Reply To: Incarcerated, But Not Imprisoned,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”
“ Each person’s life has it’s own context and mine certainly is no different; but for me the catalyst and guiding force was the individual personal myth; and up to that point my life was so very chaotic. So this idea of personal myth is a big deal to me because I have lived with it and understand what significance it can make within one’s life context. I’ve thought about this topic a lot ever since I saw it on Dennis’s blog; .”
James, what a prolific, powerful and thought evoking piece. Many lines cause me to pause, and evaluate the many stages in my own life where I felt ‘lost’. One’s personal myth is as you say, ‘a big deal’. As Joe says, “If you live with the myths in your mind, you will find yourself always in mythological situations. They cover everything that can happen to you. And that enables you to interpret the myth in relation to life, as well as life in relation to myth”
I realized I was lost only when I took time to reflect, but then the feeling of being lost was fleeting, because I was sailing on a boat without a rudder and I remained lost off and on until I began ‘following my bliss’…
Of course following one’s bliss also implies, “As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off.” Well, there are still huge blisters from following my bliss, but I have learned when to stand up and when to sit down.
Regarding the film Human Stain that I mentioned in my response to Dennis. It confirmed the notion that a personal myth is a ‘big deal’. “Not having the courage to change the narrative” is what the film “Human Stain” is about (IMO)
In this film, Prof. Coleman (Anthony Hopkins) is living a dream life as a Prof. of Classics, but is also living a lie, by passing as a Jewish immigrant, instead of a light skinned handsome young man born to African-American parents. In search of a job, he entered ‘white’ as his race, thinking that he would easily get the spot in the Navy, which he did. Later in life, he is a Professor of Classics, (played by Anthony Hopkins) married successful and blissful by many measures.
As the story climaxes, he is accused of ‘racism’ by the University Board ———-He is quoted as having said, “Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?” – – (he has never seen these students, and has no idea they are African-American). In anger he resigns, his wife dies and one day he falls in love with a young woman Faunia (played by beautiful Nicole Kidman). After his wife’s death, he begins to live a life he never planned, but to which he is attracted as a moth loves the flame. The end leaves one wondering. Was he killed by Lester (Faunia’s jealous husband) or by Lester who could have discovered Coleman’s heritage and thus led Coleman to end it all himself? A lie about his race got him the job, and accused of racism is how he loses the job.
I wish you could find time to watch this James. In the film, Prof. Coleman hires a investigative journalist to write about his life and to cover the wrong done to him by the University Board. There too, he lacked courage to disclose his ethnicity. I am reminded of Joe’s words, “why write a limerick when you can write a sonnet.” I am so moved by the words of N. J. Girardot, “The logic of myth claims that there is always no matter how it’s disguised, qualified and suppressed a hidden connection or inner law linking chaos and cosmos and nature and culture’.
James what you wrote (see below)fits Prof. Coleman’s personal myth to a “T”,
“There is a terrific version of the Hero/Call/Quest motif he gives in one of his lectures where he talks about the “formula of quest”. He says it starts when life dries up and something is missing so the hero goes in quest to find out what it is and make it his own. It is a solitary call by nature and you must become a detective, a hunter following a path into your own dark forest where you don’t know where you are going or what it is you are looking for but you are following this razor’s edge of your night-sea journey to find your grail castle where the answers or illuminations reside. (And the important thing here he stresses is that “there are no set rules” for how this motif unfolds.) It is unique to you alone.”