DID YOU KNOW the word “tantalize” comes from the Greek myth of Tantalus? You’ve probably heard that Jesus died for your sins, but did you know that Prometheus got chained up for eternity and disemboweled anew each day by an eagle for you right to BBQ? Are you interested in more mythological trivia? And does this juvenile Q&A approach feel as degrading to you as it does to me? If so, you’re in the right place.

What is this Substack?

Aside from delivering essential arcana on errant Titans and miscreant kings, MOSTLY MYTH is where the issues of our day are massaged, probed, and often violated through myth. Desperate times call for disparate measures, so expect shape-shifting and cross-pollination: fables, parables, tall tales, parodies, you name it. Think fairy tales for news junkies. Think reverse-engineering media myths. Think edging. Sorry, I’m just trying to keep your attention.

I seek to court hardened news junkies too stony for fiction and, on the other end, softened literati too delicate for the fray. Enough languishing in the muck or picking at navel lint, come ring around the rosy with me. And, who knows, you too may find that a change of scenery and looking glass reveals a few of your givens to be, in fact, mostly myth.

Sounds messy.

Don’t worry, I’m organized. This Substack has sections. In the “Rogues Gallery” you’ll examine the mugshots of mythmakers like George Orwell and Mary Shelley. Perhaps you’re striving in the unacknowledged dark to be a mythmaker yourself. These rogues will light a fire under your ass. If they don’t, you’re likely dead inside.

In “In Second Person” you’ll read tales in 2nd person POV that you put you at the center of the action. Don’t take it personally if things end up badly for you, because they will. It’s only so that, during your second chance in the real world, you don’t botch it again.

How do I get your posts?

Intravenously, via email. Subscribe for regular drip treatments.  They’re all free. My aversion to paywalls may not be pragmatic, but I hope you appreciate the impulse. With time I will introduce some tantalizing ( a word whose etymology you now know) paid features. But first I need to convince you Mostly Myth is worth your time.

How often do you send them out?

About once a week. Rain or shine.

Why subscribe?

Because, in this digital candyland, we’ve binged on too much fast food for the brain. Our senses have been overrun, our consciousness hijacked. Whether from the sugary minutiae of our modern news factory or the enfeebled frivolity of much of our fiction, our spirits have turned flabby and bland. A sagging, unexercised mind cannot focus or discern; it loses all independence and becomes an easy target for dogma. That’s why so many allegedly self-formed opinions nowadays are nothing but the parroting of pieties, the unwitting whisper of propaganda in a vast game of telephone. But there are greater costs. The more we disengage our imagination, the further we retreat into shadows to slobber at gaudy illusions on the cave wall. And there we remain, slouched, paling into ever more wan silhouettes of our greater, lustier selves. In short, we grow weak, we live feebly. But there is a way out of the white noise and quiet desperation, there’s always a way out. It just requires jumpstart cables and electric kool-aid, a jolt of energy and a communion of liquid fire to get your juices flowing and return the color to your cheeks. To not just keep the cave walls from closing in but also find that sliver of sunshine.

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Good lord, who are you?

CONSTANTINE MARKIDES is a writer based in New York. A former correspondent for the international daily Cyprus Mail, he has worked with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and was featured on CBC and NPR’s Marketplace. His essays and fiction have been published in various magazines and journals, including Rolling Stone. He is the coauthor of the award-winning Chasing Water.

Please drop the blurbspeak. Let’s try again. Who are you?

I am an invisible writer who is based, but temperamentally displaced, in Brooklyn. I have recklessly and ludicrously sacrificed the bulk of my creative life to writing sprawling, cryptic works in bondage to the Greek gods. The most proper job I’ve held was as a reporter in a smoky Cypriot newsroom where drinking on the job was encouraged. The paper, bless its heart, was “international” only because copies were also sold each day to London expats. Though I was once paid as a stringer for a few days during the Lebanon War to drive Anderson Cooper around Cyprus and feed him local info, it’s a stretch to say I “worked” with the CNN anchor, who would unlikely remember me and would surely disdain my media critiques. I was also only “featured” on CBC and NPR in the unnoteworthy sense that I was interviewed as a journalist on the ground. Though adept by then, I was initially a terrible writer, who spent years scribbling in mawkish journals and typing up an embarrassing autobiography. I improved only because I was stubborn and megalomaniac enough to ignore sound advice. My best works are unpublished. They are lewd and extravagant novels, stuffed with enough allusion and metaphor to have even made the eyes of James Joyce roll. I was lazy in submitting. My most cherished reply from anyone was that my writing was “too strange.” Instead of doubling down upon receiving rejections, I retreated into a narrow-eyed scorn that, one day, in my inevitable posthumous apotheosis, I would show those visionless dimwits. The only reason I wrote a feature for Rolling Stone, who wanted one of its regulars to author a profile on the Olympian swimmer Anthony Ervin, is because the athlete, who is as mulish as I am, insisted it be me. This 2012 feature led to a book deal and to the 2016 publication of Chasing Water. The book won us an International Swimming Hall of Fame authors award but, outrageously, did not lead to literary fame. During the early Covid days of dwindling toilet paper inventories, I pitched another feature to RS on the joys and virtues of washing one’s ass instead of wiping it. I never heard back.

You sound like you need help. How can I help?

By reading and liking and commenting, and above all by recommending Mostly Myth to your friends, family, and social networks. I would appreciate that greatly. Because as you know, mythery loves company.

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a safe space for heresy

People

On record, a writer and ex-journalist; off record, a lowly myth worker in pursuit of semi-consciousness