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Reply To: In the Stillness of Love’s Madness, with Mythologist Norland Têllez


Hi my dear Shaheda,

Given these heady topics, I should like to remark on Jung’s statement above from Psychology and Alchemy:

“It is well that these things are difficult to understand and thus enjoy a wholesome concealment, for weak heads are only too easily addled by them and thrown into confusion. From all these dangers dogma—whether ecclesiastical, philosophical, or scientific—offers effective protection, and, looked at from a social point of view, excommunication is a necessary and useful consequence.” (CW12: 73-74¶93)

Jung seems to recognize that ideology has its social usefulness precisely in the institution of the scapegoating system, the system of sacrificial victimization upon which the experience of the archaic sacred rests. Both Freud and Girard point to the archetypal situation of the “primal murder” upon which human civilization is based. Where Freud invents the myth of the patricide of the primal horde, Girard sees in it the blood of sacrificial slaughter. He sees the social usefulness of ancient human sacrifice in precisely being able to channel the communal violence to a single scapegoated victim, one whose elimination from the community would bring about an experience of “purification” or catharsis. As Girard writes:

The victim is not a substitute for some particularly endangered individual, nor is it offered up to some individual of particularly bloodthirsty temperament. Rather, it is a substitute for all the members of the community, offered up by the members themselves. The sacrifice serves to protect the entire community from its own violence; it prompts the entire community to choose victims outside itself. The elements of dissension scattered throughout the community are drawn to the person of the sacrificial victim and eliminated, at least temporarily, by its sacrifice. (Violence and the Sacred 8)

I also suggest listening to Girard’s extended interview on YouTube:

I do find that his work adds some vital perspective on our field of mythological studies. Although many romantic enthusiasts for myth might find Girard’s conclusions incompatible or even hostile, serious scholarship should never close its door to the wealth of insight that’s out there.

And thanks again for your kind words; I’m glad our humble work here continues to find resonance around the globe—be well!