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  • Where is Ariadne when you need her? I lost my thread a while back. I want to say thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on my post and everyone else’s. A very thoughtful exchange of ideas. Thanks.

    It has been said that heroes are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This points out, to me, to the relational nature of the heroic act. Without a circumstance, there is no hero. The individual or ego alone is never the hero, nor initiates, motivates or is the source of the quest. In fact, it could be argued that the individual has to break out of the ego shell before he/she becomes the hero. This is what the initial resistance to the call describes, in my view. The ego does not want to go there. The call to the heroic quest comes to the individual not from the ego but from a dimension that transcends it. That is why, when accepted, it is transformative.

    Thank you, Stephen, for your insightful perspective into the Hero image. Your essay helps me understand better both the hero and Joseph Campbell. I can see that the hero is not about the individual and his deeds. It is about the individual in relation to the community that he/she serves. Emphasis in relation and in service. Without a community, there is no hero. It is the community that validates the hero. Which brings me to a better understanding as to why Joseph Campbell never completed his doctoral degree. His hero quest was not for an academic community. His community was broader, as the letters you mention indicate. Thank you.

    in reply to: The Sacredness of Rituals,” by Kristina Dryža” #74838

    When I read the first part of the quote, (“Individualism is perfectly fine if the individual realizes that the grandeur of his being is that of representing something,”… ) I had the feeling that, at that moment, Campbell refrained himself from completing his thought. When I read the rest of the quote (“Even representing a system of ideals and images that the rest of the world and the environment doesn’t have; he still is the agent of something and he is a presence. But when the individual is acting only for himself or for his family or for his team, then you have nothing but chaos.”) I realized that he hadn’t.
    His first complete thought should have read: “Individualism is perfectly fine if the individual realizes that the grandeur of his being is that of representing something”…(other than himself). Which, of course, is an oxymoron. And would not have been very popular then or now. Smart man.

    Joseph Campbell once said that if you want to change the world, change the metaphor. Bounderies do not separate; they connect. That one works for me. Thank you, Bradley, Stephen and everyone else for the stimulating conversation and wonderful insights.

    Blurred bounderies, blurry vision and fussy reality. Interesting stuff. It makes me think of quantum mechanics. Maybe it is the nature of bounderies, if they are true to nature, to be fussy. Maybe it is the fussiness what makes them bounderies. Bounderies between clearly defined edges. And now I think of the dual reality of light, which after a long scientific tantrum period, we have been forced to finally accept. Which it goes to show, by the way, that the surest bet is always reality, not theory. It appears that between the well defined and understood light wave and the well defined an understood particle (the photon) sits a fussy and incomprehensible wave function, which we may think of as a boundery. It would appear, then, that nature, at its most fundamental level, uses bounderies as transitions. Not divisions. No gaps. If that is the case, the only reality that separation has is in our heads, as a conceptual and psychological reality. But I don’t want to chase that idea any further.

    How do we explain the QAnon, New Age and the scientific thinking phenomena? I would agree with Bradley that in all these cases the individuals in each camp truly believe in their own reality. But this does not make sense to us rational thinkers. Isn’t there only one true reality? Unless we get rid of the quantum dimension of fuzzy transitions and quantum collapses, I am afraid, the answer is no. If we choose to believe that the QAnon reality cannot become an experiential reality for the rest of us, we might be up for a surprise. We can understand all three phenomena (rationality, irrationality and religiosity) as quantum collapses at the society level. Nature is true at all levels. Further separation is not the answer to the problem. We need to borrow a page from nature, get out of our conceptual and psychological separation wagon, which some may argue is but an illusion (but with teeth) and begin to bridge bounderies.

    Bradley, synchronicity has it that this morning, before I read your essay, I was thinking about bounderies and separation. It occurred to me that a distinction can be made between the two. A boundery can be crossed; whereas a separation, cannot. Or to put it in another way, a separation that can be crossed becomes a boundery. A boundery does not imply separation. A separation implies a rupture, a breaking off. It has a permanent quality to it. Anyone who has gone through a divorce understands this. This distinction seems to me to have profound existential relevance. Our myths of creation, whether religious or scientific, speak of a beginning that starts with a separation. Between chaos and order, darkness and light, a big bang or a primordial cell separating from its watery environment by means of a fatty membrane. I wonder how different would the narrative be if instead of speaking of separation we spoke simply of bounderies? Would it help alleviate some of our existential angst? Would it make a difference if we accepted bounderies as existential and organic reality and separation as a conceptual and psychological phenomenon? In other words, nature sets boundaries but does not separate us. It is we humans that insist in separating.

    Let me jump in the conversation and share a few thoughts about the difficulties in describing consciousness, mind and soul.

    You’re not alone. For centuries, maybe millennia, philosophers, theologians and all kind of thinkers have wrestle with the same problem. I suggest you first examine your own assumptions, conceptions and preconceptions about them. If you think that you do not have any, what it means is that they have become hidden. Find them and bring them to the surface.

    I think there are two perspectives from which one can describe consciousness, mind and soul. One is as emergent phenomena. That is, they are biologically based. Matter is first. You can research the scientific literature supporting this assumption. The other assumption is that they are not emergent but fundamental. There is also literature in support of this assumption but not in the field of objective science.

    My suggestion is not to mix the two perspectives to avoid confusion. They are both valid. I think Campbell understood both. Maybe he had a preference for one. It might be interesting to explore that.

    in reply to: Mythology is psychology misread.”” #72705

    Hello, Stephen and Johanna,

    I didn’t mean to abandon the conversation in my post. I got distracted doing other things for a while. I would like to reinsert myself in the dialogue with the following reflection:

    We all experience psychologically. I would say that alll human experiences are psychological experiences, if I am allowed to make one grandiose statement. The human psychology and experiences of the past are still available to us, but in a different modality of experience: mythological. If we think about it, what we humans experience, and our modes of behavior have not change since the inception of man in nature. This is the context in which I understand the following statements found in the article linked above:

    ‘Myths are “the archetypal model of all creations, no matter of the plan which they relate to: biological, psychological, spiritual. The main function of the myth is that of establishing exemplar models in all the important human actions”.
    Mircea Eliade’

    “This point of view agrees with that of the psychologists Rudica and Costea (2003, p.8): “all great mythological creations describe, at the level of common psychological sense, the entire dramaturgy of our inner life”.

    “Therefore, we can understand better the diversity of dimensions ancient Greek myths have:
    literary (the expedition of the Argonauts)
    historic (The Trojan War)
    esoteric (the orphic mysteries)
    initiatory (the voyage of Ulysses)
    moral (Daedal and Icar)
    psychological (the story of Oedipus)
    philosophic (the legend of cosmogony)
    social (the ages of humanity)”

    When we speak of a new mythology, we should ask ourselves: Is man capable of new experiences, and I do not mean new ways of experiencing love, suffering, cruelty, injustice and so forth, but a new psychological human experience, and are we capable of new modes of behavior, ways in which we have not behaved before that have not being mythologised already? Can we add something new to our collective mythological human biography, history and cosmology, to its gigantic reference library. That is how I understand Eliade’s description of myths as patterns that serve as models for human behavior and that can help us integrate biological, psychological and spiritually.

    Joseph Campbell describes four functions of mythology (Copied from an Internet source).

    “1.  The Metaphysical function serves to awaken the consciousness of its consumers to a reality lying just beyond the veil of normal perception.”

    “2.  The second function of mythology is the Cosmological.  The Cosmological function provides the boundary conditions of the universe, explaining the origins, shape, size, location, and birth and death dates of things such as time, space, matter, energy, biological organisms, and the universe as a whole.”

    “3.  The third function of mythology is the Sociological, dealing with validating the order and ideas of a culture.  Myth can provide a model of social behavior that, when adhered to, makes for a not-so-squeeky cog in the great machine.”

    “4.  The Pedagogical function of mythology serves the psychological sphere of human existence.  By establishing rites of passage into critical stages of life, from dependency to maturity, old age, and finally death, myth provides guideposts and beacons to serve as a reminder that there is a purpose.”

    Notice that the four functions reference the past. Mythology is not about describing or inventing the new. It seems to me that mythology is about adaptation, not discovery. Maybe the question we should ask is not what will the new mythology be, but in what new ways can we engage mytholoy to allow it to fulfill its four functions. And this is a round about way of also addressing your question, Stephen, about the shift in our culture from written text to films.

    in reply to: Mythology is psychology misread.”” #72710

    Thank you, Stephen, for you comment. My gosh, I started with Shirley MacLaine’s “Out on a Limb” in the early 1980s., then, not in that order necessarily, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky’s “The Fourth Way”, The Essene Gospels, Edgar Cayce, Buddhism, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Sufism, sprinkled with my mystic Christian tradition and other stuff. The Power of Myth got me hooked on Campbell and mythology. Then I started reading Jung’s work. More recently I have read some of James Hillman’s ideas. Lately, though, I have become more interested in my own reflections, synthesis and experiences. I have a great deal of respect for the Masters, but at some point one has to let go of their hands and walk, guided by their wisdom still, but now more so by one’s own experinces, insights and intuitions. After all, that is what they did.

    My reflection on Campbell’s insight is like changing the metaphor a little bit. For me that perspective, opens a new dimension for exploration. Maybe it is a thing with men, when we reach certain age, we try to make sense of it all. Oh, well. It is fun, however.

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