“We all must live within a system”; was one of Joseph’s clarifications about modern human existence. And his point had to do with how myth would help one accomplish that; not change it but to live within it under whatever kinds of trials and tribulations that one might encounter. The modern technological and social conditions mankind now faces have much to do with the tremendous rate of change whereby what was relevant one moment would evolve into something else at an ever increasing rate of speed so that human society is now in; as he put it: “a freefall into the future”. And by this he meant that the myths that had been the glue that had held them together no longer worked and the individual is thrown back on themselves in learning how to navigate this new landscape they now find themselves in. And here is where his understanding of Carl Jung’s themes begin to come into play along with the ideas of: Adolph Bastian’s local myth (Desi); and universal myth (Marga); Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of 5 values: survival, security, personal relationships, prestige, and self-development; and Oswald Spengler’s: “Decline of the West”, which had to do with the ever increasing disintegration of western civilization. These have nothing to do with what a mythically inspired person lives for; as he says in: “Pathways to Bliss”; on page 91:
“The beginning of a mythic world or a mythic tradition is a seizure–something that pulls you out of yourself, beyond yourself, beyond all rational patterns. It is out of such seizures that civilizations are built. All you have to do is look at those monuments, and you’ll see that these are the nuttiest things mankind ever thought of. Look at the Pyramids. Just try to interpret them in terms of rational means and aims or economic necessities; think of what it means in a society with the technology of Egypt—which is to say practically nothing—to build a thing that massive. The cathedrals, the great temples of the world, or the work of any artist who has given his life to producing these things—-all of these things come from mythic seizure, not from Maslow’s values. The awakening of awe, the awakening of zeal, is the beginning, and curiously enough, that’s what pulls people together.
People living for these 5 values are pushed apart. Two things pull people together: aspiration and terror. These are what glue a society together.”
Joseph goes on to describe some of the mythic themes that informed these early cultures such as the Christian doctrines of salvation from the: “Fall from the Garden” of Original Sin, the Church being the vessel of Grace through Redemption and Salvation with the whole society intertwined around the Church, God, and the business of these ideas where he ends with on: (page, 94): “You have this amazing culture whose whole purpose is to cleanse each individual soul from the terrible error of the disobedience in the Garden of Eden.”
But what he is driving at in my view is humanity has now evolved to a place where these ancient mythologies if read “literally” no longer serve the functions for which they were originally designed; (they are out of date); as Joseph put it in his series of conversations with Bill Moyers in: “The Power of Myth”. So therefore the individual is as he stated: “thrown back on themselves; and must learn to find their own way”. And here is where his idea of one’s: “personal myth” emerges; and with this the psychological ideas of Carl Jung. The template motifs of the: “Journey-Adventure of the (thousand-faced) Archetypal Self/Hero”; or free agent; has now replaced that of the suppliant worshiper of the deity; and the individual has now become the god of their own destiny. And like that of the Hindu Upanishads; the gods are all within; not without. You are one with nature; a strand in the web of life; not a separate entity unto itself dictated on how to live to by a spiritually and psychologically outdated and dysfunctional: “thou-shalt” system. And this is what I would interpret as Stephen’s topic reference to an: “archetypal psyche”; that is if I’m understanding this reference correctly in it’s proper context.