the mechanization of popular culture by the cinema and the radio have closed this road forever. But if so, those of us who remember the world before the wars have witnessed a change in human consciousness far greater than we have realized and what we are remembering is not the Victorian age but a whole series of ages — a river of immemorial time which has suddenly dried up and become lost in the seismic cleft that has opened between the present and the past.

Christopher Dawson, “Memories of a Victorian Childhood”

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