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Reply To: “Love Will Make You Do Crazy Things,” with Mythologist Norland Téllez

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Thank you Stephen, thank you for bringing us back to the mythic dimension; after all, this is what we have to offer here at the Joseph Campbell Foundation. Anyone looking for something else is welcome to search elsewhere.

Despite their significant differences, James Hillman is in total consort with Campbell on one fundamental thing (something I also share with them): rather than teaching us literal myths, both these men were much more interested in teaching us to think mythically. This is the task, this is the toil; it is the way of the complex dialectics of depth mythologizing, as I understand it.
And you are quite correct to surmise that the main interest of my blast is not “the slap” per se. As you said, ever since the event took place, we have been bombarded and ate up slews of the common-place “human-all-too-human” talks and rants—whether psychologistic, moralistically, and “spiritualistic” or pseudo-mythic— ad nauseum and there is no need to repeat all that noise in here. What we do here is something more special, indeed of a “higher order.”

As mythologists, our duty is to teach how to think mythically—or I would say, mytho-historically. Our job is to see what the mythic perspective can add to the fundamental understanding of an event or experience.
So far I really haven’t seen any serious attempts at doing this. That is why I turned to Diotima who can still teach us how to think mythically about Love and its paradoxical nature. For Love is not a purely spiritual entity; neither is it purely mundane commonplace. The dialectical essence of Eros permeates both higher and lower worlds.

Holding on to the paradox of Love, tarrying with its negativity, can teach us a lot about how to think mythically. Diotima begins her lesson by telling us not to confuse Love with a purely “spiritual” or metaphysical agent, and neither reduce it to a purely mundane force. Diotima challenges the all-to-easy dichotomy between the spiritual and the mundane and begins to unveil a third option, in strict dialectical fashion. Diotima thus puts into a motion a kind of dialectical movement which follows a logic of its own. Enduring this process, both categories of the “spiritual” and the “mundane” are rendered false in their isolation and alienation from each other; they become pale abstractions, modes of false consciousness, in the libidinal investment of a juicy ideological fantasy.

The belief that there can be a purely “human” world, without the contamination of the “divine,” therefore, is itself one of these ideological falsefications. This splitting of the opposites continues to be my litmus test for ideology and ideologues. You only have to observe how comfortable they feel when hung on the cross of the “tension of opposites,” where they must tarry with the absolute negativity of the unconscious, and not succumb to a hard dividing line between worlds or modes of explanation. The rigidity of this divide tells you all you need to know in a given case. Didn’t Brad Olson recently write a mythblast on “Blurring Boundaries”?

In view of this general lack of dialectical imagination, I thought an exploration of the Symposium could get us closer to the goal of an authentic mythic consciousness of Love in our midsts.

What do you think?