I'll be away from home and the office for the next few days, but before I go I want to recommend Katherine Langrish's excellent post on "The Value of Fantasy and Mythical Thinking," over on the Awfully Big Adventure blog.
"The ‘mystery of existence’ is an artefact," she writes. "We choose to ask an answerless question, and that question is at the core of our humanity. The before-and-after of life is a great darkness, and we build bonfires to keep it out, and warm ourselves and comfort ourselves. The bonfire is the bonfire of mythical thinking, of culture, stories, songs, music, poetry, religion, art. We don’t need it for our physical selves: homo heidelbergensis got on perfectly well without it: we need it for humanity’s supreme invention, the soul."
You can read the full article here.
Katherine is the author of four mythic fiction novels for young readers: Dark Angels and The Troll Trilogy, all of which I strongly recommend. Her work has been compared to Alan Garner's -- which is high praise indeed, but entirely deserved. (I'd also compare her fiction favorably to Susan Cooper's and Nancy Farmer's.) I'm particularly captivated by the author's skillful use of mythic motifs and the interplay of light and shadow in her stories -- which are page-turners to be sure, yet are also deep and complex and utterly true inside their fantasy trappings. The Troll Trilogy draws on Scandinavian myth, Dark Angels on the legends, lore and history of the border region between England and Wales. Katherine, who lives in Oxfordshire (where, as it happens, I'm having dinner with her tomorrow night) is better known on this side of the Atlantic than in America -- but I predict that's going to change in the years ahead. Don't miss these books.