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Reply To: Mythology is psychology misread.””


Hallo Stephen,

Your question has actually prompted me to think about my lack of connection to popular culture and especially American popular culture. I think you might already know I am from Germany, however, American culture has a very strong influence on what the world is connecting to these days. I am aware that Campbell found connection with the Star Wars movies. When I moved to the US in the 1980’s , I was not impacted very much by this popular series[although the German people loved this films and still do]. I think I probably did not understand the profundity in the underlying story as a retelling of a fundamental myth structure. I only began to view them differently after reading Campbell. I understand this mythic structure now,but since those films, I am not sure I have seen any other films where these fundamental mythic structures inform the story in the films.

I still find [when i ignore the theology that no longer speaks to me] the energy of the heroic message when I consider the suffering Christ. Mary-you ask me about the power of the image of the suffering Christ. I suspect it is a powerful image for it ability to express that pain that is deep and universal – a realization of vulnerability to abuse, to sacrifice in the name of something greater than ourselves, something we cannot understand but that is real. I make reference to Michelangelo Mensi’s [Caravaggio’] , Crowning with Thorns as an example of a metaphor of transcendence , of conversion in that sense of the apotheosis of the heroic journey-of an encounter with the eternal. It seems to me that this encounter is not simply with a representation of this encounter in the figure of Jesus but also that of the artist himself.  I image [I cannot prove this] that Caravaggio must have been affected by this encounter with the thing he created. Campbell in his own work – a glimpse into immortality, into the profundity of life through the stories  he encountered must have brought him too some transformation-at least how in how I  read, Fire in the Mind.

So , back to Stephen’s point, I suppose I do not have this encounter with that which is transcendent, that which elevates us to a higher plane of realization about this thing called life through popular culture and while I understand what you mean by not being able to determine ahead of time what that new myth might be, I am not able to see the clues in popular culture that might suggest some of what it might address. Maybe we are not yet ready to re-create that new myth in this time, for no small reason being the speed with change in our  daily lives occurs. The ancients I think might have had time to contemplate the great myths that informed them about life-Campbell also shares this, and yet… oddly this virus has forced us to encounter many things-our mortality, our vulnerability, our human need to question. I am trying to not necessarily understand this all,  but rather to encounter it seriously, in the myths that speak of these matters. Then perhaps we have a chance at something new -a new myth.