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Reply To: Defining Myth

#72104

Thanks for the warm response, Stephen. I feel very welcome and am excited to meet intelligent people with fascinating opinions and shared interests. I don’t meet many people in daily life that want to discuss such topics, so it’s a real treat.

I realize I broke format by going in a more personal and rhetorical, discussion-type direction (I’m a left-hand path kinda guy, and I like a back-and-forth,) so please allow me to mend the wound a little with this:

“Simply put, a mythology is a set of stories, of ideas, that tries to make sense of the world and our place in it. But these are big ideas – ideas that make you think.”

– Susan Sarandon, transcribed from her first monologue in the video series “Mythos” from the JCF.

 

“I see mythology, when it’s in a socially functioning way, as serving four functions.

The first function is what I would call the MYSTICAL function – it opens up a realization of the mystical dimension – that behind the surface phenomenology of the world, there is a transcendent mystery source, and that is the source also within yourself.

The second function has to do with the image of the world – what I would call the COSMOLOGICAL function. This changes radically from time-to-time. In the very early hunting, and planting, and gathering societies – a relatively small horizon – and the science was of that of what was visible. It was in terms of the visible world. The sun rose, went down. The moon rose, went down. With Copernicus, this all changed. The sun isn’t rising, it’s we that are twisting. The cosmology is totally changed. Cosmology and science changes…

The third function of mythology is SOCIOLOGICAL – to validate and maintain a certain, specific social order, here and now, of this specific society.

The fourth problem is the PEDAGOGICAL problem – guiding the individual harmoniously through the inevitable crises of the stages of life, in his world today – in terms of its goods, its values, its dangers.

-Joseph Campbell, transcribed from the first clip on disc 1 of the “Mythos” video series