July 20, 2022 at 11:22 pm #74732
On a different note what about the journeyer who “freezes” “chokes?” The one who at the most critical time “fails?” Or stands-by…then later cannot forgive themselves for “standing-by?”
Instead of facing fear…the fear consumes them…they cannot move.
And if bad things happen in the aftermath of a Freeze? Then THAT would definitely change a journey arc.
I think there are more Stories that do address this over the years now.
But It would have been curious to see how or if Joseph Campbell would have addressed this.
It almost feels as though this is a struggle beyond releasing the ego.
In fact the Freeze itself seems to make make the character/person more likely to undervalue their worth than build up an ego. And there might not always be a happy resolution *care.*
But maybe I should wait until the month of the not so successful return before any further musing.July 20, 2022 at 11:32 pm #74731
Juan: without a circumstance, there is no hero.
Love that! It definitely helps de-center a limited motif! To put the emphasis on something outside-in, such as circumstance, helps give a different and maybe broader perspective.
I see the circumstance also as being a call to heroic groups, fellowships and communities as well.
Since Stephen titles this There and back again…brings the image to mind of Gandalf (ie in LOTR not Hobbit) saying: “You must choose what to do with the time that is given.”July 20, 2022 at 11:57 pm #74730
Thanks Stephen. I agree with you.
I start a ramble and become lost myself. Did a quick re-do so could respond directly to Juan.July 21, 2022 at 12:13 am #74729
[Jung] wrote ‘Individuation cuts one off from personal conformity and hence from collectivity. That is the guilt which the individuant leaves behind him for the world, that is the guilt he must endeavour to redeem.’ Jung saw guilt as relating the pair of opposites of community and individuation, and in order for the individuant to redeem his/her guilt, he/she must successfully bring back ‘values which are an equivalent substitute for his absence in the collective personal sphere.’ This is because ‘what society demands is imitation or conscious identification, a treading of accepted, authorized paths. Only by accomplishing an equivalent is one exempted from this.’ “
I am in awe of this congruence between Jung’s thought and Campbell’s understanding; of course their thinking is compatible (Joe had no problem crediting Jung as “providing the best clues”), but I had not made this connection before. Your summation (“Failure to successfully bring back equivalent values makes individuation immoral”) also answers the critics of both men who claim individuation and/or the individual hero’s journey are the epitome of self-indulgent navel-gazing. It takes a deeper and longer look to understand how these ultimately lead to re-integration with society (and, I would argue, create a stronger, more vibrant community).
While I have your attention, maybe you’d be willing to share your reflections on the community within. Here is where James Hillman really speaks to me with his discussion of the polytheistic psyche (which I find perfectly compatible with my read of Jung). That struck such a chord when I first encountered his work. I’m a Gemini; in my experience, Geminis are more than just “twins” – from childhood on I’ve always had one heck of a huge committee within, and they’re not always pulling in the same direction (which is not to say I take astrology literally, but I do find it a valuable tool for re-imagining and mythologizing my life).
In the words of Walt Whitman, who shares my birthday:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
Tending to the community residing within seems just as essential as tending to community outside oneself. Hillman is an invaluable guide for that (as, in my mind, are Mary Watkins – Waking Dreams; Invisible Guests – and Robert Bosnak – Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming; Embodiment – Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art, and Travel – among others).
Though I don’t want to pull the conversation too far into the weeds, I’m curious if you have any thoughts you’d care to share on the subject. (Pretty sure I don’t need to tell you this, but don’t worry if your opinion differs from mine – that’s what makes it a conversation, an exchange of thoughts and ideas, rather than a debate.)July 21, 2022 at 12:57 am #74728
I like your questions and recent reply post to Robert. But wanted to give a chance for Robert to give you a reply there so that’s why I replied here. You ask very important questions about “inner community.” And allow the room for disagreement. Very refreshing!
I think Thai Nhat Hahn deals with both inner and outer community. His thoughts on “inter-being” resonate with me.
There is something highly lovely and welcoming about his gentle approach.
Honopohno (sp) is a lovely And/Both in another way…giving to others and community and that in turn heals something internal. In other words balance.
It’s always been interesting to see the different emphases given to various myths and stories. From Main Focus on Duty either individual or collective
Or Main Focus on instructional value
Or Focus on Compassion or Sacrifice
Or Discovery and Inspiration
Or Second Chances (or a Fall)
Its fascinating!July 21, 2022 at 3:19 am #74727
Thank you for your kind response and challenging (and ultimately rewarding) line of inquiry, largely about the community within and our responsibilities there. This is a massive topic and I apologize for the length of my response. Before I begin, I am posting this as a new entry instead of as a reply because the web page formats replies by indenting them thereby making the text thinner, something that I think interferes with the readability and aesthetic of the post.
Let me begin my reflections by first considering Jung. The reason I responded to your post on Joseph Campbell with Jung is that Jung’s ‘confrontation’ is an example of what Campbell called creative mythology in Volume 4 of his Masks of God master set, that particular volume in my opinion being his greatest work. And it was also a good example of how essential community is to what he derived from that set of experiences. In fact, Jung is told point blank that community is essential, that religion is defined in terms of community, that it is expressed through the “transformation of human relations.”
Now, I don’t remember Jung specifically expressing individuation in terms of fulfilling obligations to the community within (e.g., he didn’t, like Shaman and Elder Dr. Malidoma Somé, say something to the effect of individuation as being of service to the ancesors). But, that is just a matter, perhaps, of style of expression. In the details of what he experienced and what he did in his life, fulfilling obligations to the inner community is an extremely strong presence. Some examples.
On February 24, 1916, shortly after his last Sermon (i.e., Seven Sermons to the Dead), Philemon informed Jung that Jung is not just an individual, but that he has also become a collective figure, that “no longer are you an I, but a river that pours forth over the lands. … You are the fool and the door between two eternities, an open passage, a street walked upon; one walks on it with shoes and spits on it.” On January 5, 1922, Jung asks his Soul what his calling is, and his Soul replies that his calling is “The new religion and its proclamation.” Thus, Jung serves a collective role, the substance of which comes from the inner figures (who are ‘real’).
On March 31, 1916, Jung speaks with his Soul:
Soul: It is true, we need the human mediator and rescuer, because man is not only soul to us, but also God. Since these, who are Gods to you here, are men craving for your help there, where you are God. You must already build your divinity here and now in order to prepare the way to the crossing over. We really need your help. I gave you the dark and horrible dream so your face would turn toward us, and through me to the Gods. I let their torment reach you so that you would remember the suffering Gods.
Jung: What is their suffering? And how can I help?
Soul: You do too much for men, rather let go of men and turn toward the Gods since they are the masters of the world, where you as a man live. In effect you can help men only through the Gods, not directly. The burning torments of the Gods needs to be alleviated. Men look after themselves.
One can also consider the very Red Book itself as fulfilling an obligation to the inner community as that book now gives voice to that inner world. I also remember that in the beginning of 1914, Jung helps a sick god Izdubar become born again and renewed. I am also reminded of that wonderful couple Baucis and Philemon in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, but who experience deep tragedy in Goethe’s Faust. Though Goethe’s figures were not the inner ones of Jung, Jung took responsibility for them in his life. It seems to me that Jung lived his life with conscious responsibility to the inner community.
Now, the individual who explicitly lives his life for what we might see as the inner community was Dr. Malidoma Somé. He was a Shaman and Elder of the Dagara community in Burkina Faso in West Africa. And his initiation and life were lived with the ancestors in the forefront of his mind. His book Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman is simply a wonderfully beautiful book. In 2014, I had the honor and privilege of having a one hour audience with him. Such a beautiful man!
You mentioned James Hillman and I want to say a few words here. First, I think he is far too hard on monotheism and mistates certain necessary conditions for monotheism’s existence and certain of its characteristics and effects on people. It has been my experience that there have been in history gentler forms of monotheism. I also feel that it is important for comparative mythology and depth psychology to devote time to reading the history and archeology on this. For example, reading about the first known monotheism, the worship of Aten, the ancient Egyptian sun-disc god, and the move by Pharoah Akhenaten to change Egypt from a polytheistic country to a monotheistic one in the 14th century BC is important. There, we can see the earliest form of monotheism and understand better its qualities in ancient Egypt. If you read the hymns to Aten, he is certainly depicted as the creator of all, but not, as Hillman would say of all monotheism, an exclusively good god. So, rigorous scholarship is necessary in order to understand the true qualities of monotheism as it has been experienced over the many millennia by different cultures.
Now, if I understand Hillman’s work, he is advocating, not polytheism, but polytheistic thinking and approaches. I do believe such is very important! But, there is a very real danger that monotheistic thinking is ignored. From a pragmatic perspective, I believe there is a place for both polytheistic and monotheistic thinking. Both are mutually interdependent and neither essentially more important than the other.
In my latest scholarly activities, I am working through the process of reconsidering the concept of the unconscious and developing a new model for it. The expressions of what we now conceive to be related to the unconscious come from many cultures over extremely vast periods of time, reaching back even to the earliest writings in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennia B.C. But, it has been argued that the ‘unconscious’ is a particular concept, a concept which exhibits certain patterns found in a particular culture during a particular period of time. As others have said (e.g., Jung), in the past we used terms like ‘mana,’ ‘daimon,’ ‘god,’ etc., as early expressions of what we now see as the ‘unconscious.’ However, the ‘unconscious’ as we presently conceive it is an explanation for how we are affected by inner forces not explainable by the dynamics of consciousness or by the causation which links thoughts to that which affects us. This exhibits a pattern particular to our time and our culture – the perspective of ‘I,’ its causation of a field of thoughts or dynamic process of thinking, and its formulation of identity. Thus, the concept of the ‘unconscious’ is specifically tied to this particular pattern of that held to be inner which is not explainable by ego and that which the ego causes. The question about the history of our concept of the ‘unconscious’, then, is largely a history of this particular pattern of thinking or of conceptualization. The work of Leibniz in the late 17th century is the earliest I have been able to see this pattern, but we might find this pattern further back in time.
Crucial to all of this is bringing into consciousness particular decisions which were made in the development of the concept of the ‘unconscious.’ With the existence of firmly established depth psychological traditions and their respective models of the ‘unconscious,’ it is exceedingly difficult to discover what these decisions were and why they were made. However, by bringing together the work of Jung, Hillman, Giegerich, and Dr. Stanton Marlan who is an expert on all three, these decisions are brought out into the light. For the agreements and disagreements among these pioneers provide, in essence, a sort of map, the specific areas of divergence representing a particular decision having been made.
The reason I mention this is that the notion of inner and outer was a decision – there was a decision to make the ‘unconscious’ a concept of the inner. So, when we speak of inner community, this thinking is, in many ways, a specific result of this decision. Perhaps instead, and I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the notion of inner community, we might think of such a community as always being present, but at a different frequency – that we can only perceive this community if we ourselves are at the right frequency.
There is a beautiful story about a Buddhist monk named Asanga who lived in the 4th century AD. He lived a life doing austere meditation practices. After some years, because he could not see Bodhisattva Maitreya, the next Buddha, he thought of quitting, but would through various circumstances be convinced to continue. After a few times of this, he eventually comes into a situation in which he is most compassionate, and it is then that he sees Maitreya who had been with him all of this time.
So, tending to these communities, those we perceive and those we may not, is exceedingly important.July 21, 2022 at 6:20 pm #74726
On a different note what about the journeyer who “freezes” “chokes?” The one who at the most critical time “fails?” Or stands-by…then later cannot forgive themselves for “standing-by?”
Instead of facing fear…the fear consumes them…they cannot move.
And if bad things happen in the aftermath of a Freeze? Then THAT would definitely change a journey arc.
Joe speaks to this in Pathways to Bliss:
Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco.”
We only hear about the quests that succeed – there’s nothing satisfying, for storyteller or listeners, to tales that fail (” . . . and then, as Hypothalamus confronted the beast on his quest to rescue the damsel-in-distress, the dragon burnt our hero to a crisp with a blast from his nostrils, then consumed the fair maiden. The End.”)
But many hero journeys do end in failure – they just don’t write myths, or blockbuster movies, about that. There has to be that element of risk – the difference between a true adventure and a theme park ride . . .July 22, 2022 at 12:04 am #74725
Replying to post #7448
What a rich, generous, and thought-provoking response (this is why we call it “Conversations of a Higher Order”).
And you are right about how each reply is further indented, which is really a pain with lengthy posts, especially trying to read them on a mobile device, so direct replies one or maybe two deep is about the most that work; beyond that, I’d recommend citing the number of the post one is replying to (which I did here just as an example, even though I clicked on “Reply”), to help other readers follow an exchange.
There is so much here worth discussing. Your passion is clear, and your insights are appreciated. There is much I would love to respond to, but I have a limited amount of time at the moment (another reason I appreciate your investment of time and energy – putting together a lengthy post that makes sense is no simple task), so I’ll just mention a few things in passing.
From a pragmatic perspective, I believe there is a place for both polytheistic and monotheistic thinking. Both are mutually interdependent and neither essentially more important than the other.”
Amen to that! Your characterization of Hillman’s thought of course rings true. In fairness, given the trend toward “monotheistic thinking” among some Jungians over the time period after Jung’s passing (in which Hillman formed many of the ideas underlying archetypal / imaginal psychology), he came to stress the polytheistic imagination in reaction to a perceived calcification of Jung’s work among his disciples. I understand that as compensation – or, perhaps, “over compensation” to balance out that perceived trend
. . . but, at least in my understanding of Hillman, he doesn’t completely throw out the baby with the bathwater. He felt depth psychology was blind to this default “monotheistic” approach; his work definitely altered that equation, metaphorically speaking, and expanded the conversation.
Nevertheless, your point, about him being a bit hard on monotheism, is well taken. (And, historically, you are right – monotheism is more of a spectrum, than a one-size-fits-all.)
Which brings me to another reaction, reflected in your mention of bringing the work of Jung, Hillman, and Giegerich together (Dr. Marlan’s work is off my radar, but that’s easy enough to fix). That, too, strikes a chord. It’s not so much a debate, not an either-or; what works for me is to approach these differences not as mutually exclusive sides to an argument that must be won, but as multiple layers and dimensions of a dynamic and ongoing discussion, with all bringing important pieces to the table that expand my own knowledge and understanding.
And lastly, thank you for bringing up the spatial aspect. I find “inner” and “outer” useful especially, when speaking to the general public – those are terms easy to understand. Same thing with depth, where what is interior can also be equated with what is “below” – this too, can be useful, . . . but these are just models. Though I’m likely to still use this vocabulary at times, perceiving this “inner community” in different terms, as omnipresent but occupying a different frequency (or even dimension, if one prefers) is a significant game-changer (one supported in many myths and fairy tales; even though depth psychologists in general may interpret “stepping into the faery glen” as an inward movement into one’s interior – “the unconscious [love your unpacking of that, by the way], that’s not how those who originally heard the fairy tales, or actually experienced the fae folk in their own lives, interpreted that narrative.
Ultimately, what I believe is key is not so much theory, but the experience: Jung on the shore of the lake, playing with blocks and how that activates his imagination – that is real. Also, his encounters with Philemon, his dialogues with his Soul – this is what’s real, what counts. All the definitions, classifications, and models developed by one thinker or another (including thee and me) come as interpretations after the fact. Though various approaches may speak more to some than others, all have value – but what is essential is the experience
And I’ll leave it there for the moment . . . but I would say you have more than answered my question, in a most delightful way!
Thank you for sharing your passion, and your understanding, with our little community here.July 22, 2022 at 2:20 am #74724
I agree with the critical importance of direct experience. This was an essential theme in Joseph Campbell’s book Creative Mythology and he saw it as an important aspect of any Western spiritual path. And I was very moved by this when I did a close reading of this book 20+ years ago. In 1915, two years after the “confrontation with the unconscious” began, Jung strove to find other cultures who had the same experiences as he. From his readings, he discovered that the ancient Gnostics had and this discovery led to the recognition that his experiences were not just personal to him, but were far more broadly applicable. Crucially, the Gnostics greatly valued direct experience and direct revelation.
In the German version of Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung wrote of his Black Book experiences “The first imaginations and dreams were like fiery liquid basalt; out of them crystallized the stone that I could work.” Jung’s subsequent work lasting more than four decades would be to give shape to that stone, a shape that would be meaningful to him as an individual as well as being amenable to the thinking and academia of his time (“give birth to the old in a new time”).
In 1935, Jung gave a series of lectures at the Institute of Medical Psychology (Tavistock Clinic) in London. These lectures were delivered to an audience largely made up of medical professionals. There he said the following:
To decide when to apply the one or the other method rests with the analyst’s skill and experience. Practical medicine is, and has always been an art, and the same is true of practical analysis. True art is creation, and creation is beyond all theories.
And then Jung followed up with an incredibly important piece of advice:
That is why I say to any beginner: Learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of the living soul. Not theories, but your own creative individuality alone must decide.
Thus, we see here the need for both theory and a focus on direct experience. This reminds me of the art of medieval and early modern Latin alchemy. There was a part of the practice where the adept, with the proper state of mind, carried out their alchemical operations in the laboratory, and there was a part of the practice for the theoria. This theoria was not just conceptualization, but a critical thinking activity just as important as the activity of the imaginatio which Jung described as “the active evocation of (inner) images.” Crucially, this theoria greatly influences what is called the dynamics of speculative thinking, part (or much) of which happens unconsciously. Giegerich held that the experiences of the alchemists could be explained, not as a result of projection of unconscious contents onto matter, but on the dynamic activity of unconscious speculative thinking. Giegerich writes:
But why could it not be that the alchemists’ experiences were genuine first-time productions, on-the-spot inventions? In other words, instances of creative speculative thought? The products of an active, lively mind? Production instead of ‘projection of contents’? Living thought (as the activity or process of thinking)?
Thus, theory and theorizing is an exceedingly important activity and does not have to be considered as mutually exclusive with respect to direct experience. This is why Jung said in German “This ‘theory,’ however, is a form of existence belonging to my life, it represents a way of life as necessary to me as eating and drinking.”
As a multidisciplinary scholar and corporate professional who comes from fields which require significant abstraction – theoretical computer science, discrete and combinatorial mathematics, complexity science – I have experienced the dry desert of relying solely on pure thought and thought on such a high abstract level. However, I also appreciate the strength that such abstraction and forms of thinking possess – the cultivation of mental discipline that is a result of such thinking. An analogy for such discipline is the imagining in tantric Tibetan Buddhism where immense focus is done on imagining specific things, such discipline and experience combining to allow the achievement of higher realization.
Theory does not have to be a soul-sucking activity. Instead, it can be lively and life-giving – it can give a certain kind of life to one’s experiences. And it can shape our hermeneutic of those experiences as well as (critically) shape the future experiences that we have. It can also serve as a protection for us when experiencing difficult psychic events of immense power.
The view of inner and outer certainly has its important uses. The reason I’m revisiting this decision is not for theory’s sake, but to explore ways that the modern mind can see the unconscious. And one of the things that has been made clear to me, reinforced by Giegerich’s work, is that Jung made decisions which resulted in a positivistic model of the unconscious. Such a model has its strengths and weaknesses. I am currently working on a conceptualization which lessens the degree of positivization. But the inner/outer conceptualization also has impact on our approaches. For example, it leads to seeing depth psychology as only being applied to the psyche of the individual in the context of the therapy room, something with which James Hillman disagreed.July 22, 2022 at 5:01 pm #74723
Returning our focus to the world outside oneself, here is another take on “community” from Joseph Campbell:
The community today is the planet, not the bounded nation; hence the patterns of projected aggression which formerly served to co-ordinate the in-group now can only break it into factions. The national idea, with the flag as totem, is today an aggrandizer of the nursery ego, not the annihilator of an infantile situation.” (The Hero with a Thousand Faces)
“[A]ll popular thinking is in term of loyalties to the local communities to which all, severally, are members; and such thinking is now out of date. What we face is a challenge to recognize one community on this earth, and what we find in the face of this challenge is everybody pulling back into his own in-group. I don’t want to name the in-groups, but we all know pretty well what they are.”
(Joseph Campbell, audio interview with E. Bouratinos for The Man and Myth Project, 1985)
The hero’s journey is complete when we bring a boon back and share it with the community – but, as Campbell points out, there are no more bounded horizons.
[E]very culture mythology up to date has grown up within a certain horizon, a horizon of common experience which the members of that culture have all shared. And you go to another horizon you have other experiences, and the mythology will have a different complexion, a different quality altogether. Now the horizon is the planet. I mean that, not even that is the horizon. . . .
And the new thing that is very difficult for people to realize is our society is the human race. And our little suburb is the globe.
(“Joseph Campbell Talks with Studs Terkel,” January 31, 1973, WFMT Chicago)
Who is it we are questing for? Looks like the whole wide world – which seems like one hell of an ask. Nevertheless, the accent remains on the individual journey.
It has to be found first in private life. I would say that whatever is about to occur in the way of
transformation of consciousness will have had to have occurred, first, in the hearts of individual human
beings, who will then have had—as a result of their very presence—an influence in the larger
community. . .
I think that in one’s political action and influences, if one can think of oneself as part of a world community without betraying the legitimate interests of one’s local neighborhood, one would be helping the world forward.”
(Joseph Campbell, audio interview with E. Bouratinos for The Man and Myth Project, 1985)July 22, 2022 at 5:26 pm #74722
1st Reply to # 7453
Stephen was just thinking this too! Spaceship Earth. Wrote a post directed it in general to All but now will include as Reply and to All.
I apologize ahead of time for the long ramble in next post. (when it comes to Tolkien and his writings alas I become even more of an Ent ) But this is There and Back Again. So *shrug* laugh.
But recently have been thinking how the old tales (and new) of healing the land metaphorically take some stories into horizons beyond one village and how land can metaphorically equal world or earth. It is not Middle Earth Village…it’s Middle Earth.
Well better cut this one short as I’ll repeat what will be posted below.July 22, 2022 at 5:29 pm #74721
Reply to Stephen #7453
(and to All)
One of the things I find interesting about the “There and Back Again” journey in so many stories is that even if the protagonist/s goal is to return to their own village…
On the journey. the protagonists may walk through many other villages, communities and peoples.
In fact Bilbo’s “Burglar Quest” is on behalf of a different people: the dwarves. He goes along to help them reclaim their lost home from the dragon.
And LOTR brings together various peoples/characters in different kingdoms to stand against the darkness claiming the land and give a chance for the anti-boon to be destroyed.
But that brings up a curious thought:
The older idea of the “healing of the land. The wasteland around Camelot comes to mind but it’s certainly not the only story or tale where a sickness or blight in the land exists. (Yes back to Persephone’s time and others.)
What is interesting to me about the “healing of the land,” is the expansiveness of the idea and image both within and without the psyche.
(unless there is only one region of dead forest in the tale.)
One or many can go forth from their own village and return to their own villages after an adventure.
But in these tales, where a darkness or sickness is encroaching, appearing or lingering in the land (ie Mirkwood was not always spider infested used to be The Greenwood) …
In these tales it’s not just one village affected, it’s all… and it affects people and nature alike (an interconnection someone like author David Abrams might appreciate.)
So whereas a journey where one is focused on a return and integration into a particular community…
Now the fate of all is also tied into the land. And the idea of healing the land is tied into healing more than one community. Or at least breaking a spell.
It’s an interesting More Than…one thing alone perspective and such a journey does take More than one journeyer as well.
But sometimes, the answer is confounding: seemingly simple but also difficult.
The path to gain a boon or destroy an antiboon can be frought with uncertainty and second and 3rd guessing.
The inner voice is not always heard, when keeping up appearances drowns it out or when the insidious voice of The Ring clutches at
fears, desires, desperation AND hopeful dreams. The Ring tempts with False Light too. The illusion of a greater good. Boromir: “It is a gift!”
I know Campbell said the focus of myth would invariably be on man now. (Understood as humans.) And I understand that as focusing on the Here and Now.
Yet with the image of Spaceship earth, the Cosmos has not quite left us or our dreams. And Campbell understood that too.
What I find fascinating about the Healing of the land focus in older and newer stories is that these type of journey/s expand and include more than one village. Even though each village still retains importance in its own right.
The destruction of the One Ring of Power literally shows this.
And what astounds me is how this seemingly Old storyline of healing the land, is surprisingly close to the modern 20th/21st century and onward view of “spaceship earth,” and everyone on it.
Of course, it could be argued, that “land” was only understood as what a particular group village knew geographically around them at the time. (Looking from a literal perspective.)
But from a symbolic perspective. Land also can equal the world. Why I am partial to the idea of “Middle Earth.”
It takes it beyond “Middle Earth Village.” And there are those other realms at the edge of the horizon as well.
I think of the various Hobbits’ return from adventure that also acknowledge the other peoples’ story arcs. (Noting some characters like Faramir and Eowyn were fated to create a “new” home/kingdom in the watch place of Ithilien. (Not to mention a handful of elves.)
Frodo was UNABLE to stay for long, when he returned after the Toll of the Ring.
So SAM carries the Story forward into the next generations.
It’s both beautiful and bittersweet. And Sam points out everyone comes and goes in the story.
Bilbo’s adventure seems to me as much an inner quest as an outer one. And interestingly the experience of adventure itself (something Campbell would appreciate 😉 often seems to be part of the goal.
Yet, Bilbo’s village presumes him dead and attempts to sell his house.
So it’s more difficult to see any sort of boon on behalf of Hobbiton then. Except the boon of the knowledge passed onto the next generations. More so with Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin who all grow on their journeys. Frodo leaves, but he leaves the books behind passes them on to Sam, who is the next keeper of the tale. And Sam’s very humble and brave nature and his acts of kindness, prove he is a good keeper of the tale.
Except there is that business of “The Scouring of the Shire” and in THAT case the Four Hobbit Adventurers HELP FREE their village from Saruman in the form of Sharky. So they use the gift of all their experience and journeys to work together and help Hobbiton then. And Help the other hobbits to also stand ground and free hobbiton from a slightly disheveled and fallen from power Sorcerer.
On a side note: I wonder if the Baggins/Took energies could be thought of as sort of an internal twin quest?
The Homebody verses the Adventurer? After all, Bilbo keeps feeling each side pulling him on his quest. And even the Adventurer: “The Took” is split between “Foolish and Brave.” Fool of a Took! You will find your courage Peregrine Took.
Well, this is a Wander long enough to become lost. So to ground myself (Laugh) Gandalf’s words to Bilbo come to mind:
“You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”
“Thank goodness!” said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.”
Love this! What a healthy way to return from all journeys!July 22, 2022 at 6:15 pm #74720
This observation of yours,
What I find fascinating about the Healing of the land focus in older and newer stories is that journey/s expand to include more than one village. Even though each village still retains importance in its own right.”
. . . for some reason brings to my mind this image Joseph Campbell shares:
In this wonderful book of John Neidhart, Black Elk Speaks, you have an Oglala Sioux, who had in his youth had a mystical vision of, you might say, the destiny before his people and there he saw the hoop of his nation, as he calls it, as one of many hoops, and all the hoops interlocking, all of them expressing the same humanity. And he said, ‘I saw myself standing on the highest central mountain of the world. And so I saw, in a vision, all the nations as one people.’ And he said, ‘The central mountain of the world is Harney Peak, in South Dakota,’ and then immediately after said, ‘the central mountain is everywhere.’
When you take your Harney Peak to be the central mountain, you have lost the reference to humanity and have become stuck with your particular ethnic or national group and that’s what we have with all of these religions. They are taking their symbols historically and concretely and not reading them as metaphors and consequently they’ve lost the connection with humanity. And since we are now in a planet that is one people, one planet, interlocked economically even, to such a way you can’t speak of any horizon as being separate or a separate hoop, it’s time to read all of these things in terms of the human reference, not of the local political one.”
(Audio Archive LO839 – John Lobell Interview of Joseph Campbell – 12.28.83, Radio Show – “Natural Living”)July 22, 2022 at 8:40 pm #74719
To follow Stephen’s lead and return to focus on the outside world, let me begin with the book Black Elk Speaks since it was referenced in this discussion. I think it would be good to expand on the quote pertaining to the important notion of the “center of the world.” In the book, Black Elk recounts:
Then a Voice said: ‘Behold this day, for it is yours to make. Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see, for there they are taking you.’
Black Elk continued:
I was still on my bay horse, and once more I felt the riders of the west, the north, the east, the south, behind me in formation, as before, and we were going east. I looked ahead and saw the mountains there with rocks and forests on them, and from the mountains flashed all colors upward to the heavens. Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.
In an endnote to this passage contains the following clarification of what Black Elk said:
Black Elk said the mountain he stood upon in his vision was Harney Peak in the Black Hills. ‘But anywhere is the center of the world,’ he added.
I think that Joseph Campbell refers to this in his interview, but one is reminded of Definition II (of God) of Liber XXIV Philosophorum (“The Book of the Twenty Four Philosophers”) which reads:
Deus est sphaera infinita ciuis centrum est ubique, circumferentia nusquam.
God: An infinite sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.
Here, we see the critical importance of a dynamic balance between focus on the details of local culture and the broader view of global interdependence. Both are important! The problem is that in the 21st century, global interdependence is valued far higher than local culture – it is recognized at the severe cost of the local. Neoliberalism, defined as “the philosophical view that a society’s political and economic institutions should be robustly liberal and capitalist, but supplemented by a constitutionally limited democracy and a modest welfare state,” has been the dominant world system since the beginning of the 1980s. It is employed today in the total support of global free trade and freedom of international markets. Unfortunately, it has become exceedingly toxic and has grown too far away from the original optimism in the early 1950s by economists such as economics Nobel laureate Dr. Milton Friedman who wrote the paper Neo-Liberalism and its Prospects in 1951. This global view, in many ways, has steamrolled over so many local cultures. And the toxicity of such a global system divorced from local culture can be seen by those countries and those populations that suffer under neoliberalism. We can likewise see this toxicity in the actions which are causing climate decline, a state which may very well be irreversible. Thus, we see on the world stage the dominance of global factors over local ones. More specifically, we see the dominance of global factors as conceived by an exceedingly small set of representatives over local cultures and massive populations. This unbalance threatens the very existence of our species.
In Joseph Campbell’s interviews with Bill Moyers, they have this exchange:
Moyers: What kind of new myth do we need?
Campbell: We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.
Campbell would later say that the new myth would have to be one of the entire planet:
When you see the earth from the moon, you don’t see any divisions there of nations or states. This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come.
I have some thoughts on this. The first is that there may be at present one growing global new myth – that of the UFO. In 1958, Jung published a small book entitled Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies which applied his depth psychology as a lens with which to view the data of UFOs, data including eyewitness and/or radar sightings of UFOs, and dreams and visions of them. The approach that Jung took with respect to this phenomena constitutes a middle way between real and not real that is ontologically justified. Jung gave three categories of UFO experiences based on all of the data he had reviewed:
- Internal only (unconscious fantasy emerges about the UFO, possibly due to primary perception)
- External only (radar detection only but UFO invisible to the human eye)
- Internal/External (primary perception + radar/photograph corroboration of the UFO)
From this, he concluded that “something is seen, but one doesn’t know what.” Jung wrote that the mass sightings and other experiences of UFOs indicates “a psychological situation common to all mankind” where its basis is “an emotional tension having its cause in a situation of collective distress or danger, or in a vital psychic need. … The psychic situation of mankind and the UFO phenomenon as a physical reality bear no recognizable causal relationship to one another, but they seem to coincide in a meaningful manner.”
As you well know, 1958 was around ten years after the beginning of the Cold War. A powerful split was constellated which had severe repercussions around the world. And whereas in history humankind might have described the phenomenon of the UFO as manifestations of gods, daimones, angels, devils, etc., instead we perceive this in a manner that is consistent with 20th century thinking – an extraterrestrial race possessing superior technology to our own, potentially posing great danger to the human species.
It seems to me that this myth is one of the entire Earth, but that its interpretation is born out of fear. There is an alternate way of experiencing these great powers, and it comes from the work of the late psychiatrist Dr. John Mack. Dr. Mack was head of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He was asked by a friend to look into the experiences of those who claimed to have been repeatedly abducted by aliens. In all, he worked with 200+ such cases, recording their experiences as carefully as he could and then analyzing the complete corpus of information. It should be noted that many of those experiencers were so traumatized by their ordeal that they required hypnosis to aid in their conscious recall of their experiences.
From these records, Dr. Mack was able to piece together a larger pattern which he called the “Alien Abduction Phenomenon.” Though these 200+ experiencers did not know one another, their descriptions in a number of areas were mutually corroborative. But, one part of their experience seems to me to be absolutely critical and may give us clues about the psychic situation of human beings Jung referred to. The experiencers state that one part of their experience was where the aliens show them two images side-by-side. The first image is of Earth as it was very long ago. The second image is of Earth as it is now. The sight of this is so profoundly disturbing to them that some have dedicated their lives toward improving this planet. Perhaps this is part of the psychic situation of human beings we urgently need to become aware of. And the powers being experienced may not be extra terrestrial ones, but be the Earth itself communicating with us in ways that we can understand.
This is an example of a new global myth. But, I think that the new myths will also be of a local and especially personal nature. For this, I need only recall Jung’s journey and his translation of the “new religion” which was revealed to him into the path of individuation, a path unique to each individual.
There is a wonderful image of this in the dream of Jungian analyst Max Zeller and Jung’s interpretation of it, and it seems to me to embody a balance of global and local perspectives. The dream is as follows:
A temple of vast dimensions was in the process of being built. As far as I could see—ahead, behind, right and left—there were incredible numbers of people building on gigantic pillars. I, too, was building on a pillar. The whole building process was in its very beginnings, but the foundation was already there, the rest of the building was starting to go up, and I and many others were working on it.
Max Zeller then recounts his subsequent conversation with Jung:
Jung: Ja, you know, that is the temple we all build on. We don’t know the people because, believe me, they build in India and China and in Russia and all over the world. That is the new religion. You know how long it will take until it is built?
Zeller: How should I know? Do you know?
Jung: I know.
Zeller asks how long it would take.
Jung: About six hundred years.
Zeller: Where do you know this from?
Jung: From dreams. From other people’s dreams and from my own. This new religion will come together as far as we can see.July 23, 2022 at 5:26 pm #74718
Here, we see the critical importance of a dynamic balance between focus on the details of local culture and the broader view of global interdependence. Both are important!”
I appreciate the tension you go on to highlight between these, which plays out on national and international stages in everything from politics and economics to health (modern medical practices / traditional healing practices), concerns over cultural appropriation in the arts, and more – conflicts inevitable as cultures collide.
Achieving a balance between the two, the local and the global, is the challenge before us – one that I’m not expecting to be resolved in my lifetime. Fortunately, political analyses are beyond the scope of these forums (as noted in the forum posting guidelines, which can be found in a dropdown menu by clicking on Guidelines and FAQ at the top of this conversation, for new arrivals who might not be aware of that). Even discussing the mythic resonances can be dicey – it’s one thing to probe and ponder mythic influences in the Roman or Aztec empires, but doing the same with contemporary issues, where we’re all carrying our own political baggage, all too often triggers unconscious complexes and can pull a conversation way off topic.
So we follow Joseph Campbell’s example of not mixing myth and politics. Though he definitely had strong views (some of which I agree with, and some I don’t), when asked about specific issues in interviews and Q & A sessions after lectures, his response was often “I don’t believe what I think would be particularly helpful right now.”
But, on the personal level, I do appreciate his guidance:
I think that in one’s political action and influences, if one can think of oneself as part of a world community without betraying the legitimate interests of one’s local neighborhood, one would be helping the world forward.” (Joseph Campbell, audio interview with E. Bouratinos for The Man and Myth Project, 1985)
Your discussion of UFOs as anticipating “a new global myth,” and what Jung sees on the horizon, so to speak, is also thought-provoking. For anyone who is intrigued, I’ll also mention your contribution to a thread on UFOs back in September (post #6286 “Jung, UFOs, and the Mundus Imaginalis”), which is worth a read.
I find such speculations about the-myth-to-come fascinating and informative, albeit speculation nonetheless, keeping in mind Campbell’s caution:
One cannot predict the next mythology any more than one can predict tonight’s dream; for a mythology is not an ideology. It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart.”
Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (Copyright © 1986, 2002 Joseph Campbell Foundation), p. xix
At the same time, I appreciate the perspective Jung shares with Zeller, which allows optimism in the long term, an aspiration humankind is moving towards, while dispelling utopian illusions about what many seem to hope is right around the corner.
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