Masters of Myths – From Homer to Hollywood

Hugh O’Neill

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
JFK, [Yale University, 1962]

We lied. We cheated. We stole.”
Mike Pompeo, [Texas A&M University, April 2019]

Comparing the above two quotes, clearly much has changed in 57 years: in the former, the President was attempting to educate Academia about the dangers of non-thinking; the Pompeo quote proved that JFK’s efforts were in vain i.e. morality and critical thinking were defunct, and that myths, lies and illusions had trumped reality, truth and fact. Despite our world facing climate and economic chaos, unelected zealots beat the drums for war in the nuclear age. Truth has disappeared into the abyss of propaganda, and madmen have taken charge of the asylum.

JFK may have done the word “myth” a dis-service: Joseph Campbell asserts that all mythologies give insights into the Human Condition, thus contain essential truths. But why do we have myths? It is impossible to follow the Homeric epics without some knowledge of Greek Mythology: heroes’ successes, failures and special powers were depended on the fickle intervention of various gods i.e. mortal men attempted to explain the complexities of events and factors (seemingly) beyond their mortal control.

Temporal Power has always enlisted Divine Power e.g. Pharaohs, Roman Emperors, Stewart Kings and Japanese Emperors. The Athenians gathered their treasure at the Parthenon (Temple of Athena) – for safekeeping (hence the classical façade of Banks).

Jesus of Nazareth threw the money-changers and other racketeers out of the House of God in Jerusalem, thus incurring the enmity of the religious authorities. The Knights Templar acquired wealth from pilgrim protection making them bankers for kings, until their destruction by Philip IV of France. The Medici Bankers actually became Popes – such was the marriage of financial and religious power.

G.K Chesterton wrote that when a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything. More worrying in this nuclear age is Pompeo’s zealous belief – widely shared by the US Military Industrial Complex – in the cult of “The Rapture” focussed on a catastrophic war in Israel (according to a 1988 paper by Larry Jones, Columbia University).

In Homer’s Odyssey, the wooden horse device to destroy Troy demonstrated the cunning of Odysseus (and the gullibility of the Trojans?). The story was refined by Roman poet Vergil, whose “Aeneid” was written to bestow a measure of divinity upon his patron – the first Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar – and to create a myth for Rome to justify its place in History. Vergil inserts the agent, Sinon – left behind by the departed Greeks – whose mission is to convince the Trojans that the horse is a tribute both to Troy and to the Goddess Athena.

Sinon’s story was doubted by Cassandra (bloody Conspiracy Theorist!). Cassandra was a priestess (and daughter of King Priam) gifted with the ability to foresee the future, but cursed with no-one heeding her warnings. (Think Big Oil, Tobacco, State-Surveillance etc.).

In our more enlightened era, we no longer have any gods to blame for the fickle nature of fate, so must look for other explanations. Who now decides how and why wars are started and drag on endlessly? Step forward the unelected and unaccountable Government agencies like CIA, MI6, Mossad who all operate under the guise of “Plausible Deniability” creating a “Cult of Intelligence” (in Marchetti’s memorable phrase), spooks who believe they are above the laws of God and Man.

They cheat, they lie, they steal; they also subvert democracies, engineer coups, false-flag operations and assassination programmes; they run highly profitable drug cartels and enslave whole tracts of Humanity; they murder journalists and corrupt academia; they have subverted the public forum with tsunamis of disinformation and propaganda. So stupefied by their unaccountable powers, they consider themselves elite and many indeed go mad in the process. Tellingly, Allen Dulles, former head of the CIA (until sacked by JFK) remarked to writer Willie Morris: “That little Kennedy. He thought he was a god.”

But the diabolic Dulles knew better. Who guards the guards?

The exercise of power requires control of the narrative: Orwell said that whoever controls the present, controls the past [and future]. The making of myths is as old as Homer – and for all the same reasons. Just as the Fall of Troy must have been a traumatic event, involving treachery, rape, slaughter and every crime imaginable, then the truth had to be sanitised as a noble quest to rescue the kidnapped Helen, wife of Menelaus.

Likewise, Pearl Harbor shocked Americans to shift immediately from Isolationism to entering WWII, precisely as planned by FDR, thus the truth of the events must forever be withheld. The CIA committed regicide, but their control of the narrative has kept them immune.

Mythologist, Philip Zelikow has toiled deeply in the JFK archives, seeking to control past narratives. Zelikow, like Cassandra, foretold the events of 9/11 but patently, only his fellow neo-cons believed his 1998 prophesy, “Catastrophic Terrorism”. Likewise, he was able to write the 9/11 Commission report before the Commission began. Zelikow’s ability tends towards the mythical.

Since those in power control the narrative, then Henry Ford’s remark that “History is bunk” should be our caveat, and we must exercise due scepticism. In this post-literate world, fewer people read History books and mainly acquire their scant historical awareness through films and TV. The Homeric epics were performed to pre-literate audiences for 800 years before being committed from memory to paper. Imagine future (post-apocalyptic) archaeologists trying to understand history if their only (most unlikely) resource was Hollywood films. We are the myth-informed.