Welcome to our MythBlasts discussion forum John; what a great set of insights of your personal experiences on Joseph’s work. I particularly enjoyed how you infused your own life with his themes while visiting his grave. It’s Memorial Day today, how fitting when we think not just about commemorating the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the service of others; but in a larger sense reflecting about the ideas and values we live our lives for. I googled one definition for the word: “memory” and found this brief description which I think fits quite well for what I’m attempting to get at.
“The term Mnemosyne is derived from the same source as the word mnemonic, that being the Greek word mnēmē, which means “remembrance, memory”. Mnemosyne. Goddess of memory and meaning.”
And a term often referred to when describing a symbol of some sort that recalls an important memory or experience is called a: “mnemonic trigger” and indeed these devices are often used in storytelling to illustrate the larger context of something one is referring to within a plot or storyline. And throughout human history cemeteries are often the places where people go to commune with the spiritual relationship of a loved one who has passed and their family as well. They are not just repositories for the dead but places of reverence that remind us of the impermanence of our existence and the meaning of our lives. We are evoked into a larger dialogue within ourselves to contemplate the larger values of human relationships like you referred to with Joseph’s overlying themes of: “to love and be loved” for in the end what else is there left that really matters.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the series “MASH”; which I believe you were one of the writers; was the way chaos and human relationships were distilled through trauma into a final outcome where higher human values were exemplified and whatever temporary dilemmas that had been endured were resolved. Each character had their own crisis against the backdrop of the horror of man’s inhumanity of war; yet throughout each episode the viewer was left with something that resonated in some way with their own life experience for them to contemplate.
Sidney Freedman, (the mental health professional who usually paid a visit when someone was having an emotional crisis of some sort); was one of my favorites because he would sometimes write journal entries to his imaginary friend “Sigmund Freud” about his observations during his encounters and as a way to make sense out of his own experiences of war. Although the example here I believe was written by Alan Alda the viewer is provided a window into what it must be like to fight off the overwhelming depressive elements of war and still maintain one’s own sanity. (It must have been a truly rewarding experience to work on this television series which many believe was one of the most important ever made.)
I think now more than ever Joseph’s work has provided profound tools of insight for how individuals can make sense out of their life and find meaning at a time when much of the world seems to be coming off its’ railings. With situations like Covid, Ukraine, the recent inability of political leaders to come to agreement on legislation for the greater good like with gun control, and the rising toxic animosity on social media, he has a way of connecting the dots to many of the issues that have often confounded scholars for centuries; and I, like you, have found him indispensable in keeping myself sane when dealing with many of the problems that often trip us up or hold us hostage until we can work our way through them. His insights into Carl Jung are particularly revealing in this way for religion has a way of concretizing a symbol and attempting to turn it into a “thou-shalt” system of rules that distort instead of reveal, like with science; like producing a wall instead of opening a door or a window; which is what “art” is supposed to do.
In today’s modern complex societies where world cultures so often collide the ability to find one’s path can no longer rely on outdated ways of interpreting things, and we need help in connecting concepts to make sense of where the lines are so often blurred, and we become lost and confused about what to do to unravel the Gordeian Knots of our confusion. Joseph provides clues on how the modern individual can navigate these Dark Forests and find the meaning of our Holy Grail for ourselves.
Here is a perfect example where Joseph masterfully takes a difficult concept like Daoism of the East and combines it with the Left-Hand Hero path of the Greek dualistic West with the Chinese Wu-Wei of not-forcing.
Again John, a hearty and warm welcome here and I am very much looking forward to hearing more your stories and insights.