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Reply To: The Ripening Outcast, with Mythologist Norland Tellez


What Norland responded above stands out to me:

This brings me back to Stephen’s wonderful paraphrase which I think is worth repeating:

‘If I understand correctly, you are saying that a living mythology isn’t something one believes in, like choosing a religion today, but is experienced simply as “what is” – part of the warp and woof of a culture – what a member of that culture knows to be true, perhaps akin to the way we experience gravity or know the world to be round.’

I am thinking now about religion, how being a child raised in a religion is then simply a “what is” to that child who accepts that religion because they are told that their religion is true. Many people grow up believing in the religion they were taught/raised to believe in, whatever that religion just so happens to be. So I am thinking about how the “what is” to so many people is a matter of happenstance–until they get older and begin to question things, if  they indeed begin to question things and get to wherever that may lead. We often accept the happenstances of our culture–its beliefs and conditionings. Also, I am now reminded of a book on the reading list for a class I took in Complex Theory called The Cultural Complex: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives on Psyche and Society Edited by Thomas Singer and Samuel L. Kimbles that I can highly recommend for this topic in this thread. Below are some key phrases, ideas, and quotes from the book in reference to mythology and living myths:

  • […] the inner world of trauma, [and] the outer domain where myth, psyche, and politics intersect”
  • […] to illustrate the reality of the collective psyche and the power of collective emotion to generate living myths [or more appropriately here to Norland’s terminology “archetypal psyche”]
  • Thomas Singer wrote about how Donald Kalshed (1966) had published his book, The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit and how there are not only archetypal defenses of the personal spirit but also archetypal defenses that protect the collective spirit or any traumatized “group soul.”
  • These protective archetypal agents are, he says, the daimons.
  • These archetypal daimons can be individual, collective, or both; Singer wrote that, “Perhaps they even found their earliest historical expression in group life rather than that of the single person, when the psychology of the individual was less developed and the survival of the group more in the forefront.”  The group as the collective might apply here nicely to Norland’s theme here because this quote can help describe how the archetypal psyche can be both individual and collective and not belong to just the individual or a group–it helps demonstrate (for me, anyway–it might not speak to each person here the same way, of course)  a difference between what might be regarded as the archetypal psyche as opposed to the collective.  As Kevin Lu has said/written, we are all born into a group, implying that the group psyche is already in motion from our earliest days and that thus our cultural complexes have in that sense already begun when we are born into a family that is within a cultural group in the then larger societal culture. This too can apply as Norland says into the types of caste systems of other cultures besides Indian culture. (The paraphrasing I provided of Kevin Lu is taken from an article of his article on a response to Singer and in personal communication–I would need to find that article in order to cite it and my home office is pretty much all packed up at the moment as I am still in transit to my new house.)

Singer also wrote, which is in lieu of this Mythblast,

Jung’s earliest work at the Burgholzli led to the development of his theory of compelxes which even now forms the foundations of day-to-day clinical work of analytical psychology., In fact, there was a time when the founders of the Jungian tradition considered calling it “complex psychology.” Later, Joseph Henderson created a much needed theoretical space between the personal and archetypal levels of the psyche which he called “the cultural level of the psyche.” This cultural level of the psyche exists in both the conscious and unconscious.

  • This chapter in the book is chapter one and is written with this description to introduce the purpose of the chapter to to then, elaborate upon Jung’s theory of complexes as it manifests itself in the cultural level of the psyche. There are several examples of this archetypal level of the psyche as pertains to groups in this chapter such as political upheavals and hatred against various cultural groups and even the split between Freud and Jung to help illustrate cultural complexes in which the archetypal defenses (part of archetypal psyche–defenses would be survival instincts and instincts as archetypal) in regards to groups or individuals, since individuals ‘belong in’ or at least live within a group.
  • With all the group protectiveness currently operative in group psyches and in individual psyches in our current times (including Stephen’s “I can’t breathe!” Mythblast, I kept thinking of this material that it may be a good read at this time, this book on the cultural complex and how it relates (or seems to, to me) to both Norland’s and Stephen’s recent Mythblasts.

The more I think on this Mythblast and do close reading, closer and closer each time, the more I am getting out of it. It is so rich and layered like the many “levels” or strata of the psyche (for illustrative purposes only, not actual floors of a skyscraper!)