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


Dear Dennis,

Thank you so much for another thought provoking topic and your rich essay and thank you Stephen, James and everyone else who has participated in this thread. I have had an enormously wonderful time reading all the responses and assimilating them.

“…………. Incarceration is physical, while imprisonment is psychological and mythic.”

Dennis your words spoke to me as I watched the film “Human Stain”.  Imprisonment in life for Prof. Coleman Silk, was a lie on his job application. Born to African-American parents, he is light-skinned who passes for a Jew and even marries a Jewish woman. 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) and  has lived his life by breaking away from his family of birth as well.

As the story climaxes, he is accused of ‘racism’ by the University Board ———-using the word “spook”— “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 that he is living a life he never planned on living 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.   Lacking self-affirmation, one’s end is obscure, and the courage to affirm would have written a totally different ending, a different myth?

Thank you Dennis for the awesome citation —-The Masks of God, Vol. 3: Occidental Mythology: “The virtue of heroism must lie, therefore… not in the will to reform, but in the courage to affirm, the nature of the universe.”

I am reminded of  N. J. Girardot on the logic of myth:  “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’.

Shaheda (thanking all who are here)