February 12, 2021 at 6:19 am #73743
James, my dad and my grandmother before him both suffered from enlarged hearts. I thought of this because of the quote you mentioned about how symbols contain meanings that can dilate the heart when surpassing the brain. I would agree. My dad lived a life heavily immersed in symbols and mathematics and in translating the math into real architecture/buildings when figuring construction plans and also loved folklore and folk music and was so into religious symbols in his spirituality. This reminds me about how the symbols in language can sometimes fit the myth in our lives and vice-versa. So often we feel in symbols as much as we think in symbols.February 12, 2021 at 6:25 am #73742
I enjoyed the joy in your response, and also thank you for the book recommendation, The Geese of Beaver Bog. It sounds like something I would very much like to read. One of my favorites is The Snow Goose by Paul Galico. It is a book Galico wrote based upon a legend. Thank you!
–MarianneFebruary 12, 2021 at 6:42 am #73741
Thank you R3 for the image of the water bird–be it gander/goose, or duck, it is beautiful.
I do want to add that some academics are artists as well as academics and some artists are academics as well as artists! Some academics may appreciate a pun whether artists or philosophers! Also, I appreciated and enjoyed the information you included here about Hamsa, Miriam, and Fatima–thank you! Very interesting also to those who are enchanted by palm readers and palm reading–it is not really just reading the palm but reading the hand–including the five fingers and for some, the wrist.
–MarianneFebruary 12, 2021 at 7:04 am #73740
Stephen, thank you for your kind and wonderful response to my response. I love how you wrote that you write to find meaning. That sounds like s simple statement but I find it profound. It turns writing into an adventure of discovery instead of a duller study of what a person or writer might already know and express–much like that sorting out and ordering of the soul regarding the museum writer’s article. I also sure loved hearing about you being once in possession of Campbell’s journals for a while when you to transport them–that sound so marvelous as in its root word of an actual “marvel,” something to marvel at! I look forward to the new book coming out that you are editing! I love the Campbell quote you include–about the two types of writing, not good or good, and then his remarkably wonderful definition of the Muses: “The Muses are the personifications of the energies of that unconscious system that you touch when you sit down as a writer. You just have to find them.” So pro-found! Thank you for all this. I am loving this thread. Very inspirational!
–MarianneFebruary 12, 2021 at 10:25 pm #73739
Campbell’s words sing – and not just his prose. The titles all have a poetic quality. What a fine introduction to the rest of the article. Lifting up the singing and the poetic quality those are themes that have undergirded a career for me.
Back in college (that was the late 50’s for me, I read an article by Bishop James Pike that you help me recall. Pike wrote: “There are several phrases in the Creeds that I cannot affirm as literal prose sentences, but I can certainly sing them.” Of the Creed, he says: “Sing it.” “Because it affirms the things basically important and true, in poetic terms (more than poetic – mythological).”
It would be years before I discovered Campbell. That would add a whole new dimension for me. Glad to be part of your band! (Strange, is it not, that when I ‘go to church’ these days, I find myself in Pike’s old church in San Francisco?)February 13, 2021 at 7:04 am #73738
There has been so much such rich material from everyone posted in this thread at present it would be hard to cover all of it with the proper attention each deserves. But Mary brings up something I think may be particularly relevant to us all in some form or another; and that is what we as individuals are imprinted with concerning social imperatives; or put another way not only the value systems that are handed down; but the things that are asked of us that we strive for without realizing it. In other words what are the things we strive to attain in finding our place within the society we live in? Or what are the “activating symbols” we inherit as opposed to the ones that the heart responds to? Here I think lies part of the clues or pathway into discovering our own individual mythology.
“My dad lived a life heavily immersed in symbols and mathematics and in translating the math into real architecture/buildings when figuring construction plans and also loved folklore and folk music and was so into religious symbols in his spirituality. This reminds me about how the symbols in language can sometimes fit the myth in our lives and vice-versa. So often we feel in symbols as much as we think in symbols.”
I was thinking about how our society as well as our family influence steers us from childhood on into directions we as individuals may not actually be interested in following but we do so anyway subconsciously because it is the accepted norms that everyone else follows. I was thinking about a dream I had the other night where the word: “mantle” stood out as something important that I should look up. Well; after several unsuccessful attempts to find the definition I was looking for the one below finally appeared in the Cambridge dictionary:
“mantle noun (RESPONSIBILITY)
[ S ] formal
the responsibilities of an important position or job, especially as given from the person who had the job to the person who replaces them:
She unsuccessfully attempted to assume the mantle of the presidency.
He has been asked to take on the mantle of managing director in the New York office.”
I then realized this was the sort of thing people go to school to find and achieve a career from and raise a family with because it’s a socially imprinted norm. Now this may compliment something to which the heart on certain occasions may respond to or not given a particular set of “planned” circumstances; but it does not necessarily include the: “dimension of mystery or chance” because it is an “assumed” life path of choice; and one’s life does not always unfold in that kind of specific planned way.
So this brings us back to what symbols represent within finding and following what has meaning to any particular individual; and not a socially agreed upon symbol that represents nothing to the human heart of a specific individual; this represents the personal myth he is talking about. Dennis Patrick Slattery’s book: “Riting Myth, Mythic Writing – Plotting Your Personal Story” approaches this challenge in multiple ways; each exploring various dimensions of the human psyche which this extremely good clip I posted recently in another thread describes here.
(As an example of what he is describing he offers the symbol of the “Spiral” and what I might think of could be: “the Labyrinth and the Ariadne thread” that leads one in and out of the confrontation with one’s inner Minotaur or perhaps to the healing of one’s inner wounded child. Lots of different ways to think about symbols and how to use them. This is just a suggestion because this book is extremely helpful in exploring one’s inner landscape.)February 13, 2021 at 6:05 pm #73737Stephen GerringerKeymaster
Thanks for bringing up Bishop Pike – I haven’t thought about him in years! James Pike and his fellow Episcopalian priest, Alan Watts (who resigned from the clergy in 1950, his Anglican past eclipsed in the public memory by his role as an interpreter/advocate of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism) were bold innovators, introducing elements of dancing, singing, and elements from other traditions into the services they led.
I live 90 miles east of San Francisco. Grace Cathedral (which I assume is the church you reference) holds a special place in my heart.February 19, 2021 at 7:54 am #73736
I just want to respond with how much your response here meant to me–it is perfect for me at this moment. I feel like I need nothing more than this thought to get me through my day tomorrow. When I have questions or try to complicate things, when things start to take on a “blue hue” I can come here and read this Mythblast and this response of yours.
MarianneFebruary 19, 2021 at 8:02 am #73735
There is much I could associate here with your search for a certain meaning of “mantle” that I hope I mention here in this thread later. For now I just want to mention how much I enjoyed your story on your search for meaning, of mantle! And so glad you found it! It is very interesting the way you sought to use it and found it. Thanks for sharing it!
“The difference between almost the right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” –Mark Twain
They are both beautiful, both striking in their own way, though–what could we say here about impact or different types of impact of words and language?
MarianneFebruary 19, 2021 at 7:37 pm #73734Stephen GerringerKeymaster
In another thread, James mentioned his delight that Joseph Campbell had named his car “The Gander” – which brings us back to the question that forms the title of the MythBlast essay this conversation references:
What’s in a name?
Just yesterday a Nasa spacecraft used a crane to lower the rover Perseverance to the surface of Mars. Eight years ago my wife and I were rapt in suspense as we monitored the perilous descent of the Mars rover Curiosity – so naturally yesterday I viewed this landing at my desk on my laptop screen, as did my wife from her office at work. No surprise we shared the jubilation of the scientists and engineers in Mission Control as Perseverance touched down and broadcast its first image. I texted to my wife how impressed and vested I was in the event – and she texted back
I know. I think it is giving them a name that makes them feel real”
That struck a chord.
Some years ago Daniel Bianchetta (a brilliant photographer with a passion for petroglyphs), long associated with the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, shared that the indigenous Esselen who lived for centuries in close proximity to the hot springs there had given a name to every tree on the property (not to mention large rocks)! I can’t imagine even counting all the trees there, much less naming them – but this makes so much sense. Trees did not come and go as quickly as people: the lifetime of most trees spanned multiple generations of humans – they were old souls, and old friends, part of each person’s life from first breath to last.
Knowing someone’s name creates a sense of, well, intimacy, changing the one named from an “It” to a “Thou,” to borrow Martin Buber’s terms, conferring a sense of interiority. This may strike our contemporaries as odd when it comes to what we are conditioned today to think of as objects – which, from the Cartesian perspective of empirical science, may seem little more than magical thinking.
And maybe it is; on one level, no doubt the relationship the Esselen had to the trees was simply a projection of the collective imagination – but that sense of personhood a name conveys meant trees are not simply objects to be uprooted and replaced during a landscaping project: one just doesn’t cut down and kill a tree person to improve one’s view.
Rather than treating nature as an object to be altered according to human whim and need, the accent was on living in harmony with nature.
What’s more, science has led the way in recent decades to understanding “the secret life of plants” (e.g. the work of biologist Rupert Sheldrake, or anthropologist Jeremy Narby’s Intelligence in Nature, which presents evidence that independent intelligence is not unique to humanity, with bacteria, plants, animals, and other forms of nonhuman life displaying an uncanny penchant for self-deterministic decisions, patterns, and actions).
But what about inanimate objects that don’t meet the biological definition of life? Isn’t that just silly magical thinking left over from childhood?
Again, maybe. After all, dolls and toys (or cars, for that matter) aren’t alive; any sense of an interior life is simply a projection we make. And yet, the need to name seems a universal human trait.
When I was a child I had my favorite toys, the ones I wanted to play with all the time – but, fairly regularly, I’d dig through the toy box and pull out toys to play with I really didn’t care for that much, because I didn’t want them to feel sad and abandoned (a childhood emotion Pixar taps into with their Toy Story film series). Can’t say I ever really got past that; even today, I have three favorite coffee mugs – one I drink from during the week, the other two on alternate weekends – but at least once very couple weeks I root around the back of the cupboard and pull out one of many cups I’m not fond of at all, just because I don’t want to hurt their feelings (which says more about me than the cup, as I project a sense of interiority onto these objects).
And I name everything, or so it seems. My Nissan Murano is named Sophie; my wife’s little Ford Escort is Katie; we call our Deik robo-vacuum Hazel (after the maid played by Shirley Booth in the black-and-white television sit-com we both watched as children); our printer is called Hermes, and even our Navigator pool sweep is named Henry (after Prince Henry the Navigator, son and brother to kings of Portugal, who was a driving force behind the Age of Exploration). The practical effect of such fancies is that these items are, from my perspective, imbued with soul; inanimate objects they may technically be, but a “Thou” rather than an “It” to me – and so I find myself going the extra mile to extend their lives. Over the years I have been advised to discard our pool sweep and upgrade, advice I would follow if I thought of it as nothing but a tool – but I just can’t arbitrarily do that to Henry, so we repair him and forge on.
This may be why I was so enamored of novelist Tom Robbins, whose characters include not just humans, but cigarette packages, spoons, and other “inanimate” objects with an animated interior life. No surprise that Jitterbug Perfume, my favorite Robbins novel, was written after he returned from a trip to Chichén-Itza in the Yucatan and elsewhere in Mexico with one Joseph Campbell.
So I am not surprised Joe named his little red VW bug “The Gander.”February 19, 2021 at 8:05 pm #73733
Everyone; I simply cannot over emphasize how much I love Stephen’s articulation of this area we have been discussing in relation to the larger topic. This along with the pictures that have been added really open up this intimate connection of the personal to the larger realms Joseph describes. It’s like he is right here with us. Stephen; this is truly such a wonderfully inspired post; thank you!February 19, 2021 at 8:14 pm #73732
Mary; if you’ll allow me I think Stephen addressed your deeply poignant response so better than I possibly could. This conversation is just delightful to experience and so many contributions with such meaningful connections is just a joy to behold. Wow!
(This reminds me to something Michael Toms used to referring to when talking with Joseph. He said: “we were just soaring!”) Pjh1 mentioned Joseph’s words “sing”; well there seems to be a very nice chorus in play at the moment!February 20, 2021 at 1:53 pm #73731R³Participant
Who is Philemon?
Philemon is named for a figure that appeared to Jung in a dream in 1913. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung recounted the dream in which this figure first appeared to him. Jung saw a sea-blue sky covered by brown clods of earth that appeared to be breaking apart. Out of the blue, he saw an old man with kingfisher wings and the horns of a bull flying across the sky, carrying a bunch of keys.
masc. proper name, in Greek mythology a pious man, husband of Baucis; from Greek philemon, literally “loving, affectionate,” from philein “to love” (see philo-).
From Ancient Greek Φιλήμων (Philḗmōn), from φιλήμων (philḗmōn, “kindly, affectionate”), from φιλέω (philéō, “I love”).
Question: “Who was Philemon in the Bible?”
Answer: Philemon was a first-century Christian and a slave owner who also hosted a church in his home, most likely in Colossae. His name means “affectionate” in Greek, and, from all we know about Philemon, he lived up to his name. Paul had led Philemon to faith on one of his visits to Asia Minor and had stayed in Philemon’s home when in that region. The only mention of Philemon in the Bible is in the book by that name. The book of Philemon is a personal letter from the apostle Paul to his friend Philemon whom he calls a “dear friend and fellow worker” (Philemon 1:1).
In the book of Philemon, Paul appeals to his friend on behalf of a runaway slave named Onesimus. Onesimus had somehow connected with Paul, who was imprisoned in Rome. Onesimus became a believer, but, because he was the property of Philemon, Paul sent him back to his owner with a letter.
What sources do you think Jung’s and the apostles Paul’s subconscious unconscious draw from ???February 20, 2021 at 7:43 pm #73730
I am going to repeat James, “I simply cannot over emphasize how much I love Stephen’s articulation of this area we have been discussing in relation to the larger topic. This along with the pictures that have been added really open up this intimate connection of the personal to the larger realms Joseph describes. It’s like he is right here with us. Stephen; this is truly such a wonderfully inspired post; thank you!”
But am compelled to add what went straight to the heart, “Second, I wanted to offer a glimpse into how Campbell approached symbols as more than just words on a page. He thought of a mythic symbol as “an energy-evoking and -directing agent” generating a response that “bypasses the brain and dilates the heart.” That energy-evoking directing agent which bypasses the brain is simply divine.
ShaahaydaFebruary 20, 2021 at 8:40 pm #73729
Indeed Shaheda; that one grabbed me too:
Second, I wanted to offer a glimpse into how Campbell approached symbols as more than just words on a page. He thought of a mythic symbol as “an energy-evoking and -directing agent” generating a response that “bypasses the brain and dilates the heart.” As but one example among many, whether a playful nickname for his car or a paperweight he kept on his desk, the image of the gander works on the unconscious as well as consciousness.
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