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Reply To: Myth: The Grammar of Creativity,” with Bradley Olson, Ph.D.”

Bradley Olson

Stephen thank you for reminding me of the etymology of the word dilettante. It’s too bad it’s now synonymous with a lack of knowledge, or being uncommitted, disengaged, or unskilled. I am most delighted in the world and in myself when I find my self in the perspective of a dilettante.

You make an important point that brings me back to the subject of mythic thinking:  you wrote of the importance of engaging “the mythic archetypes, rather than analyze, categorize, and systematize them to death.” This is the essence of mythic thinking: engaging the archetypal rather than the archetypes. The archetypal gives rise to archetypes, it is their ground of being, so to speak. Mythic thinking resolves to see through even the archetypes in order to explore the archetypal. One must be a dilettante to do that–a happy warrior. Campbell also makes the point in various places that that analyzing, categorizing, systematizing impulse prevents one from giving oneself over to the bliss of pure experience, which is the essence of transcendence. This is not to say that analysis, nomenclature, and understanding systems is of no value; quite the contrary, in fact. But as I say in the essay, there are some things about life and living that are stubbornly resistant to reason and intellect, and we should delight in our dilettantism, for those stubbornly resistant truths won’t yield themselves to anger or frustration, and if they yield at all, it would be to good humor, patience, and delight.