Sumerian tablet from the 26th century BC.

The Logics of Myth 4

Basic Patterns of Creation Myths


4   Time-space dimensions of creation myths

However valuable an instrument the dramaturgy is in examining the story of a creation myth, it is not suitable for dealing with the very cosmology of it. For that, a tool of a less emotionally focused nature is needed - one of the mind, not the heart. We need to turn to the basic space-time of it.





Beginning

Although a creation myth has a beginning, it is not necessarily so that this is a beginning of time itself, and although it depicts the appearance of a spatial entity, it is by no means automatically the appearance of space itself. Usually, a spatial setting is implied, if not explicitly presented, and there is at least a hint of vast time preceding the moment of world creation.

       The space may be one of primeval water, of darkness and stillness, but there is most definitely a space, in which the world appears and which remains thereafter, but separate, isolated from the world. And the seemingly eternal clock of pre-creational time ticks on, right through and beyond the moment of creation - also way past a moment of world destruction, if one is foretold. This original, everlasting setting, is very much like a universe all of its own, existing somewhere else than where the world is, unaffected by it, though not indifferent to it.


Another dimension

In the language of science-fiction, that universe could be described as existing in another dimension. Anyway, it is most definitely a world completely distinguishable from that being created. As it is the very melting pot, containing the forces responsible for making the world created in the myth, it can be said that the world is created out of it, born from it like a child leaving its mother's womb.


The birth

The analogy to human existence can be taken further. The time preceding the birth of the world as well as that of the baby, is an unclear one of darkness, covered in water. And before that - an impenetrable eternity. The time following the death of a human being is also one of seemingly impenetrable eternity. Human existence is an alienated, short-time bodily appearance in the midst of all this eternity. The world created tends to be portrayed in the same way.


Start

Myth: Six Criteria


The Logics of Myth

Basic Patterns of Creation Myths

  1. Myth: Six Criteria

  2. Explanatory and Adventure Myths

  3. Dramaturgy in Creation Myths

  4. Time-space Dimensions of Creation Myths



This article was originally written in 1999 for a seminar at the Department of History of Ideas, Lund University, as a part of my dissertation in progress on Creation Myths and their patterns of thought. Published on the web on September 6, 2001.

© Stefan Stenudd 1999







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