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Reply To: Incarcerated, But Not Imprisoned,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”

Dennis Slattery

    Thank you Shaheda, for the responses to James’ posting and indirectly to mine. Very rich. In JC’s Prologue to Primitive Mythology her makes this observation: “Man, apparently, cannot maintain himself in the universe without a belief in some arrangements of the general inheritance of myth. In fact, the fullness of his life would even seem to stand in a direct ratio to the depth and range not of his rational thought but of his local mythology” (4).

    Belief as myth; belief as ordering principle. This is my area of exploration these past months: “The Mythology of Belief” and I will be offering some retreats on it. We are in a terrain today where fundamental local and national mythologies are breaking down; what rushes to fill that void is fantasies, alternative facts and fictions to bolster ideologies. When ideologies trump myths, and I use the verb in full consciousness!–then a paralysis sets in. The infrastructure of the national and local souls run the risk of the disease of apathy. So, a unifying myth may not be possible until a further collapse of the condo of our national identity becomes more acute. Myths are infrastructures; they support the soul’s purposes and presentiments, her promises and her challenges. We are in the in-between state right now, as Ishmael says of Queequeg; he is neither caterpillar nor butterfly; he is in between, as we are now. Such a fluid terrain makes us skittish, but also encourages our courage to dream a revised mythos from among the rubble of the multiple stories of the condo of our nation. Becoming transparent to transcendence–JC’s language– is one way towards that end, fortified as it must be, with compassion as the new cement to hold it in place against hurricanes, seas and other challenges to its skyward push.

    The Human Stain is on my and Sandy’s viewing in the next two days. Thank you for enticing us further with your excellent plot summary, Shaheda.