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The Blooming of Truth: Campbell on the Mythic Past, with Norland Tellez, Ph.D.

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  • #74335

    Welcome to our discussion with writer, director, artist, teacher, and mythologist Norland Téllez, our guest this week in Conversations of a Higher Order, to discuss “The Blooming of Truth: Campbell on the Mythic Past,” his latest entry in JCF’s MythBlast series (click on title to read Dr. Têllez’ thought-provoking essay).

    I will get the conversation started, but it’s your participation that counts: please feel free to join the discussion and engage Dr. Tellez directly with your observations and questions.

    So let’s begin.

    Norland, you write

    Although we tend to think of the Campbellian enterprise of Mythological Studies as providing honey-sweet ‘positive’ content for our lives, passages like the ones above tell a slightly different story, more critical of the positivity of mythic ideology.”

    This is one of the reasons why I look forward to your essays. I’m as drawn to the precious gems mythology offers us as anyone, but know that a polyannish, “Happy Happy Joy Joy” perspective ignores what lies beneath the surface. Your writings stretch beyond that one-sided superficial perspective, reminding us that there would be no sweet, fragrant, brightly-colored blossoms without the buried roots that reach down and draw sustenance from the decaying, worm- and grub-infested humus hidden from the light.

    There is so much to explore in your essay, but I’d like to start with something that’s not clear to me. It’s not my intention to seem to be challenging your premise (far from it – this is an important piece that speaks not just to the past, but to where we find ourselves today). That said, I have to confess I’m not sure from the context what you mean when you use the phrase “personal mythology” – though it does seem you have little use for the concept, associating the term with the “honey-sweet ‘positive'” perspective noted above.

    It almost sounds as if you are saying “personal mythology” is something one consciously “adopts,” and that it is blindly optimistic – two characterizations very much at odds with both Campbell and Jung, not to mention my own experience and understanding.

    Briefly recapping for those who don’t know the story that served as the genesis of the concept of “personal mythology,” Jung first noticed mythological imagery welling up from the unconscious of patients at Zurich’s Burghölzi Clinic suffering from neurosis or psychosis; he then discovered the same happens with relatively well-adjusted individuals, often unconsciously driving behavior – observations which led to his writing Symbols of Transformation (Volume V of Jung’s Collected Works), the volume that precipitated his break with Freud and set the tone and direction of Jung’s subsequent career.

    In Campbell’s discussion of personal myth, he describes what happened next:

    When Jung finished this book, it did not mark the end of his insights on the topic. ‘Hardly had I finished the manuscript,’ he says in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “when it struck me what it means to live with a myth, and what it means to live without one. . . .” It occurred to him to ask himself by what myth he himself was living, and he realized he did not know. ‘So, in the most natural way, I took it upon myself to get to know my myth, and this I regarded as my task of tasks.'”

    Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss (86)

    Jung is not here consciously choosing and adopting a myth, but attempting to come to know the mythological dynamics unconsciously driving his behavior.

    That motivation provides the basis for the Campbellian concept of personal mythology.

    Campbell observes there is no mythology anymore that everyone in contemporary society knows as a given, governing our lives in the same way as past cultures with an active, living mythology. It’s true that many today still consciously embrace and are guided by the myths of an inherited religious tradition, but there are just as many  or more who live outside a religious tradition – and even among those who do go to church and believe the Bible, often “those symbols aren’t speaking to them. The driving power is coming from somewhere else” (Pathways to Bliss, 88).

    Finding one’s personal myth, in Campbell’s formulation, isn’t about selecting and adopting a myth one likes, but rather making the unconscious conscious:

    When Jung said he wanted to find out what the myth was by which he was living, what he wanted to find out was what that unconscious or subliminal thing was that was making him do these peculiar, irrational things and giving him problems that his consciousness then had to resolve. So let us say now that it’s with the awakening of awareness . . . that our subject begins” (Pathways to Bliss 90)

    Joseph Campbell’s advocacy of seeking one’s personal myth, as inspired by Jung, seems very much aligned with your advocacy of discovering the

    painful truth that speaks at the place where psyche must enter the flesh. For there is the existential rub, the irrepressible edge of the symptom, where the unconscious mind forces itself upon the conscious ego and breaks down all its defense mechanisms.”

    Uncovering my own personal myth – exploring the unconscious mythological dynamics at play in my own life, as encouraged by Campbell and Jung – has proven both painful and rewarding. Delving into the dark, coming to recognize, know, and integrate  aspects of my personal shadow – an ongoing, lifelong process – hardly provides “honey-sweet positive content” in my life, though it is enriching and life-sustaining.

    Why, in Campbell’s mind, is this is so important?

    One final excerpt:

    You might ask yourself this question: if I were confronted with a situation of total disaster, if everything I loved and thought I lived for were devastated, what would I live for? If I were to come home, find my family murdered, my house burned up, or all my career wiped out by some disaster or another, what would sustain me? We read about these things every day, and we think, Well, that only happens to other people. But what if it happened to me? What would lead me to know that I could go on living and not just crack up and quit?

    I’ve known religious people who have had such experiences. They would say, ‘It is God’s will.’ For them, faith would work.

    Now, what do you have in your life that would play this role for you? What is the great thing for which you would sacrifice your life? What makes you do what you do; what is the call of your life to you—do you know it? The old traditions provided this mythic support for people; it held whole culture worlds together. Every great civilization has grown out of a mythic base.

    In our day, however, there is great confusion. We’re thrown back on ourselves, and we have to find that thing which, in truth, works for us as individuals.” (Pathways to Bliss, 88)

    We may not be as far apart as my question suggests.  I suspect that your objection isn’t to Campbell’s conceptualization of personal myth, but rather to popular misconceptions from those with only a cursory knowledge of the mythologist’s work (akin to those who understand the advice to “follow your bliss” as either advocating some sort of vaporous wishcraft – hazy, lazy positive thinking carried to an extreme – or irresponsible pursuit of hedonistic pleasure as the highest good .  . .  either of which would be anathema to Campbell). If that’s the case, we’re pretty much on the same page.

    It’s not my intention to focus on picking at a loose end – your paper is about so much more. I do believe it’s essential, though, to observe the original understanding of the man who introduced the concept of personal mythology, rather than inadvertently appear to abandon the phrase to those well-intended but mistaken light warriors to define who skim the surface and miss out on the depths.

    I do notice an intriguing, unexpected correspondence. In much the same way that Jung did not know the myth by which he was living, so too it seems there is no active, living mythology universal to contemporary culture. Jung resolved his question by acknowledging and going into some very dark spaces in his psyche, a long and disturbing process – which brings me to your observation: “What is true of the individual is also true of entire nations and their mythic pasts.”

    Becoming aware of and acknowledging those painful truths, we have the opportunity to, as you describe, eliminate “repressive elements that block the spontaneous outpouring of mytho-historic truth.” Indeed, this seems what this moment in time demands of us, when we can no longer deny the widespread racism that riddles society here in the United States, or a harsh, edgy, defiant magical thinking that trumps fact and science.

    Could you speak a little more to what exactly you mean by “mytho-historic”? This really strikes a chord for me, but I would love to hear more. How would you say “mytho-historic truth” differs from either myth or history?

    Thanks for bearing with me, Norland.

    #74347

    This loss of a binding national mythology is both good and bad. Certainly in relationship to a national one that has left out so many groups- native Americans, African Americans, women, etc. However, I also think it has produced a loneliness that is crippling and at times dangerous. It is the existential crisis of our time and witnessed this past week with so many mass shootings. And in relationship to the personal, the pandemic has forced us to really look inward-I find myself dreaming more about my life up to this point and as Stephen mentions-it is painful to do so. The questioning is the most difficult part -the recognition that what we thought we knew about ourselves is challenged just in the consideration of that herethereto “truth” of self. We are much more or less that we thought we knew. The life we had prior to the pandemic kept this realization at bay because we simply did not have the time to think about self. I think about Campbell’s heroic journey cycle and I am at the point of “the dark night of the soul”, trying to find a way to that transformation. What helps is knowing that it is possible because the myths have told us so.

    There are insights in myth that can help us-we need to find them-to read them-hear them- talk about them. Stephen and Norland, what myths do you find helpful in speaking about what we are witnessing in these days?  Where shall we begin?

     

    #74346

    OMG Stephen, you ask wonderful questions and you should never feel apologetic about challenging some of my assumptions. These are myth BLASTS! after all and if they’re not “blowing us away” into the mythological dimension—where mythos and logos meet (analogous to the meeting of myth and history in the modes of mytho-historic consciousness—then we are not doing our job. But its crucial that we come to recognize this intimate relation of mythos and logos which comes out in the full term “mythology” and Mythological Studies. Likewise, I suggest we must recognize the intimate dialectical relationship that exists between myth and history.

    As you see I am fond of terms that bring together the play opposites in the same notion. Freud famously wrote about the “emotional ambivalence” that characterizes all primordial words, that is, mythic terms used to describe the archetypal origins of humankind.

    My argument against “personal mythology” is as you say an argument against positivistic ideology but it is also more than that. It touches on the very definition of mythology as a vehicle of truth, or in the term used by Giambattista Vico in his New Science: vera narratio or “true story,” which once again is tied to the concept of mytho-history. All of these concepts became clear to me during the research for my dissertation on the Popol Vuh, where I first learned of the notion of mytho-history in Raphael Girard’s book Esotericism of the Popol Vuh:

    We, in fact, are dealing with a unified history that embraces in continuous succession the whole historical-cultural process: history written in terms of mythological thought, which is historical for these people. (Esotericism of the Popol Vuh 5).

    In the same way, Alfonzo Rodríguez makes this same observation concerning the mythistoric character of all ancient mythology, namely, that “to try to separate the mythic from the historical elements would be a very risky and difficult task, since it is the nature of ancient myths to tear down the boundaries that separate one thing from the other and to fuse them both into a single thing’ (Estructura Mítica del Popol Vuh 34).

    Likewise, one of the most prominent translators of the Popol-Vuh, Dennis Tedlock, is forced to make the same point when addressing lay audiences in the introduction of his Popol-Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life:

    We tend to think of myth and history as being in conflict with each other, but the authors of the inscriptions at Palenque and the alphabetic text of the Popol Vuh treated the mythic and historical parts of their narratives as belonging to a single, balanced whole. (58-59)

    To this day the Quiche Maya think of dualities in general as complementary rather than opposed, interpenetrating rather than mutually exclusive. Instead of being in logical opposition to one another, the realms of divine and human actions are joined by a mutual attraction. If we had an English word that fully expressed the Mayan sense of narrative time, it would have to embrace the duality of the divine and the human in the same way the Quiche term kajulew or “sky-earth” preserves the duality of what we call the “world.” In fact we already have a word that comes close to doing the job: mythistory, taken into English from Greek by way of Latin. For the ancient Greeks, who set about driving a wedge between the divine and the human, this term became a negative one, designating narratives that should have been properly historical but contained mythic impurities. For Mayans, the presence of a divine dimension in narratives of human affairs is not an imperfection but a necessity, and it is balanced by a necessary human dimension in narratives of divine affairs. At one end of the Popol Vuh the gods are preoccupied with the difficult task of making humans, and at the other humans are preoccupied with the equally difficult task of finding the traces of divine movements in their own deeds. (59)

    Now with this concept in mind, one I think that resonates with what you were alluding to with respect to Jung and Campbell, let’s turn back to the debate on “personal mythology” and why I think it is a bad term and a misnomer for the true opening up of the mythic dimension as mytho-historic consciousness. In this latter enterprise one works to bring opposites together, fundamentally, the opposition of conscious and unconscious, the personal with the collective, etc.

    I think that having highlighted the ambivalence of true mythology, you might have an inkling of what I am going to say about the term “personal mythology”—which Jung himself never used for reasons that will become obvious in a moment.

    To begin with: notice how one-sided the term “personal mythology” is, leaving out its own shadow from the equation of mythic consciousness. This opposite of personal mythology if it’s mentioned at all is only mentioned pejoratively, as some kind of mass-mindedness detrimental to the individuation process. Although Jung was himself guilty of this, if we remain strictly within the Jungian view, where he attempted to draw a line between the “personal” vs “the collective unconscious,” we can see why “personal mythology” would not be picked up by Jung himself as a synonym for the individuation process. Instead, Jung spoke of it as the “symbolic life” where the term “symbol” specifically refers to the archetypal connection of psychic contents to the collective unconscious.

    What the term “personal mythology” suggests is a kind privatization of the collective unconscious rather than the opening up to it. That is why, I use it as a synonym for ideology. It fits too perfectly the distinction Jung made between the “personal” and the “collective” unconscious. For it is not that the “personal” or subjective psyche is any less “collective” than the objective psyche of archetypal forces—ideology is a collective phenomenon per excellence!—but that in the narrow spheres of the “personal” psyche we have lost the primordial link to mytho-historic truth. The “personal” stands for a mode of “false consciousness.” For truth is a collective phenomenon by definition; the notion of a “private truth” is self-evidently a lie, a delusion akin to the idea of “alternative facts.” A “private truth” is nothing other than a creed, a belief system or an ideology. That is why, the way I put it in my little essay, “personal mythology” stood for the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves individually, as it were, unmoored from the objective reality of the collective unconscious. The feeling of not being able to hang on to religious traditions or other cultural norms does not save us from being immersed in the sea of the collective unconscious. On the contrary, we are too readily delivered into it, unhinged from any guide post, where many mariners have been abandoned in the wreckage that often accompanies such venture into pathless seas.

    We should always remember Heraclitus of old when speaking of the logos of mythology plainly as a phenomenon of the collective psyche:

    “Therefore it is necessary to follow the common; but although the Logos [λόγος] is common the many live as though they had a private understanding.” (Kirk and Raven 188 fr. 198).

    It is this “private understanding”—characterized as a phenomenon of “the many”— that deserves the name of “personal mythology.” Since, by definition, mythology is the language of the collective unconscious, or what is common to all, a “personal mythology” stands implicitly as an ideology set against the truth that is common to all. Despite the fact that “men,” as Heraclitus, explains: “are like people of no experience,” who “fail to notice what they do after they wake up just as they forget what they do when asleep.” (Kirk and Raven 187 fr. 197), true myth is precisely an integration of the individual into the real forces of the collective mind or “objective spirit.”

    In this Heraclitean sense, emphasizing both what we do awake and asleep, a private myth would become an obstacle for authentic self-flourishing; it is the opposite of the opening up of mytho-historic consciousness and its painful collective truths. That is the usefulness of the term personal mythology in my vocabulary for, as Heraclitus also put it:

    “They would not know the name of Right, if these things (i.e. the opposite) did not exist. (Kathleen Freeman, Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers page 26 fr. 30)

    For wisdom cannot be divorced from truth; authentic wisdom must be distinguished from lies. The old sage was finally right to put forward once again the notion of the true (λόγος) in dialectical motion:

    “The wise thing is one thing, to be acquainted with true judgement, how all things are steered through all.” (Kirk and Raven 204 fr. 230)

    #74345

    Thank you Johanna, I love your questions as well which could inspire whole tomes and disquisitions in this exciting field of mythological studies. As we know, these are complicated questions which admit of no easy answers.

    You are quite right that the “loss of myth” often bemoaned by conservatives is actually a boom when viewed from the progressive side, as this ‘absence of a Master (Signifier)’ is always the precursor of a revolution of the collective spirit which is brewing inside. It is, as you say, a kind of “dark night” of the collective soul in which our little individual life-boat finds itself: in the midst of pandemic, mass shootings, militarism, and ecological disaster already breaking down the walls of our collective (social and ideological) defense mechanisms.

    As to your question about which myths might help us navigate through this crisis, you will not be surprised to hear from me advocacy for the Popol Vuh as what I call The Wisdom of the Peoples, which comes fully equipped with a kind of primordial critique of capitalistic hyper-individualism. At the same time, it is the story of the creation of a New Dawn of consciousness such as the one we find ourselves in but without any guarantees. And it does involve a profound descensus ad inferos to face the Lords of Death, the Underworld Masters of Xibalba, engaging in mortal competition through a “Ballgame of the Sacrifices” which ultimately decides the fate of the cosmos. I highly recommend it!

    #74344

    Hey Norland and the rest,

    I am just gonna go with the flow.

    I see this problem of “personal mythology” in contemporary cinema a lot. That is of an ideology trying to pass as mythology or something archetypal. Trying to sneak feminist messages or racial sensitivities. It just doesn’t work. Which is why I believe the latest Star Wars was a flop. I honestly couldn’t finish the last episodes. It is one thing to fight for equality and against racism and it is another to try to force it into a mythology.

    So in the same way I think myth and history should never be confused. How this is done is another question. The Maya example you give is a nice example of a time this used to work. This idea of myth and history coexisting is a primitive idea when the conscious and the unconscious was one and the same. Kind of hard for me to see Christ as both historical and mythological. A pretty raw and straight forward example but maybe it is more complicated. Nonetheless, it is good to have this awareness of the distinction and of the unity of myth and history.

    You say:

    As with the psychotherapy of the individual so it is with entire nations; the problem is not so much the “creation of a new myth” but the elimination of repressive elements that block the spontaneous outpouring of mytho-historic truth.

    This got my attention if you wanna talk more how to eliminate those repressive elements.

    Kudos for the essay. Subtle.

    #74343

    Hi Drewie,

    I totally agree about the way in which neo-liberal ideology—with its politically-correct “multi-cultural” pseudo-feminist virtue signaling—has not only ruined cinema but the whole culture at large. I am totally in sympathy with what you say regarding the last Star Wars films which I forced myself to watch simply as a spectacular opportunity for the pleasure of dismantling propaganda in my head as I watch it. This is always a great refuge available to us when we bring critical mindfulness to the movies: if the movie sucks you can always enjoy your mental process of dismantling it, especially when this psychic activity is aimed at the unconcealment of a mytho-historic truth the film does not want you to see.

    As to the repressive mechanisms that stand in the way of this unconcealment, ideology is first and foremost. Ideology is symbolized at one level by the order of the Father, the force of tradition and social norms, in which we initially find ourselves. But the Call to Adventure bids us leave the comfort zone of our cherished beliefs and habitual assumptions by opening ourselves up to (an often painful) truth of archetypal proportions. Just think of The Lord of the Rings and the way the possession of the One Ring pointed to the painful truth of the existence of Evil within symbolized by Sauron. As we all know, this adventure takes Frodo in one-way ticket out of the Shire, the homeland of our national ideological identity, in an adventure that begins by confronting the evil that lies within the possession of the One Ring of Ideology.

     

    Now, this adventure is possible the minute we allow an existential sense of historicity to enter the picture. You are right that mythistory worked well for the ancients but for us it is important to separate history from myth in the conventional sense of distinguishing the true from the false. But true historiography is so much more than a compilation of individual historical facts and contingencies. Such a tabulation of historical data would be meaningless on its own. There is an order in it and this order is supplied by mythic patterns and structures that remain somehow constant and changing at the same time across the centuries. That is why the best book I can recommend on the subject of mytho-history is Joseph Mali’s book Mythistory which is subtitled The Making of Modern Historiography. For in it he shows how much modern historiography is already sustained by mythic patterns.

    Mali Mythistory Book Cover

    You see, the mythic element of historiography comes to the foreground in the MAKING process, through the necessity of having to introduce a narrative thread to bind all the facts and details into a meaningful temporal succession. It is here that Mali cites Nietzsche among others in order to put forth a specific modern conception of historiography as based on the dialectical pattern Mali calls “the recognition of myth”:

     

    “It becomes impossible to overcome history in the name of life or to forget the past in the name of modernity, because both are linked by a temporal chain that gives them a common destiny.”

    —Nietzsche

     

    I’ll end with Mali’s own words on what he understands by this project of modern historiography:

    Following on this astute conception of the modern, I redefine mythistory accordingly. My main argument is that this classic-romantic historiagraphical tradition initiated a certain movement in modern historiography that is modern historiography in the original and full sense of the term. As proponents of the “modern,” from Baudelaire (who first gave the term its current connotations) through Nietzsche (who first defined thereby a new kind of historiography) to all their many followers, have claimed in their artistic and theoretical works, the “modern” consists in the recognition of myth as the primal “order” in human life and history. (11)

    #74342

    Awesome.

    In my first post I said “Myth and History should never be confused”. Well never say never.

    I see now much better after further explaining it to me. Your example of Lord of the Rings really helped clear some of the confusion I had in mind. It does bring an extra layer of understanding to the game. Never thought of the shire as the homeland of our national ideological identity. I am very used reading these symbols mythologically so for me the shire always meant what also other myths depict at the beginning of the story – an unconscious state of mind where the ego is beginning to emerge. Yeah, actually LotR is a good example of how history is connected with the mythological considering the experiences Tolkien had with war and how these became the inspiration for his epic story. Interesting. Am I understanding it right?

    Whatever the case, I’ll definitely read more about this subject which seems very rich in information. Thanks.

     

     

    #74341

    Norland,

    Between our first overnight visitors in a year earlier in the week, followed by an intense four hour dental ordeal, and unanticipated, related health issues, I am way behind on this conversation. I especially appreciate your explanation of myth-history, and particularly this nugget:

    You see, the mythic element of historiography comes to the foreground in the MAKING process, through the necessity of having to introduce a narrative thread to bind all the facts and details into a meaningful temporal succession.

    The Joseph Mali work is clearly a must-have. I do hope you get commission on all the books you’ve recommended that I end up purchasing . . .
    🙂

    #74340

    Drewie,

    You write:

    Never thought of the shire as the homeland of our national ideological identity. I am very used reading these symbols mythologically so for me the shire always meant what also other myths depict at the beginning of the story – an unconscious state of mind where the ego is beginning to emerge.”

    That’s the advantage of a mythological perspective. It’s rare (I’d go so far as to say never) that there is exclusively one way of interpreting a symbol – so many layers, so many dimensions, and no matter how deep I plumb, there is always more to discover: both/and, rather than either/or

    . . . which brings me to an intriguing observation Norland makes in his essay:

    So when we advocate for the ‘non-binary’ logic of myth as the logic of both/and over against either/or, we should not forget the full implication of this proposition: that the logic of both/and must include either/or as its internal complementary opposition. Otherwise we remain caught in the literal split of external opposites. True myth thus operates through the logic of both/and and either/or, following the paradoxical logos of the soul, as an upsurge of the mythic imagination into the material light of history.”

    Indeed, the “non-binary logic” of both/and versus the binary logic of either/or is itself a dualism (wheels within wheels within wheels!). I wold love to hear more about the delicate dance of embracing both/and and either/or . . .

     

    #74339

    Hi Norland, –some reactions to your # 5173:

    I like how you wrote, “We tend to think of myth and history as being in conflict with each other, but the authors of the inscriptions at Palenque and the alphabetic text of the Popol Vuh treated the mythic and historical parts of their narratives as belonging to a single, balanced whole. (58-59)” because I like to think that myths, like art, reflect the times ( zeitgeist) in which they are made to exist.

    In your Mythblast, I am in agreement with you write, “My argument against ‘personal mythology’ is as you say an argument against positivistic ideology but it is also more than that. It touches on the very definition of mythology as a vehicle of truth.” I like that a lot, because sometimes people do not like to see their truth to their own Shadow or the Shadow of the society and leave the unconscious unconscious rather than making the unconscious conscious–and without this willingness, there is not much sometimes one can solve, as if this is an alchemical solvent/solution for change to the gold we seek. Again I could use that quote so often quoted of Campbell’s here : “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” So thus we turn that lead into gold if we can process it–the steps, the mythic truth(s).

    For me, my personal myth comes out of the images and symbols that have created patterns throughout my life, thinking/remembering all the way back to early childhood, from my own personal experiences to those I read of that I loved in books that imprinted their images so strongly in my psyche that I would carry them with me all my life, to the people in my life who are like mythic/archetypal figures or characters, from the “real” people in my life to even those fictional characters who had a big impact on my psyche, or a place I saw everyday or a lot like a favorite spot in the woods and the stories I could tell about those places. It also comes from the cultural myths of my family culture; and from the children’s books on mythology I read as a child and figured out which cultures and myths I felt particularly drawn to (also this happened sometimes at certain different times of my life). Certain parts of landscapes (larger than just a favorite spot) also was my personal myth, for instance, the lake I grew up by. Certain stories I tell my granddaughter about our family from before she was even born are legendary and also part of that myth–because history or historical parts can be included in a myth, just as a legendary character is part legend (heresay based on the folklore–“History became legend, legend became myth…”— Galadriel, Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien) which is part fact. Stephen asked a question it seemed ( I would have to scroll back up to search for it which I hope to do later after I post this) which seemed to me to question truth or when is personal myth not truth or true. I seem to remember Jung either writing somewhere or making a statement about how we can rewrite our history and make it more “nice and shiny” or sugar coat it if we want to or if we are are perhaps not looking at the totality to include the shadow stuff cast; in re-writing our own myths/legends/histories we sometimes avoid the truth and make it prettier and easier to tell to others. This is related to the idea of “Death of the Author”:

    Jung as a Writer: Jung and Death of the Author

    Most of do the best we can to relay our personal myth when we write our memoirs (to tell the truth of our personal myth and I think Jung’s family wanted to leave things out of Jung’s memoirs so then we often have that sort of thing happening with one’s personal myth too–untruth by omission by family members/editors). The link below is Re: Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

    Jung’s challenges in writing his personal myth or memoirs

    I hope to come back to this to respond to more later on other subtopics of Norland’s essay–very much enjoyed it, thank you, Norland and Stephen!

    ~ Marianne

     

    #74338

    Well this certainly is a catalyst to various thoughts!
    Was reading another Myth Blast and did not see a place for comment but this piece definitely overlaps with “personal mythology” and “the collective unconscious.”

    To me the “knee jerk” reactions to “personal mythology” not by Norland Tellez, but by others in society make sense…those off the cuff or skimming perceptions.
    And because of these kinds of perceptions, Tellez is advocating a need for a deeper dig, which is not entranced by the appearance or masks of ideas but more interested in the deeper darker roots which sustain.
    I remember hearing someone talking of “following your bliss,” one of those Bill Maher late nights…and Maher interpreted it as “the right to eat all the ice cream you want.”
    So instead of looking to what draws the artist to create (the deep roots), bliss becomes no more than glitter for a child’s temporary indulgence.

    The perception of Words have a lot of power to evoke certain images in the mind…just as in another essay which Stephen Gerringer wrote about Names.

    Sometimes I think because of certain quick and popular books such as “The Law of Attraction,” and “The Secret,” among others whether one loves that hates that or is in different… that “personal mythology,” seems more like the individual’s search for instant success in all aspects of life.

    But to me Campbell stressed the journey. And the experience of it. The bumps in the road, the light and dark….

    Back to the ego and the collective unconscious…

    Somewhere I remember reading in Campbell that in The East there is no differentiation between Ego and Self…

    But in the West or in the Grail type of adventures there was?

    Yes going beyond pairs of opposites may make that a moot point…

    Yet when I first read Campbell and also noting his own individual adventure along with the personal challenges he faced…

    I read the Self as being an element deeply rooted in each of us…not attached to the desires of the ego but drawn to the eternal quest and to the deeper universal recognition of that place where as Norland says the psyche digs into the flesh!
    Or coming to a place where Universal or Collective Unconscious is experienced a transcendent moment.
    I guess as for the “personal myth” being a controlling or “blocking factor” I can see that,  Norland from the “self gratification or instant gratification so prevalent today.

    But as for ideology, guess after reading Joseph Campbell, I had an inverse perception…more that groups rather than individuals drove ideology or belief whether religious or secular.
    However to me group beliefs were not the same as the deeper roots of collective unconscious or universal consciousness even if such things were inherited or taught. I’m not denying a mythic connection or one tied into the psyche but the trouble comes when the group demands their beliefs to be everyone’s. Or face punishment or crusade or…

    So the inverse in my perception were the individuals (not ego centric) who throughout history or separately through myth saw a new or different way…the Galileos and Copernicuses

    And because they did (getting back to the darker roots) they were persecuted.

    Certainly not all rainbows and glitter!
    I may be wrong Norland, but I think what your conflict is with the “personal mythology,” is when that is “abused,” by the ego centric or worse, when it rises to an individual pathology and or group one, which desires control.
    I agree…despicable.
    Where as I imagine for so many here inspired by Joseph Campbell, the humbler but passionate quest of the individual heroes or heroines came to that place where all falls away in that aha moment a moment where the collected unconscious takes over. An example: the realization of seeing our planet from the moon… An awareness which we all share, an eternal realization of our connection with everyone and the planet coming from deep down in the roots of the psyche.
    Just now and aha moment occurs to me Norland with your excellent description of the psyche digging painfully into the flesh!
    At the risk of metaphor, I see the symbolic snake painfully biting the place between the eyes opening the symbolic third eye in order to expand sight and awareness.
    As for Tolkien, though better suited perhaps for another topic…his influences both from his early life, scholarly connections and war time experience are all noted. I saw that recent movie on Tolkien. But wondered about the writings in which Tolkien spoke of not all of his writing being a conscious decision or rather he said “something” was writing through him?

    That seems to dig down into collected unconscious territory to me!!
    Especially since Tolkien seemed to want to avoid allegory whenever pressed.

    Well enough! I’ve wandered off like an Ent!

    So thank you Norland and Stephen for lively mytho? Historic? Food for thought!!!
    Peaceful lively debates! Love it!!

    #74337

    Thank you so much for your thoughts and impressions @sunbug,

    I am always delighted to find a real understanding of what goes on in my writing, designed in a certain way to cut through the difficult path that separates and unites opposites.

    You are quite right when you say that I am “advocating a need for a deeper dig, which is not entranced by the appearance or masks of ideas but more interested in the deeper darker roots which sustain.” In contrast to “the right to eat all the ice cream you want,” as you mentioned, I am more interested in myth and ritual as the place where psyche digs into flesh.

    And you are right to say that ideology is a collective phenomenon but it takes individuals to give them flesh. The archetypal and the ideological are not so separated, however. For every ideology has a mythic core and every mythology spins and spells a series of ideological fantasies. There is an intertwining between myth and ideology that is not easy to disentangle. They are like myth and history, dialectically distinguished and revisioned as one.

    And you are not wrong to suppose in some sense that my conflict with personal mythology is its ‘abuse,’ “by the ego centric or worse, when it rises to an individual pathology and or group one, which desires control.” As you write:

    Where as I imagine for so many here inspired by Joseph Campbell, the humbler but passionate quest of the individual heroes or heroines came to that place where all falls away in that aha moment a moment where the collected unconscious takes over. An example: the realization of seeing our planet from the moon… An awareness which we all share, an eternal realization of our connection with everyone and the planet coming from deep down in the roots of the psyche.
    Just now and aha moment occurs to me Norland with your excellent description of the psyche digging painfully into the flesh! At the risk of metaphor, I see the symbolic snake painfully biting the place between the eyes opening the symbolic third eye in order to expand sight and awareness.

    Very nice metaphor indeed, which touches on the theme of my next mythblast, where I expand the metaphor with the image of the kundalini serpent. I won’t give any spoilers but I will say that the image of the serpent plays a fundamental role in the symbolic order of the archetypal imagination.

    uroborous

    #74336

    Ahh a beaked serpent! Well that certainly conjures some mythic roots!
    I do agree it certainly does take individuals to be the instigators of “giving scales to the dragon” thus being a catalyst for the collective beliefs that follow.
    And the intertwining between mythic and ideology also makes sense.

    I can imagine an “overlap” between what already exists in the deep roots of the psyche and How “interpreters” come along to “give voice” to what already exists…or their “version of it.”

    My Mother was an Astronomer and she told me that long ago when there was an eclipse, that some of the people in China used to believe a Dragon was eating the Sun or Moon.

    Also remember reading a quick interpretation of myths and legends as a way for the Ancients to relate to the world around them…to understand or explain.

    Must admit I do love the idea of story telling Oral traditions which carry on tales of memory and culture whether bardic or shamanic…for me can see beauty there…and connection Story Telling being alive digging deep and transcending…(not dogmatic)

    But can also imagine when people have certain fearful ideas or images such as a dragon eating the moon (and it does not have to be China could be anywhere) that there are also opportunists who can find a “niche” by “having an answer” (does not matter whether they believe it or not) and the fearful or uncertain people gravitate towards these individuals who end up being a catalyst for a collective belief which is a mix of what is already buried in the psyche and what is interpreted by those now considered gurus…something which I would guess is passed down generationally…

    Until a few individuals balk or see a new path another way incurring the scorn of the inherited collective mix and the opportunists who are now revered. Especially the scorn of the latter.
    But it comes full circle through the individuals who broke away so each is once again in touch with the deeper roots the earth from the moon and the true and original sense of Universal connection with every one and All and collected unconscious (un-manipulated)

    For disclaimer I have lovely Spiritual friends and know people from Catholic priests to Buddhists who are wonderful lovely open hearted people who would never fit the definition of opportunists. And I have friends who are very spiritual…so I choose care and kindness.

     

    After all, there is too much wonderful mystery in the Universe and on this planet to not be inspired!!!

     

     

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