Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

dream_weaver

Joseph Campbell's Monomyth

Rate this topic

82 posts in this topic

21 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

In Philosophy: Who Needs It, Miss Rand writes:

The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power.

Is it philosophy or myth from which such power is derived? While story often proceed explanation, causal relationship only exist between an entity and its actions.

To elevate myth as a subject worthy of study, what does it need be held subordinate to, or what need be held subordinate to it?

 

I gather you are invoking Rand's view that philosophy drives history.  Note that she regarded religion as a primitive form of philosophy.  And religion is, of course, a subset of myth. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If you find that reflecting upon Myth does not serve as useful to you, in the context of your life, in the acts of introspection and reflecting upon who and what you are, your relationship to the universe and others, finding your center and deciding what life means to you, why you choose to live and whether you choose to and how best to live fully, by all means stop investigating Myth completely.  Values are contextual and if you personally gain no value from Myth you should not pursue it.  IMHO

 

I have to take issue with you here, though I share the sentiment that one shouldn't waste time on things that don't resonate, or study subjects just because others say they're important. 

Think of the study of myth as an essential part of any dispassionate anthropological study.  To pursue philosophy you have to study Man, even the elements you believe ought to be tossed in the trash.  Myth is ubiquitous in history and in the present.  What does that tell us about our species?  If myths don't resonate with you, wouldn't that mean you're an outlier?  It would probably be a good idea to understand why, and come to terms with the implications. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

My 2 cents:

I do tend to look for the literal true. The metaphoric has always been a mystery to me.

1 minute ago, Ninth Doctor said:

I gather you are invoking Rand's view that philosophy drives history.  Note that she regarded religion as a primitive form of philosophy.  And religion is, of course, a subset of myth. 

Episode 2: The Message of the Myth

I thought this episode resonated well with the notion Rand put forward in chapter 1 of The Romantic Manifesto.

Observe that every religion has a mythology—a dramatized concretization of its moral code embodied in the figures of men who are its ultimate product.

To Ninth Doctor: the first two lines are spot on. The last line, in light of the quote, places mythology as a subset of religion. She had also stated elsewhere that art was an adjunct of religion (and at times, it held a monopoly on it.) This bears well with StrictlyLogical's repeated stressing of the fact that that Myth is not philosophy.

It is art. This is a distinction that (even though it has been read many times) takes on a new relevance.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Ninth Doctor said:

I have to take issue with you here, though I share the sentiment that one shouldn't waste time on things that don't resonate, or study subjects just because others say they're important. 

Think of the study of myth as an essential part of any dispassionate anthropological study.  To pursue philosophy you have to study Man, even the elements you believe ought to be tossed in the trash.  Myth is ubiquitous in history and in the present.  What does that tell us about our species?  If myths don't resonate with you, wouldn't that mean you're an outlier?  It would probably be a good idea to understand why, and come to terms with the implications. 

Yes, I suppose you are correct.  Someone once wrote that the proper study of mankind is man ... nothing is more interesting or complex and myths are as revealing as a running transcript of a patient's sessions with a psychologist.

DW

I find it particularly ironic that you state the metaphorical eludes you... your allusions often confound me as thickly symbolic!

I sincerely hope you enjoy this little excursion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Yes, I suppose you are correct.  Someone once wrote that the proper study of mankind is man ... nothing is more interesting or complex and myths are as revealing as a running transcript of a patient's sessions with a psychologist.

DW

I find it particularly ironic that you state the metaphorical eludes you... your allusions often confound me as thickly symbolic!

I sincerely hope you enjoy this little excursion.

[M]yths are as revealing as a running transcript of a patient's sessions with a psychologist.

How poetically apropos!

As to my allusions utilizing metaphor; keep in mind, metaphor is much easier to encode than it is to decipher.

When it comes to an entire transcript, you cited essentially, that the patient is man (stating: nothing is more interesting or complex) while taking a step toward (an infinite regress) employing the psychologist (which is not an exception of/to man) to provide the revelations.

This little excursion, thus far, has had its moments ranging from—Rearden's expression to his secretary Gwen: "I think I'm discovering a new continent" to the more melodramatic description of Cherryl's  "spot of a distant headlight advancing upon her down an invisible track."

What the next moments will unveil remains yet to be seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

When it comes to an entire transcript, you cited essentially, that the patient is man (stating: nothing is more interesting or complex) while taking a step toward (an infinite regress) employing the psychologist (which is not an exception of/to man) to provide the revelations.

You will often hear that, as opposed to providing or attempting to provide "the answers", a good psychologist is often nothing but a facilitator and a mirror.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/24/2017 at 8:32 PM, Ninth Doctor said:

Myth is ubiquitous in history and in the present.  What does that tell us about our species?  If myths don't resonate with you, wouldn't that mean you're an outlier?  It would probably be a good idea to understand why, and come to terms with the implications. 

I want to expand on this a bit, to counter an implication.  I’m not saying religion is here to stay since a dispassionate examination of all cultures points to its presence and influence everywhere and at all times.  There’s another institution that featured in (probably) all cultures until just over a hundred years ago: slavery.  If four hundred years ago one had argued that slavery should be abolished, or even could be abolished, there was a real uphill climb facing anyone making the case.  It was only four hundred years ago that the first Christian sect (Quakers) arose that consistently opposed slavery, this flying in the face of a few New Testament lines from St. Paul and Jesus.   And now it’s gone.  There were philosophical arguments in its favor, and they’re in history’s trash can.  It took a couple hundred years or so.  It may turn out the same for religion; not in my lifetime so I’ll never know. 

And myth is actually another matter, even though it subsumes religion.  Why?  Look to the functions of myth, ask whether they’re essential, and if so, how else they can be served.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, Ninth Doctor said:

And myth is actually another matter, even though it subsumes religion.  Why?  Look to the functions of myth, ask whether they’re essential, and if so, how else they can be served.

All a Myth is, at any moment in time, is a story.  In terms of its perfectly individual and personal relationship to one who contemplates it. 

Of course, it has certain contexts... family, village, religion/culture, color the delivery and interpretation of the story.  Knowing that a story has been told and retold for hundreds or thousands of years has an effect on how you experience it.  Reading something with your brothers and sisters curled up with Mom and Dad by the fire likely elicits something different from a story you pull from your pocket to read at dusk out behind the shed (because you are not supposed to be reading it...), and each of those is different from a story told at a village gathering among people you know, and a story told at the Citadel among a throng of strangers.  All of these contextual accoutrements to the reception in any one or repeated instance of a story has a psychological effect, but I believe the content is more powerful than the delivery.

Delivery is paramount for acceptance.  I think certain stories, no matter how important once absorbed, simply are impeded by a mind unwilling to hear if the context is wrong.  Of course people vary in degree of narrow or broad, closed or open mindedness, and degrees of rebelliousness.  One boy might ignore a story told by a family friend but listen when told that story by a teacher, another would gloss over with boredom should the teacher try to tell it, while listening with excited rapture if the local ruffian were to speak it.  That said, once there is a mode of reception, it all comes down to the substance of the story.

What about the substance of the story makes a story a Myth?  This is no easy question for me.  I think it comes down to function rather than the clothing in which it is enrobed.  Although Jo talks of many functions I think the most important one is how to live life, i.e. psychological health and psychological development.  But can't we simply learn directly how to live?

This is the rub.  I think it is reasonable to say that you can teach anyone anything, but to best and most directly teach something, sometimes different approaches are necessary.  Learning Math is different from learning to bake a pie, or ride a bike, or paint an oil painting.  Some subjects are more or less abstract, some are more or less concrete action based, some require thinking, others practice, almost all require experience.

Learning to ride a bike requires hours of practice, learning to live, potentially (and sometimes literally) requires a lifetime.  Your 4 year old is happy to put in the time to learn to ride a bike, but NOBODY should settle for waiting a lifetime to learn how to live the life you have already spent.

How do you teach something as broad, abstract, concrete, and experiential as what life is and how to live it to a child/adolescent/young man or woman ?  OF course we have education, parents "tell" their kids what to do, explain consequences... but this is tantamount to "telling" a 4 year old how to ride a bike, before they get on it, explaining to someone how to make dough for a pie without their ever having seen felt or kneaded dough.  Stories, and particularly Myth because of their metaphorical nature are stories which are purposefully more directly focused upon the psyche, the subconscious, the vast ground of mind which underlays and has a profound affect on all you do or attempt to do (having trouble quitting smoking, procrastinating, keeping to your diet or exercising?... you consciously "decided" to be perfect, isn't that just the end of the matter?... "perfect people" reading this notwithstanding... the rest of us know it is not that simple).

Myth and story told and retold set up in the mind the way experiences do.  Its like a direct way to teach your child how to ride his bike without ever riding it... so Myth and story can help a young person know and experience life (vicariously) to a point where they have some tools... they still have to live a real life and gain actual experience but they are ahead in the game.

How can this intersect with what we know as fact from Objectivism?

 Philosophy is not "for" intellectuals, it is for individuals, BUT children and adolescents, even some young adults are not developed enough to fully understand it, and really most people do not have time to study and to fully understand a philosophy.  There is an operating level of knowledge or intuition about the proper philosophy that will serve a person at every age of development and this usually is less than complete understanding and yet more than what can be literally conceptually conveyed at that age.  Living life requires an understanding of so many things.  Being guided by an objective morality whose standard is life long range, and living in society according to the principle of non-initiation of harm and individual rights, the system of capitalism... these are very abstract and complicated subjects which no child could grasp literally.. they simply do not have the conceptual framework built up.

Art (which likely has a close relationship to Myth) is crucial as we all know.  But its role is more enforcement of what is already implicitly known... a man sees his own metaphysics brought forth and concretized, there is resonance which reinforces his sense of life and provides fuel to live it. 

Reinforcement and resonance is not instruction and teaching... which I think myth and story can provide.  In fact I think this is already provided by children's literature and Disney movies, which serve as myth.  To some lesser degree, some pop culture attempts to teach rather than resonate as well... the lessons of these of course might be wrong.

 

So is there a place for Myth in a proper Objectivist society?

Of course there is.  The stories would teach, through metaphor, things such as the primacy of existence, consciousness is identification, a thing is itself, the standard of morality is life, the virtues of rationality, honesty, independence, etc, politics, etc.  The metaphor could be as fanciful as you like, as long as it is not taken as literal.  A story with dragons or traffic cops aliens or cow boys could be just as effective as long as the devices used are appropriate to what is being taught, i.e. if the device is best suited to directly get at the subconscious and get across the message.  Such stories would resonant in children and youngsters and to the degree possible be reinforced with literal and conceptual teaching as these kids mature.

 

In a book written by John C. Wright prior to his psychotic break with reality, the protagonist is plunged into the sea, what follows is a near death experience, a conversation with a God like intelligence, a self-assessment involving redaction of various artificial mental augmentations, a transformation back into what this character is as his essentials...  and eventually a re emergence... this IS the journey into belly of the whale, a sojourn into and return from the subconscious, the act of his going under IS the act of his introspection (metaphorically)... although here the sequence is not fully connotative not 100% metaphorical (since he actually does literally introspect while under the water) nonetheless it is still effective.

 

Conclusion:  Any story, written or told now or in future, when it is the kind of story crafted and having the right kind of effect and function, do not just serve as Myth, they ARE Myth, albeit of a specific species.  It may be there is a concept which subsumed Myth as we know it... and some would propose a new word for it... but I believe it is better to define Myth a broadly serving the function it does...

A complement to Art, Myth is a device for psychological health and development achieved through a medium primarily metaphorical. 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
dream_weaver and DonAthos like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Francisco: I wonder if we'll ever be put into songs or tales.

John: [turns around] What?

Francisco: I wonder if people will ever say, 'Let's hear about John Galt and the strikers.' And they'll say 'Yes, that's one of my favorite stories. John was really persuasive, wasn't he, Dad?' 'Yes, my boy, he pulled the strike off. And that's saying a lot.'

John: [continue walking] You've left out one of the chief characters - Francisco the Playboy. I want to hear more about Francisco. [stops and turns to Francisco]

John: John wouldn't have got far without Francisco.

Francisco: Now Mr. Galt, you shouldn't make fun; I was being serious.

John: So was I. [they continue to walk]

Galadrial, of The Lord of the Rings, is narrating at the beginning of the movie with an elaboration that was both about, and containing the wording "History became legend. Legend became myth."

Mythology, at least in my life, was read behind the woodshed. We lived near some cousins. Visits were exchanged regularly, and the bookshelf upstairs contained a great many volumes (Penguin Classics?) of Greek Mythology. It allowed for a surreptitious augmentation of my Protestant upbringing. By the time I could read them, I knew better than to raise such questions as might arise from them.

Even with the brief tip of the hat that Miss Rand gives toward mythology, it has always been relegated in my mind with a religious underscoring scribed below it.

"Observe that every religion has a mythology". All S is P. All religion is has a mythology. She is pretty precise in her selection of terms and order of phraseology. This cannot be converted to: All mythology is religion derived.

While most of what Campbell brings to the table is from religions all across the globe, his dip into Star Wars serving as a mythologically friendly tool, was nicely offset with some of his thoughts on the Japanese Shinto, contrasted with the Western view of the world. To paraphrase it in O'ist terminology, Shinto is essential metaphysically benign, more or less a benevolent universe premise. The West tends to hold existence in a more malevolent view. Only God is perfect, this does not get commuted to existence in the west as it does in the east.

Miss Rand, the quote started two paragraphs ago, went on to say: "a dramatized concretization of its moral code embodied in the figures of men who are its ultimate product."

I remember Aesop's fables being a part of my childhood. Many of them used animals in an anthropomorphic way to communicate various moral percepts. The i.e., fox that jumped for the grapes repeatedly, but could not leap that high, wandering off muttering "They're probably sour anyway." as his rationalization.

Some of the childhood wonders have at least two distinct variations to them. Consider the tale of Chicken Little and "who will help me plant the corn?"

Does it matter if you indoctrinate children with the one ending where the end product is kept just for those that invested the effort, vs the ending where the end product was redistributed into a less than satisfactory meal for even those who did not?

 

The moral prong is two fold. The philosophic underpinnings of the creator of the myth is one of those prongs. The philosophic underpinnings of the consumer constitutes, in this case, the other.

 

What you put forth, StriclyLogical, is a tough act to follow. None the less, there are a few tendrils that could shoot forth and seek any suitable support within the environment available. Your considerations have augmented my somewhat more narrower view of mythology here. 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the function of a true myth is to teach, whereas employing the structure of Campbell's monomyth to 'punch up' a story and make it profitable does not make the story a myth.  A literary analysis of Star Wars (the original story of 1977) might be able to extract a theme from it but it does not leave an impression of having taught anything.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I would think myth's function would be akin to the basic purpose of art; not to teach, but to show. (At least if it is to be efficacious as myth.)

 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

I would think myth's function would be akin to the basic purpose of art; not to teach, but to show. (At least if it is to be efficacious as myth.)

 

Are you focusing on the method, "show versus tell" or on substance "old versus new".  Presenting the new or different is in one sense necessarily teaching isn't it?  Especially for a child or young adult who has not yet had the experiences conveyed by the myth...?

Also Rand's theory of aesthetics seems to place art's subject squarely on a sense of life general metaphysics doesn't it?  If so, art could be more specific and limited than myth which has free reign to introspect on the psyche.  Doesn't this point to myth being similar to yet different from and complimenting art?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Are you focusing on the method, "show versus tell" or on substance "old versus new".  Presenting the new or different is in one sense necessarily teaching isn't it?  Especially for a child or young adult who has not yet had the experiences conveyed by the myth...?

Is seeing something (or hearing something) for the first time considered to be 'teaching'?

29 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Also Rand's theory of aesthetics seems to place art's subject squarely on a sense of life general metaphysics doesn't it?  If so, art could be more specific and limited than myth which has free reign to introspect on the psyche.  Doesn't this point to myth being similar to yet different from and complimenting art?

I was looking at this paragraph from The Romantic Manifest earlier.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a work of art (including literature) is that it serves no practical, material end, but is an end in itself; it serves no purpose other than contemplation—and the pleasure of that contemplation is so intense, so deeply personal that a man experiences it as a self-sufficient, self-justifying primary and, often, resists or resents any suggestion to analyze it: the suggestion, to him, has the quality of an attack on his identity, on his deepest, essential self.

The introspection—or contemplation, as extolled in this passage—is more of a form of learning from what is presented.

More literally, it is not the myth that is doing the actual introspection on the psyche. It is the individual that is using myth as a tool, turning it inward, and analyzing his own identity with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still thinking about it myself but myth and art are not the same.  Determining the differences I suppose is not simple.  I hope you enjoy the process.

cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Is seeing something (or hearing something) for the first time considered to be 'teaching'?

I think the answer to that must be yes.  During my time as a patent examiner, it was standard terminology when referencing prior art and older patents that an author or inventor 'teaches' or 'taught' in the book, article or patent disclosure being referenced.  That is a legal context, but it can also be used in strictly academic contexts, such as that Rand teaches an original theory in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, or that Darwin taught an original theory in The Origin of Species, and so on with any discoverer or inventor.  Of course most teaching is done by teachers who are not the inventors or or discoverers of their subject matter, it is merely novel to the students.

Some showing also results in teaching if what is shown is novel.

Switching topics a bit, I think the conceptual category goes as art > literature > myth because myths are a type of narrative.

17 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

any suggestion to analyze it: the suggestion, to him, has the quality of an attack on his identity, on his deepest, essential self.

I can't follow Rand here.  One can't properly value something without understanding it as fully as possible, and understanding something as fully as possible requires some explicit conceptual analysis.  She only claims this happens 'often' not always so it is a non-essential attribute.  I go beyond plain 'value' to 'properly value', which is the cause of my difference here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Ok Grames, I'll cede. Only to add that it has been claimed by many a teacher, it is via the act of teaching that the teacher gains the additional opportunity of learning. And it is the student that has to perform the act of learning, as the teaching isn't simply absorbed by osmosis.

Perhaps there's a better way to wordsmith it, though Miss Rand is usually pretty astute with hers.

 

Could the suggestion having the quality of an attack be to those reluctant to discover their true nature and identity, esp. in today's culture? The type of individual you describe is not reluctant, but embraces such an approach, recognizing the emotional minefield the path leads through.

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Could the suggestion having the quality of an attack be to those reluctant to discover their true nature and identity, esp. in today's culture? The type of individual you describe is not reluctant, but embraces such an approach, recognizing the emotional minefield the path leads through.

Everyone finds it psychologically difficult to confront internal contradictions, and if one goes around examining everything willy-nilly something painful might be revealed.  For a "man of the masses" representative of a culture of mixed premises many things are dangerous if analyzed closely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

On 4/28/2017 at 4:47 PM, Grames said:

Switching topics a bit, I think the conceptual category goes as art > literature > myth because myths are a type of narrative.

 

On 4/28/2017 at 4:28 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

I'm still thinking about it myself but myth and art are not the same.  Determining the differences I suppose is not simple.

As I continue to press forward with the PBS documentary, it is clear to me that art that serves as the broadest conceptual category. Art, in turn, has subdivisions within it such as painting, literature, sculpture. Two other categories Rand uses to evaluate art were "romanticism" and "naturalism".

Mythology is expressed utilizing painting, literature, and sculpture. It is tempting to suggest myth is an augmentation of "romanticism" and "naturalism", but it defies being a hybrid thereof as well as defying being a third category unto its own. A possible exception would be that "romanticism" is how man ought to be, given free will; while "naturalism" is a description of simply what things are; with "mythology" being an expression serving to illustrate how both "romanticism" and "naturalism" came to be. I don't find this latter, as expressed, satisfying.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

What do you take to be Rand's definition of Art?  What is it's function? What qualifies as art (of any kind) and what does not qualify?  If according to Objectivism art is broad, some myths insofar as they fall within it, will qualify as art. Insofar as Objectivism's definition of what art is and does is narrow, much of myth because of what it is and does simply does not correspond, will simply be something that reminds one of art or appears similar but which is not and does not  serve as art. And that's ok!  Decoration IS decoration it has its own function and value, and you may find much of it beautiful!

7 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

with "mythology" being an expression serving to illustrate how both "romanticism" and "naturalism" came to be. I don't find this latter, as expressed, satisfying.

An analysis of what art is is completely independent from an identification of myths and what they are.  You are correct that what you state is unsatisfying.  It is IMHO because the attempt at categorization has oppressed or distorted that which is being categorized.  That definition largely misses by a vast margin what myth is and does. Categorization, analysis, identification cannot change what it is attempting to categorize it can only decide what does or does not fall within well formulated categories.  If you feel through the process of categorization you've somehow distorted or ignored something about that which you are dealing with you've made an error.  

If something don't fit, don't worry the something is fine it just does not fit.  Don't try to make it be what it isn't so it does fit. Make new categories or live with having to identify something as part A or sometimes A but also part B or sometimes B.  Myth is what it is and does what it does regardless of our progress (or lack thereof) of our conceptualization or integration of it within the rest of the conceptual framework.

Depending of what art is and its function much of Myth might simply not serve as art.  You can still find something besutiful and valuable even if it doesn't serve as art. And that's perfectly OK. 

I think you might be obsessing over whether myth is art.  At this stage maybe determining for yourself first what myth is and does would be more useful.  Once confident you have identified and understood what you are dealing with on its own terms, then you can see where it fits. 

sorry for the ramble.  I hope it's helpful.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
DonAthos and dream_weaver like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I think you might be obsessing over whether myth is art.  At this stage maybe determining for yourself first what myth is and does would be more useful.  Once confident you have identified and understood what you are dealing with on its own terms, then you can see where it fits.

And I think you're right. If the square peg fits in the round hole, it is only because the hypotenuses of the diagonals of the square are the same as the diameter of the hole. Those who are perpetuating the myths are exploiting the art(s) to do so. While this is not an identification of what myth's identity is, it should be a step in the right direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Those who are perpetuating the myths are exploiting the art(s) to do so. While this is not an identification of what myth's identity is, it should be a step in the right direction.

I’d say Myth spawns Art.  It’s a crucial element in how Myth is communicated.  But Myth also spawns Ritual, and you couldn’t say that Art does that.  They’re different concepts, with a lot of overlap in their referents.

Let’s move on to enumerating Campell’s four functions of Myth.  I’m pulling these from Occidental Mythology:

“The first and most distinctive – vitalizing all – is that of eliciting and supporting a sense of awe before the mystery of being."

“The second function of mythology is to render a cosmology, an image of the universe that will support and be supported by this sense of awe before the mystery of a presence and the presence of a mystery.”

“A third function of mythology is to support the current social order, to integrate the individual organically with his group; and here again, in the long view, we see that a gradual amplification of the scope and content of the group has been the characteristic sign of man’s advance from the early tribal cluster to the modern post-Alexandrian concept of a single world-society.”

“The fourth function of mythology is to initiate the individual into the order of realities of his own psyche, guiding him toward his own spiritual enrichment and realization.”

There’s a whole lot here.  I was thinking of using The Lion King to draw illustative examples from (particularly for functions 3 and 4), and now that I’m typing I find it a headache-inducing task.  For a Sunday night.  BTW The Lion King was crafted by a group of screenwriters who were given a “Monomyth How-To” guide drawn from Campbell’s ideas. 

Under functions 3 and 4 comes something vital: myths provide the metaphors to inform the great transitions we all go through in life.  Often via Art, often via Ritual, or both.  What are these transitions?  We start out like any other mammal, utterly dependent on our mothers.  Then we start to individuate, and after quite a few years (and stages) we’re ready to be fully independent.  Then we find a mate, procreate, and have to focus much of our energies on caring for our own offspring.  Then they go off to college.  And hopefully don’t move back in afterwards for an extra decade of remedial nurturing, but if they do, we have to deal with it.  Then we retire, our health fails, and we go back to being dependent.  And finally die.  Each of these stages calls for a transformation of consciousness.  And there are Myths to inform each stage, and the richer the Mythology, the more stages are covered.

Digression: IMO Rand’s stories are especially good at informing the later stages of the transition from dependence to independence.  But don’t do much for any of the other stages.   

To be continued.

StrictlyLogical likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

37 minutes ago, Ninth Doctor said:

I’d say Myth spawns Art.  It’s a crucial element in how Myth is communicated.  But Myth also spawns Ritual, and you couldn’t say that Art does that.  They’re different concepts, with a lot of overlap in their referents.

Before augmenting this with Campbell four functions of myth, slow the thought processor down a bit in favor of some greater precision.

5 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Those who are perpetuating the myths are exploiting the art(s) to do so.

The individuals who perpetuate myth(s) are exploiting (a.k.a. a variant of utilizing) art, as a vehicle of transmission. It is not the myth that spawns the ritual, as that could be seen as a reification of myth. The individuals spawning (or perpetuating) the myths may augment them with rituals (dance, creating a flower arrangement that is nearly indistinguishable from how nature might present it, etc.) I would agree that is not something a work of art does. Nor would a myth, without relying on what those who propagate myths rely on.

 

Added as an aside:
Here, a story is combined with both music and dance (although the dance is not in this particular clip):

The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
Stones on its way . . .

 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

41 minutes ago, Ninth Doctor said:

Under functions 3 and 4 comes something vital: myths provide the metaphors to inform the great transitions we all go through in life. 

Let’s take the transition to parentage.  What metaphor might inform and strengthen the natural impulse to regard a baby as the greatest miracle ever?  The Christmas story.  The savior of the world is delivered into your hands to nurture.  That’s how the metaphor works.  And you’re going to celebrate this every year, it’s part of the church calendar.  Good thing too: fact is that baby is going to drive you nuts, between diapers and wailing in the night.  The Lion King does well with this also, the whole story being bookended with the presentation of a newborn to universal acclaim (rather like the adoration of the Magi).

It’s interesting, however, that the Christmas story wasn’t composed to serve this purpose; that evolved later, in the 4th century.  It was originally shoe-horned in to liken Jesus to Moses, hence the flight into Egypt (and subsequent return).  The early Christians weren’t having babies, at least not if they were taking St. Paul’s advice.  "Such signs cannot be invented.  They are found.  Whereupon they function of themselves".

Edited by Ninth Doctor
formatting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The series is finished, as well the first part of the bonus materials (a two-part interview that appears to have been done earlier between Moyers and Campbell.) The notion of the virgin birth being used to convey the notion of a transformation from the 'animal self' to the 'human self' was mentioned more than once. Several of his allusions were indicative of a sense of individualism and egoism, as indicated, where he is "right" it comes across as pretty good. Where he deviates from that "path" it can be instructive.

I must add here, that this is reminiscent to me of 2nd Timothy 3:16 where it says: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

In "The Masks of God" the chaotic trickster god as contrasted with the others, or the disruptive buddah with its counterpart, seem to be unified into the western notion of God. Jehovah or Yahweh try to integrate the constructive and destructive aspects into the same being.

From some incomplete further thought on the subject:

The letters materialized on the screen in tempo with the broken rhythm of sound of the buttons being pressed on this all too familiar keyboard. First a sentence appeared, a pause, and then, as if satisfied with the construction thus far, this first paragraph is to concluded with a dot to the lower right corner of its last word.

How to relate to the symbols referenced here have been automatized long ago. They require thought in order to imagine or recollect a world where these marks held no more significance than a mere curiosity which could just be simply and readily examined. The inner voice quietly reads the material provided by your senses, articulating the words in your mind, while your mind evaluates the merit of the thoughts being expressed.

An analogy in Atlas Shrugged uses the example of a child who knows that he is playing a game, holds a book open and spells out anything he wishes to spell, pretending that it is contained in the incomprehensible black lines, prior to having learned how to read. (pg. 767)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

The series is finished, as well the first part of the bonus materials (a two-part interview that appears to have been done earlier between Moyers and Campbell.) The notion of the virgin birth being used to convey the notion of a transformation from the 'animal self' to the 'human self' was mentioned more than once. Several of his allusions were indicative of a sense of individualism and egoism, as indicated, where he is "right" it comes across as pretty good. Where he deviates from that "path" it can be instructive.

I must add here, that this is reminiscent to me of 2nd Timothy 3:16 where it says: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

In "The Masks of God" the chaotic trickster god as contrasted with the others, or the disruptive buddah with its counterpart, seem to be unified into the western notion of God. Jehovah or Yahweh try to integrate the constructive and destructive aspects into the same being.

From some incomplete further thought on the subject:

The letters materialized on the screen in tempo with the broken rhythm of sound of the buttons being pressed on this all too familiar keyboard. First a sentence appeared, a pause, and then, as if satisfied with the construction thus far, this first paragraph is to concluded with a dot to the lower right corner of its last word.

How to relate to the symbols referenced here have been automatized long ago. They require thought in order to imagine or recollect a world where these marks held no more significance than a mere curiosity which could just be simply and readily examined. The inner voice quietly reads the material provided by your senses, articulating the words in your mind, while your mind evaluates the merit of the thoughts being expressed.

An analogy in Atlas Shrugged uses the example of a child who knows that he is playing a game, holds a book open and spells out anything he wishes to spell, pretending that it is contained in the incomprehensible black lines, prior to having learned how to read. (pg. 767)

I thought I'd just add a few thoughts here since the subject of religion has come up.

There was a time during which I was no longer religious, when I would hear some of the most beautiful "religious" music, I would feel a sort of pang of resistance and rejection... the implicit thought being "they sing of a God which does not exist".  The music sounded like faces uplifted to God and a triumphant celebration of the greatest good and works... on an emotional level it was wonderful but it clashed with my knowledge.

Over time, I have come to realize that my resistance and rejection of the music was akin to an infantile rebelliousness and moreover one which was entirely illusory.  I realized that the internal dialogue to the dead God: "You no longer ARE in my mind, you no longer ARE in my spirit, I don't respond to YOU or your music any longer.  I do not naively gush to music to your glory." was misguided.  The God ever was only in my mind... there is no one and no thing to psychologically rebel from.  The music itself... is not tainted by God... it cannot be tainted by him because he isn't and never was.  Suddenly the music became for me, what it is... music that was composed by the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived, composed in the absolute faith and conviction of their souls for the purpose of creating the most beautiful music they could possibly create.  The music was not literally inspired by an omnipotent power, it was literally composed by man using the greatest of all of his efforts, and it does, in that achievement alone speak to the glory and beauty of life and man.

I now marvel not at the God who still emerges in my psyche when I hear the music (as a worn out child's thing ever dwindling in my memory), but marvel at the mastery and limitlessness of the achievement of man, and man's capacity to love life enough to thank his Maker for that gift, with such sincerity and perfection through his music.

I know that the music was misdirected, but that is of no matter to me and does not affect the fact of what it is and what does for me. The fact is that the music has as its origin truths of life and of man which I respond to.  Nothing else in reality need account for what it is and does for me, and nothing else needs to.

 

Myths were and are always created and/or incrementally tweaked by individual people.  Each story and every change had to emerge in the mind of one who told it (or told it slightly differently), and each had to be uttered or written for the first time.  Each was informed by implicit and explicit ideas about the universe, life, and man, and each was (to the extent they were not fraudsters, which always pop up in every field from time to time) grasping at things, with the utmost extent of their minds and spirits, things about which they were very seriously and solemn. 

It goes without saying that given the nature of myth and the ideas it propagates and the ability for error, we need to think about what it is that we take from them as valid and valuable.

In those ideas of Myth which have endured, which have served cultures well, which have helped people live and make the transitions which are a part of life, for all the errors and mistakes, there are valuable and beautiful lessons, which have as their origin truths of life and man.  We need not rebel from the gods or false philosophies they invariably will speak of, we need only hear the whispers of truth latent in the symbols and motifs communicated by the words spoken.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.