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Reply To: The King Who Saved Himself From Being Saved” with Bradley Olson, Ph.D.”

Bradley Olson

    James, thank you for your warm welcome back!

    Thank you as well for your thoughtful comment. First, on the issue of the Hero’s manual, yes I think that many people are only able to think in terms of check listed steps or formulae, which result in living the kind of bureaucratic life that Campbell was appalled by. When one has a checklist, formula, or a blueprint already laid out, one lacks the adventure element of the journey. After all, the unexpected, the sudden twist in fortune, the intrusion of overwhelming forces, are what offer the opportunities for heroic responses. Developing algorithms to minimize surprise or randomness seems to corporatize heroism. Unfortunately, I think The Hero With a Thousand Faces has all too often been used as just such a manual, and people become obsessed with understanding what stage of the journey they’re in rather than experiencing the adventure organically.

    I really enjoyed your references to Daryl Sharp and his work, someone with whom I’m not familiar and seems to, like Hillman, value the human experience more than theoretical orthodoxy. Not wishing to be conscious is, it seems to me, the default setting for being human. The job of the analyst is much like that of Virgil guiding Dante through the Inferno: “Wisdom is earned, not given.” In other words, don’t get lost in your own story, you want to contextualize and understand your trauma rather than erecting memorials to it, and don’t forget this is, in some important way, a game, and that you are already what you seek.

    Thank you again, James, for your kind words and warm welcome. It is a pleasure and an honor to be able to offer something that resonates with a reader.