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Reply To: The Boundary-Blurring Nature of Myth,” with Bradley Olson, Ph.D.”


I love this.


And this: Myth, because it exists and functions between opposites, becomes an important point of entry, not just to imagination and the unconscious, but to the discovery of the capacity and potential of the human being. But mythology can assume this function only if we cease to understand myth as a relic, as a curiosity, a just so story, a religion, or any other clearly defined, bounded concept; to the contrary, it moves in and through and around life, disclosing that Will ‘O the Wisp quality of the vital spark, the élan vital. Mythology is not merely a museum-like repository of normative or once-orthodox narratives. Mythology is the final destination of singular thought and experience; the sublimely confounding creations that cannot be repeated, and which are diminished by attempts at replication. That’s why when we read myth, it matters little from where the myths come nor their historical context, we never fail to be moved by them.

Ah, the “elan vital!” The “liveness,” of myth!
That conjures in my mind that myth is or could be “timeless,” “ageless.”
And THAT blurs all those boundaries. Behind the veil of the literal formation of myths and stories (through time and place/space) rests something else…another energy at play?
Speaking of boundaries and nature, if you forgive my purple moment Bradley…I heard a reference to Nature as “boundless.”

I find this very interesting also in reference and comparison to the “bounded hermetic life,” which cannot always escape encroachment of the messy every day world.
Yet in reflection Nature is also perfectly capable of encroaching right back on that messy everyday world.
Weeds and ivy and even flowers overtake abandoned buildings.
Grass and flowers persistently push up through sidewalk cracks.
Maybe the perspective is different for each person whether one goes to nature as an escape into an ordered enclosed retreat? Or to experience the expanse…the horizon? Which is more bounded nature or the chaotic human world? Or does nature blur those boundaries as you say.

There is an interesting essay written by the illustrator John Howe about boundaries and edges in Nature…though his words seem to work on a separation “nature everything we are not…”

But something has changed in humans…because in modern times “we talk about nature,” instead of “to Nature.”  But in that line right there he blurs the boundaries!

I really find your last paragraph very poignant and moving…it’s as though you have taken myth out from under the microscope counting dust particles and it can “breathe again.”
If myth is Boundless and transcendent…then why…do we…?
Joe Campbell’s take on the modern world and the need for the inner myth and journey is in many ways heart wrenching as well as inspiring…

How does one go OUT to go IN in a world, which constantly emphasizes boundaries? And gates?And yes, I certainly understand necessity!

But it’s not easy!

One certainly  feels for people of all ages who live in this complex and sometimes confusing and confounding  world!

So Joe had the pulse of that, especially when so many “outer journeys,” are limited  to “vicarious,” or “audience participation.” Then the INNER journey MUST call. For the sake of the Soul or Higher Self. And the Greater Universal Connection.

I only brought up John Howe, because Stephen mentioned Ricketts and that blurring of boundaries…I think it keeps the wonder in it.At least that’s how I remember my Mother introducing the world to me,   and teaching me…through the lens of wonder.
There are several thought provoking responses from everybody! James, Juan.
I think Juan is right about giving things a different perspective…changing from separation to boundaries and then noting that blurring…it changes the whole energy…and that would be very interesting to see.
Well I’ve wandered on here.
Loved this essay Bradley!