Myths: More Truthful Than Newspaper Articles?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

British novelist Salley Vickers argues that dismissing art and literature involving the supernatural as "escapist" is a mistake. Though not a fantasy novelist, she has worked myths, spirits, and angels into her books. And in her view, that's a strength: "Myth externalizes in a narrative form the kind of abiding preoccupations that human beings have," she explains in a video interview with The Guardian. It deals with "essential problematic issues" like birth, death, sex, and parent-child relationships. Here's why she thinks spirit stories can access truth in a way that art and religion can, but journalism often can't:

It could be perceived that I am writing a kind of escapist literature. But the reason I do it is that I think angels, gods, goddesses, spirits, ghosts, and so forth represent those elements in human consciousness which are invisible to other people but occupy large areas within our own economic psyche. They are, if you like, projections of emotional components in our nature as well, I think, as ways of giving shape and form to the sometimes hard to explain and mysterious elements in human human experience. Angels, ghosts, etc. are also ways of giving form and shape to those moments in human life when something mysterious happens which cannot be quite accounted for but nevertheless gives some kind of significance or meaning to human life. And probably art and religion offer ways of expressing the intensity of reality the dilemma of reality the problem of reality more expressively, more compellingly, I would say often more truthfully, than the more naturalistic kind of expression say in a Guardian newspaper article.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.