I came across an interesting idea while reading about Joseph Campbell. In discussing the role of writers and artists, he said we are not mere mirrors of what is happening outside us (as most people are). We are rather transformers of the energy in the universe. The artists, therefore, must train him or herself to know “things as they are.” The outer universe must pour through his/her senses in a larger measure than with ordinary people. But then his/her mind has to come into play for s/he must interpret and transform, not merely reproduce, that energy.
As poet W.B. Yeats said, “The arts are, I believe, about to take upon their shoulders the burdens which have fallen from the shoulders of the priests.
What they are saying, obviously, is that writers and artists have become the interpreters of what is happening in our society and our universe, and we translate what we experience into the new myths. People crave these new myths, because the old religious myths have failed to evolve with a changing world and a deeper understanding of our nature.
We in the arts carry the burden of creating the myths that people will live by. It’s a huge responsibility, not to be taken lightly.