Before sunrise this morning, I wheeled the garbage pail to the curb and noticed I could see a lot more than I usually could in the dark. A phenomenal full moon cast its light so bright, I paused to think about it. It suddenly, um, dawned on me that today was Friday the 13th. I thought for a moment about triskaidekaphobia, the paralyzing fear of the number 13. I imagined that it would be a big deal if I believed in superstitions.
Of course, I do believe in superstitions; I just convince myself that I am a highly evolved rational human being who has taught himself better. But I buy into fictions every day; as is noted in Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens, the whole of humankind owes its enduring existence to working in service to these fictions. Back in the ancient world, these fictions were developed into myths and folktales. In the modern age, American colonists, for instance, developed the fictional concepts of mankind being born with rights. Modern American lawyers invented the Limited Liability business entity, too--a legal fiction that is still quite popular.
But fictions and myths don't have to be high and mighty and humorless. When I was a kid, I loved Greek and Norse myths. It's no accident that so many of the great comic books are based on so many of the most entertaining myths. As a kid, I decided to try my hand at writing myths. I still remember one of my favorites, and shared it my oldest son. It was the story of Princess Shish, who ruled over her walled village and fought valiantly on horseback alongside the village's elite knights . The walled village was often threatened by beasts from the surrounding forests, so Shish and the knights would go out with long lances to preemptively strike. One time, they were surrounded by a particular species of beast, which was particularly strategic, and lined up in hordes. This beast was known as the Kebob Troll.
You can see what's coming from a mile away. Shish and the knights charged the lines of Kebob hordes, and lanced them all in a row. And this is why we have shish kebobs. There is no real lesson here. Nothing based in morals or ideals. It was all pretty silly (much like a fear of the #13). But sometimes a fiction is just a fiction. And I got my son to laugh, so that's all that mattered.