Against Freudian Myth-Interpretations

Mircea Eliade on the prominence of ‘Freudian’ interpretations of mythology:

“The interpretations of Freud are more and more successful because they are among the myths accessible to modern man. The myth of the murdered father, among others, reconstituted and interpreted in Totem and Taboo. It would be impossible to ferret out a single example of slaying the father in primitive religions or mythologies. This myth was created by Freud. And what is more interesting: the intellectual élite accept it (is it because they understand it? Or because it is “true” for modern man?)”

Now, we tend to take a fairly dim view indeed of Freudian this that and the other thing. Some times, a cigar is just a cigar … and sometimes an attempt to forcibly insert a phallic metaphor into a mythoreligious expression is just plain affrontery arguably worse than more conventional euhemericism. This is not to say that there aren’t some occasionally rather curious and even downright lurid sexual or psychosexual elements in some authentic ancient scriptural and broader mythological materials. Because of course there are.

But the sadistic glee with which some out there in the academisphere and elsewhere seem to take in reducing just about anything, regardless of tenability, to … pretty much exactly and simply that, I would perhaps indulge in a bit of a ‘Freudian’ pseudonalysis by suggesting it might have to do with some concealed or repressed circumstances of their own rather than anything authentic nor endogenous to the myths in question.

Or, as Eliade puts it with a characteristic cutting simplicity … maybe it’s just because it’s easier for them to understand than the truth.

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