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Reply To: The Editorial Function of Myth


Joseph: “From studies of mythology and past civilizations done by Joseph Campbell, at least five functions stand out as needing to be fulfilled by images, rituals, and institutions of a society. They are the mystical, the cosmological, the sociological, the pedagogical or psychological, and the editorial functions.”

Stephen: “I’d like to zero in on that last function, which doesn’t appear elsewhere in Joseph Campbell’s work:”

Stephen and Mars; I think maybe (both) concerning your response to his post: especially concerning how “memory” may play into all of this; and I’ll attempt to lay some of this out.

” (“Zero in,” by the way, is an American idiom for “focus one’s attention”; “nullifying the datum” is an intriguing spin, but if you think that’s what someone means if they say this in conversation, there will be major misunderstandings).
Your example of perceiving time as moving in one direction definitely speaks to this question – indeed, seems a blind spot common to most humans, apart from those experiencing altered states of consciousness. That strikes me as more a result of biological limitations than cultural conditioning, but certainly is something we don’t see – though we can imagine it.”

(I had to rewrite the following post because my first attempt was just too unorganized.)

I think your observation about the biological plays into this but how we perceive and react from the wide range of differences in our individual makeups; physical age, psychological development, and cultural background may vary widely both as to mental, cultural, and biological differences. Why? Because modern demands have become so great that they have altered societies usual interpretation concerning perception of one’s reality; both social and individual. In other words the way something is actually experienced can be from completely different viewpoints in which modern social development has undergone enormous change. And this would have a huge amount of variation concerning reconciling these various realities. Joseph called this: (“a free fall into the future”). To me the bridging of varying perceptions becomes a major concern because the modern world has put such huge demands on interconnecting cross-cultural as well as diverse modes of interplay that the psyche becomes disoriented; and memory without meaning becomes lost without direction.

(Let me say this another way that Joseph helped to point out.) “Cultural” borders have dissolved and the “myths” that held them together no longer apply. Technology has had such an enormous impact over the decades; and with the ever-increasing population growth and increased complexity of social development that the editorial function has had to absorb; “memory” as well as normal decision making becomes overtaxed in finding meaning, making decisions, and communicating.

For instance as a point of reference; the orient vs the occident; male vs female, light vs dark, young vs old, are all dualities; opposites that makeup polarity; but there are shades of differences that can be important in application as to their relevance to a problem to be solved or perception to be understood; and if you add technological demands adds further stress to an overtaxed system. So how would technology play into this? The ever accelerating speed of technological growth has pushed through the old boundaries that myth usually informed. Joseph referred to this as the: “airport society” where one could fly anywhere in the world in a matter of hours; and man’s understanding is no longer contained within the cultural boundaries of his older society. After I got through reading my usual “internet” newsfeed I saw so many communication problems concerning so many of these types of polarities; I think Stephen’s topic of a 5th “editorial function” is a big deal. To me I would call this situation: overloaded “cross-pollination” between polarities; which would require a more complex bridging between a larger range of an individual’s memory capacities.

The point I’m attempting to describe is it was only after thinking on this subject for the last few days that the it struck me how all these different variables could be tied together into one topic issue; which both of you are exploring concerning this 5th “editorial” function. Now whether any of this could be tied to affecting a mental disorder such as: schizophrenia, dementia, psychosis, neurosis, or some other “psychoid -factor” since they all deal with perception and “memory” I have no idea. But because from a Jungian viewpoint these would have “archetypal” influences and might also include the “shadow” as well as the normal functioning ego I think possibly it might. I’m am not a medical doctor nor an analyst but I would think  from what I interpret of Joseph’s views because now you have Jungian as well as the wide range of psychological dynamics that he saw this sort of thing as a coming concern because humans need meaning when navigating chaos. So now you have Joseph’s idea of a “personal myth” as navigator as opposed to a “cultural” myth.

I hope this is a little clearer than my last unorganized attempt.)