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Reply To: The Editorial Function of Myth


    Wow Mars; such a beautiful articulation concerning much of what I was attempting to describe! To me Joseph’s insights reveal that much of man’s mythological realizations have to do with how they are read or interpreted; they have for whatever reason become concretized or personalized as factual instead of metaphorical; that they are referring to the deep spiritual mysteries and powers that lie within us.

    On more than one occasion he pointed out that many of these historical mythologies will work just fine if read another way; (for instance concerning Christianity); he suggests: if read metaphorically this represents a spiritual transformation within you; not something up in heaven or that there is an old man with a not so pleasant disposition telling you what to do because the devil will torment you in hell. No; it’s about the awakened compassion of the heart-life within you; suffering with others as if their pain is your own: “participation with joy in the sufferings of the world; finding within you the rapture of being truly alive; finding your bliss; your greatest joy and following that; not acquiescing to the guilt and shame of some: “thou shalt” system.

    One of the things Joseph mentions is thinking of this brief moment of existence we are given as: “participating in a wonder”; but that wonder as Joyce says is also a nightmare from which we are trying to awake; and the way to do that is to participate in the game of life. You play your part in this Grand Opera joyfully and willingly even though you realize it’s going to hurt; (sometimes deeply); and the final end of this great play is death. Religion should point toward a metaphoric way of living; not a command by some imaginary deity with a book of rules that says you are unworthy unless you follow them. These should be interpreted as spiritual insights, not something that demeans science unless it agrees with you. This planet is being torn apart by what Joseph called: “sanctified misunderstanding”.

    So here is where this: “little editor” comes in; it’s a discriminating factor within the individual that one uses to distinguish what these finer nuances are that may be directing us without us knowing it. (Click here for an example of that discriminating factor we are discussing where Joseph talks about the difference between a “sign and a symbol” as relates to this 5th editorial function; or “little editor” we all have.) Jung is in there as well as so many of the great spiritual masters who left behind deep insights of these great mysteries that have come down to us through the ages; and this realization we are talking about absolutely includes “Science” as well. Joseph mentions these insights as something we build on and there is a new version each season.

    My point was these new changes are accelerating so fast that man can hardy keep up; and Joseph refers to this new reality we now have to navigate as this: “free fall into the future”; and that many of these old myths have to be read in a new way; and that each individual is a free agent; not a slave. This idea of a “personal myth” is what he is referring to; it’s saying God is within you; and that “little editor” helps you to navigate this powerful mystery we are all riding on. In the DVD documentary about Joseph Campbell: “The Hero’s Journey”; there is a discussion section with a small group of people sitting on the floor where Joseph goes into great detail about this; (he doesn’t actually say “little editor”; but he is making this case quite seriously and provides examples that reveal these finer distinctions in a very accessible way.

    At any rate; this was my feeble attempt at this description; and I thought you articulated some of these things really well.  I would heartily recommend the DVD and the companion book as well because they continually help me in fleshing so many of his ideas where normally I would be just lost in the forest. My apologies for my earlier post attempts since I had to keep going back and rewriting them; and I’m still not quite satisfied with these results I’ve put down here; but that’s what having these discussions are all about; and Stephen has been doing such a tremendous job in getting these new Forums off the ground! (He or others may have some new things to add; so I’ll stop here.)