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A Final StoryScience, Myth, and Beginnings$
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Nasser Zakariya

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226476124

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500737.001.0001

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Cosmos and the Structure of “Epic Myth”

Cosmos and the Structure of “Epic Myth”

(p.307) Chapter Ten Cosmos and the Structure of “Epic Myth”
A Final Story

Nasser Zakariya

University of Chicago Press

Projections of scientific universal history amplified and made more customary the understandings of “myth” and “epic” as products of science rather than its obstacles. The 1980 series Cosmos structured and spread the account that Sagan had already expressed as the scientific consensus. The series was only the most prominent example of efforts to produce and relate such universal history as consensus among students, scientists, and a wider public. Stitching together “epic” and “myth,” Sagan and his coproducers broadcast an alliance of the terms with each other and with science, the broad fact of that association more culturally resonant than the specific conceptions making that association possible. Attention to contemporaneous thinkers who studied myth and epic, including Northrop Frye, Joseph Campbell, and Hans Blumenberg, further elucidate motivations for establishing the epic-mythic science of Cosmos and beyond. Their work clarifies the structure of the accounts that resulted, and the resistances “myth” and “epic” bear not only to “science” but to each other. These self-consciously produced myths mixed authorial and heroic codes, signaling the possibility that an evolutionary process could render their mythic truths invalid in time, should their human authors evolve in a way modifying beliefs in their own evolutionary story.

Keywords:   epic, myth, romance, Cosmos, Carl Sagan, Northrop Frye, Joseph Campbell, Hans Blumenberg, Hannah Arendt

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