I was rather fascinated by May’s citation of this particular aspect of Adler’s work:
Out of his great skill in treating children, Adler developed his central concern with the “guiding fiction,” which is a synonym for “myth.” It refers to a significant event in one’s early childhood that the person remembers, the event is turned into a myth which the person keeps as a guide for one’s way of life, whether it is fictitious or not. The person refers to this guiding fiction down through subsequent years as the secret myth of oneself.
For one thing, it seems to me to be an important clarification of May’s use of the term “myth.” More importantly, for me it raises the question of what my own “guiding fiction” was and to what extent I’ve ever been consciously aware of the “guiding fiction.” Considering how important Christmas has always been to me, I tend to look back to it to discover any guiding fiction I might have.
I’m pretty sure all the cowboy toys and my much beloved “Fort Apache” would have to play a part in that guiding fiction, but I’d like to think that the tale of The Happy Prince, a story I remembered in December of 2001 while reminiscing about Christmas also played a part in that guiding fiction. In 2001 I couldn’t find a copy of the story anywhere, though it would have been the perfect Christmas present. It was only this year through the magic of youtube that I was finally able to rehear the tale, though the images almost detract from the recording for me:
I was amazed how vividly I remembered the story 50+ years later. It’s clear that this recording was very important to me or I would never have remembered it so vividly. I’ve actually listened to it several times since discovering it, and still find myself strangely sad when the Prince’s heart breaks, not to mentioned outrage by the council members who pull the Prince down and throw him on the trash heap.
If May is right when he argues:
Memory is the mother of creativity. This is a myth worth pondering. For it is in memory that one saves and savors the significant experiences, the dazzling sights, the critical events. In memory these precious experiences form themselves together into a myth which tells a story. We say we “sleep on an idea,” and when we wake up we may feel we have arrived at a new insight, as though it were a gift from the gods. And who is to say it is not. Mnemosyne or “Memory” is the goddess who puts together our materials with which new materials are made and poems are written and great books and enduring paintings are inspired.
Then The Happy Prince is certainly a “precious experience” that may be part of my “guiding fiction.” I hope so.