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Question regarding dyad

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    I am researching the concept of the mythical “dyad.” Writer Chris Terrio said he used Joseph Campbell’s concept of the dyad to describe the connection between Rey and Ben Solo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. One mutual found the quote cited regarding the dyad in A Hero’s Journey, but we have been unable to find any other instances.


    “…marriage, because it does amount to and require a yielding and the yielding has to be total to now being a member of a dyad and acting in relation to that twoness.”


    Does anyone have any more information?


    Thank you


    A fascinating topic, emrysmcsabre.

    Though you know this already, thought I’d provide a little context for forum participants. Chris Terrio, who co-wrote The Rise of Skywalker with J.J. Abrams, has this to say about about that connection between Rey and Ben Solo:

    Right from Episode VII, from the scene in which Rey is interrogated by Kylo Ren, it was clear that they have a connection, that they can understand each other, that they can literally read each other’s minds. They’re made uncomfortable by it and yet they’re both drawn to each other. What we wanted to do was complicate that and say actually their connection is deeper than that. we began talking about them as a mythic concept, which is in Joseph Campbell, which is the mythic dyad–that they’re two parts of the same whole.”

    The full passage from The Hero’s Journey, when Bob Cockrell asks Joseph Campbell about marriage as a mythic event, sheds light on Terrio’s conception of Rey and Ben Solo:

    CAMPBELL: My notion of marriage is that if marriage isn’t a first priority in your life you’re not married. It’s an extremely important decision, that of marriage, because it does amount to and require a yielding and the yielding has to be total to now being a member of a dyad and acting in relation to that twoness. As I’ve said to people who are worried about it, when you make what you call a sacrifice to the other person, that’s not what you’re sacrificing to. You’re sacrificing to the relationship. The relationship is the sacrificial field, where both of you are relating to the relationship and then you are, as it were, two together. Really like that yin-yang thing. (If you hang on to being the yin, or hang on to being the yang in this thing, as a separate unit, you don’t have a marriage.) Then everything in your life from then on relates to that relationship. And when judgments of actions and decisions at various times have to be taken in that sense, then you’re married.

    The marriage has two stages. The first is what might be called the biological marriage—it yields the family. But then there comes what I would call the mystical marriage, or the alchemical marriage. . . . “

    Joseph Campbell doesn’t use the term “dyad” much at all – in fact, I’ve only found one other instance in print – but he touches on the concept quite often, especially in the discussion of opposites coming together to form one whole (yin/yang, or the Hindu deity Shiva and his consort Shakti), and of specific couples (such as Krishna & Radha – though Krishna through multiple divine emanations is able to simultaneously make love to 10,000 Gopi cowherdesses, it is Radha who completes him).

    In Mythic Worlds, Modern Words (a collection of Campbell’s writings on James Joyce), commenting on a reference in Joyce’s Ulysses to “Shakti Shiva” (written as if the name of a single unified being), he observes:

    Śiva, joined to his Śakti, is the lord of that left-hand path. Śiva is the lord of eternal life, and as he lies prostrate, the goddess with her hands representing the life and the death principle is standing on him. She is, as it were, an emanation of his dream: the woman is the emanation of the man’s image of his universe. His fulfillment consists in comprehending her and enlivening her. The female is the other half, you might say, of the deity. This is the mysticism of the dyad, male-female as one. In Stephen’s case, the part of Śiva is to be played by Bloom, whose consort, Molly, is the Śakti of the book. Moreover, Bloom in his Tiresian fantasy was Śakti-Śiva, male and female combined.

    Further: Śiva is the god worshiped throughout India in the form of a stylized male organ (the liṇgam), which is generally represented as though emerging from beneath the earth to penetrate a stylized female organ (the yoni) symbolic of the cosmic mother-goddess within whose womb (space-time: the Kantian “a priori forms of sensibility”) all creatures dwell.

    However, though Campbell discusses this in terms of marriage, or, in the above instance, the relationship between Śiva and Śakti, this connection between male and female is symbolic of the deeper nature of the universe. To fully grasp that, it helps to step away from the romantic/erotic projections that accompany these images (indeed, apart from one kiss in an intense moment, one can’t definitively characterize the bond between Kylo Ren and Rey as a romance).

    Which brings us back to Lucas’ concept of the Force as consisting of both a light and a dark side – which owes much to Campbell’s discussion of yin and yang:

    “Behind this art lies a philosophy that is native to the Far East. This is the philosophy expressed in Chinese Taoism. Tao means, as we know, ‘the Way.’ This is the way of nature. The way of nature is the way in which dark and light interplay. There are two principles that combine in various modulations to constitute the world and its way, and these principles respectively are the yang and the yin. These words are sometimes translated as the male and female principles, respectively, but that is not their primary meaning. Yang and yin in their origin refer to the sunny and shady side of a stream; the yang is the sunny side, and the yin is the shady side. What is the situation on the sunny side? It is light, it is hot, and the heat of the Sun is dry. In the shade, on the other side, you have the Earth; it is cold without the Sun on it, and it is moist within. Moist, cold, and dark, and hot, dry, and light play in counteraction. Earth and Sun are associated respectively with the feminine and masculine principles and with the passive and the active principles. This is a very profound symbol.

    There is no moral imperative here; this is not the battle of the sons of light and the sons of darkness that underlies Zoroastrianism and the biblical traditions. Light is not better or stronger than dark, nor is dark better or stronger than light. They are simply the two balanced principles on which the world rests: the light and the dark.

    As I look out my window, I see light and dark, light and dark; wherever we look that is what we see. An artist can take a brush and put black on white and bring forth all of the inflections of the natural world. By using light and dark, he depicts the forms, which in their very essence are composed of light and dark. This is a wonderful thing. The outer form of light and dark is a manifestation of what is within. So the artist with his brush is manipulating the very principles that underlie the whole of nature, and the artwork brings out, as it were, the very essence of the world itself and that essence is the interplay of these two in many modulations. The delight of seeing this interplay is the delight of the man who does not wish to break through the walls of the universe but wishes to stay in the world playing with the song and inflection of this great duad, yang and yin.” (Myths of Light 84)

    Note, by the way, the term duad, which seems congruent with Campbell’s usage of dyad, that pops up elsewhere in his writings when discussing such dualities. For example, two other passages from Mythic Worlds, Modern Words, this time discussing Joyce’s final work, the myth-fueled fever dream that is Finnegans Wake:

    The great archetypal duad in the Wake is father/mother: Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE) and Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP).” (p. 195)

    “Various forms of such dual relationship appear throughout the book, but as we’ve noted, the archetypal duad is HCE and ALP, father and mother, Father Ocean and his river goddess, Viṣṇu and his all-embracing consort, the dreamer and his dream. Here again, we remember that Ramakrishna said at one time, ‘Brahmā (the Creator) is brahman (the infinite) in its quiescent state, and Māyā is brahman in movement.’ He is the still state, and she is māyā, the active movement that brings about all of our involvement in the delusions in the world, and both are aspects of the same being.” (218)

    I don’t know if any of the above is helpful to you, emrysmcsabre, but may shed some light on the source of this concept.

    From my perspective as an audience member, the unfolding of the bond between Rey and Kylo Ren struck me as an amplification of and expansion on the bond between Luke and his father (one doesn’t just defeat the Dark Side and then everything is all Happy Happy Joy Joy – rather, the Force consists of both, in balance).

    I’m also intrigued that a few of my friends who aren’t into Star Wars, but do happen to be mothers of children who are, were fascinated by the intensity of the connection between Rey and Ben, which for them helped elevate the final two films beyond just swords-and-sorcery-in-outer-space.

    I’ll give Chris Terrio the final word:

    That was a great gift of ‘The Last Jedi,’ in that their relationship seems very intimate and specific. There’s a way in which, in ‘The Last Jedi,’ Rey and Kylo Ren interact, and they just seem like they’re part of the same whole, that spiritually, they’re really one person. That really helped us in thinking about Rey and Kylo Ren, which is to say that we wanted to elaborate on the idea that Snoke bridged their minds in ‘The Last Jedi.’ But what we wanted to say is that there’s something deeper there, and leave it to debate about at which point they became this dyad in the Force, where they were really two, or were they one, whether that was a mistake that Palpatine made by bridging them and therefore creating this thing. But regardless, their relationship is extremely interesting and complicated, and it was one of the things that J.J. and I loved about ‘The Last Jedi’ that we luckily inherited and could build.”


    FYI – we are pruning the forum categories in Conversations of a Higher Order, which includes closing down and deleting the Campbell in Culture forum. Since this question relates to Joseph Campbell’s published work, we have moved it into The Works of Joseph Campbell forum. You should be able to find it by following the link.


    I have been writing about Rey’s and Ben’s connection for many years now. Many like me (Reylos we are called) saw the yin yang relationship, and we believed that their connection and unification could heal the Skywalker family as well as balance the Force. I hope LF does continue to develop the dyad in more materials.


    Thank you so much for your response and explanations. I so appreciate the work and thought you took to answer my inquiry.


    May the Force Be With You!



    I am glad to hear there are “Reylos.” I have never quite grokked the animus some very vociferous fans have expressed toward Rey, starting with The Force Awakens.

    Even the early criticism that Rey was just a “Mary Sue” (someone who almost immediately becomes an adept at something one has just learned – like dueling with light sabers, or wielding the Force) could just as easily be applied to Luke Skywalker (who has about two minutes training from Obi Wan Kenobi in the Force and fighting with a light saber on the way to Alderon, and has never piloted any craft off-planet before – yet after two flight-simulator sessions and 30 seconds of instruction is an expert pilot who uses the Force to blow up the Death Star).

    I suspect the unspoken source of much of the criticism can be credited to either discomfort with a female hero on the part of some, and/or resentment that Luke is not the hero of the final trilogy. Of course, a movie series that clings to an aging hero becomes both sad, and unbelievable (e.g. Indiana Jones in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – which may not bode well for the next film in that franchise).

    Speaking just from my own perspective, that resonance between Rey and Ben Solo is the most interesting and novel element of the concluding trilogy; I am so pleased to know Reylos are pondering their relationship and what it reveals about the Force.

    May the Force Be With You, too!

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