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Reply To: Mythology is psychology misread.””


Hello, Stephen and Johanna,

I didn’t mean to abandon the conversation in my post. I got distracted doing other things for a while. I would like to reinsert myself in the dialogue with the following reflection:

We all experience psychologically. I would say that alll human experiences are psychological experiences, if I am allowed to make one grandiose statement. The human psychology and experiences of the past are still available to us, but in a different modality of experience: mythological. If we think about it, what we humans experience, and our modes of behavior have not change since the inception of man in nature. This is the context in which I understand the following statements found in the article linked above:

‘Myths are “the archetypal model of all creations, no matter of the plan which they relate to: biological, psychological, spiritual. The main function of the myth is that of establishing exemplar models in all the important human actions”.
Mircea Eliade’

“This point of view agrees with that of the psychologists Rudica and Costea (2003, p.8): “all great mythological creations describe, at the level of common psychological sense, the entire dramaturgy of our inner life”.

“Therefore, we can understand better the diversity of dimensions ancient Greek myths have:
literary (the expedition of the Argonauts)
historic (The Trojan War)
esoteric (the orphic mysteries)
initiatory (the voyage of Ulysses)
moral (Daedal and Icar)
psychological (the story of Oedipus)
philosophic (the legend of cosmogony)
social (the ages of humanity)”

When we speak of a new mythology, we should ask ourselves: Is man capable of new experiences, and I do not mean new ways of experiencing love, suffering, cruelty, injustice and so forth, but a new psychological human experience, and are we capable of new modes of behavior, ways in which we have not behaved before that have not being mythologised already? Can we add something new to our collective mythological human biography, history and cosmology, to its gigantic reference library. That is how I understand Eliade’s description of myths as patterns that serve as models for human behavior and that can help us integrate biological, psychological and spiritually.

Joseph Campbell describes four functions of mythology (Copied from an Internet source).

“1.  The Metaphysical function serves to awaken the consciousness of its consumers to a reality lying just beyond the veil of normal perception.”

“2.  The second function of mythology is the Cosmological.  The Cosmological function provides the boundary conditions of the universe, explaining the origins, shape, size, location, and birth and death dates of things such as time, space, matter, energy, biological organisms, and the universe as a whole.”

“3.  The third function of mythology is the Sociological, dealing with validating the order and ideas of a culture.  Myth can provide a model of social behavior that, when adhered to, makes for a not-so-squeeky cog in the great machine.”

“4.  The Pedagogical function of mythology serves the psychological sphere of human existence.  By establishing rites of passage into critical stages of life, from dependency to maturity, old age, and finally death, myth provides guideposts and beacons to serve as a reminder that there is a purpose.”

Notice that the four functions reference the past. Mythology is not about describing or inventing the new. It seems to me that mythology is about adaptation, not discovery. Maybe the question we should ask is not what will the new mythology be, but in what new ways can we engage mytholoy to allow it to fulfill its four functions. And this is a round about way of also addressing your question, Stephen, about the shift in our culture from written text to films.