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Reply To: The Way of Art and Two-Way Roads” with Mythologist Craig Deininger”


Wow. Thanks for that rich content, Stephen. I’ll be reflecting on that for a long time. And those Jung-quotes are some heavy-hitters!

I love that you address Campbell’s retelling of Heinrich Zimmer’s order of best things. In approaching the question of what is numinous, we have from Zimmer’s quote the bookends and the middle in such succinct form. I suppose the work we do, grappling with words to touch, as it were, “the best things” puts us in “the next-best/misunderstood” category. But in this second tier, I feel like we’re still getting some of that residual numinosity seeping through, evidenced by the experience I have while engaging the words. In short, by how I “feel.” And as you bring up when you emphasize Jung’s correlation between archetype and emotion being inseparable, I get an emotional experience from those words as well.

But there it is, the archetype “charged with numinosity” and whose image is inseparable from the emotion. And that “that is why it is impossible to give an arbitrary (or universal) interpretation of any archetype.” I recognize I am conflating emotion and experience a little here, but will risk it all the same: The archetype is known by the experience. Period. And there I go again, futilely describing. And not sure if the over-confident tone did much to make the description any truer. But I’m just intrigued by the idea that maybe we always get some numinous contact–through even the most mundane content—content that’s not as profound and powerful as the archetype, for example. I guess that’s why I like writing poetry. I recently finished a poem about the cellophane wrapper of a dvd box-set. Now that’s pretty trivial! But the poem, against all odds, is a success. (Or so I’d like to think).

I know I’m leaping around here, but the content we’re in is vast and inspiring. I feel like a dog that’s been inside for a week, and then suddenly set loose in Yosemite or something. I really want to come back to this when I am more centered tomorrow and not fighting sleep and heavy schedule.

But I’d like to close off with this quote from Joseph Campbell in the Power of Myth since it speaks to some of what I’m trying to articulate while running every which way, getting chased by rangers and whoever let me off the leash:

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

What strikes me as most relevant in this quote, are the words “seeking,” “experience,” and “feel.” Anyway, I’m looking forward to more tomorrow!