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dream_weaver

Joseph Campbell's Monomyth

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6 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

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.

A well stated affirmation of man for the music!

As to the religious aspect, I did not state that well. Mr. Campbell had related a story about his visit with a guru in India. They had sat down, and the guru asked him if he had a question. Campbell had responded with something about divinity being in everything, what should the attitude be toward war, disease, criminals, etc., be? Should it just be accepted. The guru had replied along the lines of "For you and I, yes." As he related it, it turned out to be the first question the guru had asked his mentor.

All scripture being profitable for the various uses itemized, is along the same lines as saying all experience would in turn be profitable for as well.

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Posted (edited)

From an extraction I like to call Mr. Thompson's offer:

Mr. Thompson: "I mean that I hold the upper hand!"

John Galt: "With a gun in it?"

Mr. Thompson: "Oh, forget about guns! I—"

John Galt: "I can't forget a fact of reality, Mr. Thompson. That would be impractical."

Fast forward to page 162 of The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution from The Left: Old and New

One of these facts is the existence of nuclear weapons. If men discard "the myth of rationality," by what means will they decide whether to use these weapons, when, where and against whom?

Perhaps it is just in the light of this thread, and a couple of weeks pondering over the materials Bill Moyers elicited from Joseph Campbell, but there is a certain sense of irony in seeing Ayn Rand refer to Time Magazine on the next page as the "Time prophet."

 

Fun Fact: The Objectivism Research CD-ROM has only 16 unique references (that I noticed) to the aggregate usages of the terms "myth", "myths", and "mythology" by Ayn Rand. Leonard Peikoff was much more proliferate with his usage, so much so that I didn't take the time to quantify them.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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On 4/30/2017 at 8:54 PM, Ninth Doctor said:

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.

Off the cuff, there are plenty of preparations that one could do with regard to the latter transformation to a more dependent life. Insurance companies offer annuity plans, insurance to cover a potential need of home care or a more intensive need of a  nursing home. There are legal instruments delegating the power of attorney and medical power of attorney. These other stages are not a big mystery to those who are in focus and can draw conclusions based on their observations.

On a more blanketed approach to the latter part of your post (after the 4 functions of myth), I'd still be more interested in how deciphering what the actual, if profoundly elusive, aspect of man's existence are reduced to some element of truth. I would prefer this over compiling how Star Wars, or Lion King or even attempts at fitting elements of Atlas Shrugged to the breakdown of The Hero's Journey, or just myth in general.

When Miss Rand cites:

2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

If men discard "the myth of rationality,"

is she using the term "myth" in a similar vein to how Campbell does?

 

In The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. III, No. 26  September 23, 1974 From My "Future File" can be found:

Have you noticed the proliferation of trashy science-fiction movies dealing with the same preposterous theme: the stealthy takeover of this earth by some evil creatures from outer space, in the form of giant insects, conscious vegetables, or shapeless sponges growing at uncheckable speed? These stories are true, in the way that ancient myths were true—as an attempt of primitive men to express an inexplicable fear by projecting an emotional equivalent: by inventing some mysterious phenomenon, such as a supernatural monster, which they had no power to identify; the phenomenon was fantasy, the emotion it evoked was real.

Who, if anyone, is digging beneath the emotional equivalent to discover the source, or causal factor(s) lying at the base beyond the evoking emotion?

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

In The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. III, No. 26  September 23, 1974 From My "Future File" can be found:

Have you noticed the proliferation of trashy science-fiction movies dealing with the same preposterous theme: the stealthy takeover of this earth by some evil creatures from outer space, in the form of giant insects, conscious vegetables, or shapeless sponges growing at uncheckable speed? These stories are true, in the way that ancient myths were true—as an attempt of primitive men to express an inexplicable fear by projecting an emotional equivalent: by inventing some mysterious phenomenon, such as a supernatural monster, which they had no power to identify; the phenomenon was fantasy, the emotion it evoked was real.

Who, if anyone, is digging beneath the emotional equivalent to discover the source, or causal factor(s) lying at the base beyond the evoking emotion?

IMHO this misses the point of myth.  The Example is hypothetical and Rand likely never really studied myth or was ever introduced to Jo's insights.  I do not recall of any Myth which was generated and perpetrated merely to represent inexplicable fear.  Monsters generally represent a fear which is eventually conquered or with whom there is reconciliation or which is revealed as illusory... i.e. fear often is metaphorically presented as ultimately powerless.  Other monsters might be used to dissuade children or the unwary from engaging in dangerous conduct like leaning over a rushing river and sometimes monsters are more effective at dissuading more abstractly harmful behavior, like the wolf in cry wolf lesson about honesty, the story about honesty could have been about a magic unicorn who chooses to refrain from giving out some delightful cookie to the liar... but it would likely be markedly less effective.

11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

When Miss Rand cites:

13 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

If men discard "the myth of rationality,"

is she using the term "myth" in a similar vein to how Campbell does?

Not at all.  She is using myth here to mean something which is mistakenly believed possibly due to cultural influence, particularly, here it is used in the context of "men" of bad philosophies implicitly taking that rationality is a mistaken belief due to cultural influence and explicitly discarding it.

 

11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Off the cuff, there are plenty of preparations that one could do with regard to the latter transformation to a more dependent life. Insurance companies offer annuity plans, insurance to cover a potential need of home care or a more intensive need of a  nursing home. There are legal instruments delegating the power of attorney and medical power of attorney. These other stages are not a big mystery to those who are in focus and can draw conclusions based on their observations.

IMHO this misses 9th doctor's point.  This does nothing to address personal transformation.  You go to a lawyer, a financial adviser, or a doctor to ensure you are taken care of, all of theses are external.  In fact you don't even state that one should seek a therapist or counselor for "deterioration and death" counseling.  The implication is that it simply is not needed.  Somehow people just know how to make the personal transformation from vital flourishing adult to deteriorating and ever weaker senior.  Rand speaks much of how to become psychologically independent, how to achieve and grow... but the fact is once you pass your zenith, physically and intellectually, (this is context dependent.. some minds are more prone to this) you actually become less than what you were. Morally and experientially you may continue to grow but you deteriorate in productivity, mental acuity, memory, etc.  You come to depend on your savings (past selves) and others.  How to flourish while accepting that your trajectory is now downward toward the end of life is not as well developed in Rand's work... it simply was not its focus.  (nether is family or parenthood as far as I can tell) 

Stating, just hire some people to take of your affairs is not the answer.  Rand did provide some insight in interviews (see below)

 

11 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

On a more blanketed approach to the latter part of your post (after the 4 functions of myth), I'd still be more interested in how deciphering what the actual, if profoundly elusive, aspect of man's existence are reduced to some element of truth. I would prefer this over compiling how Star Wars, or Lion King or even attempts at fitting elements of Atlas Shrugged to the breakdown of The Hero's Journey, or just myth in general.

Myth can never teach what the mythmaker does not already explicitly or implicitly know.  In order for it to be conveyed it must have been in he who conveyed it.  As such Myth does not cause the genesis of these insights, they can only bring them forth.  Since they are also received metaphorically they are often brought forth implicitly in the mind of the recipient. I'm not sure what you are asking for... and the myths convey a myriad of messages. 

Generally speaking for adults myth's value is not in getting at what is externally observable, this we can gain through explicit learning, philosophy, science, etc.  Coming to terms with "what it is like to be human" is not purely external and deals with many aspects of the psyche.  "Rationality" is a part of each of us but it does not constitute the whole of each of us.  Coming to know and deal with and experience the rest of us is an important part o what myth does.

 

Some of the messages I like speak of "eternity" of the "one" is now, that you are more than what of nature you came from and what of nature you will return to, and answer to the question "what is the meaning of a flea?" being "it's just there" and its implication that the universe does not have a purpose or meaning for you but that only you give rise to purpose and meaning.

One of the most striking mythical revelations from Rand I have personally heard was spoken during an interview.  This has the quality of myth because it is metaphorical (not literal) and it is about the first person experience - "the world will end":

https://youtu.be/dfyEzJqEMy4?t=2m42s

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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8 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Myth can never teach what the mythmaker does not already explicitly or implicitly know.  In order for it to be conveyed it must have been in he who conveyed it.  As such Myth does not cause the genesis of these insights, they can only bring them forth.

I pick this excerpt, because it most saliently addresses the question I keep trying to return to.

I get that a myth can not teach what the mythmaker does not already explicitly or implicitly know. I strike out explicitly here because if it could be expressed explicitly, it would not be a myth. This readily incorporates that in order for [the myth] to be conveyed, [the implicit] must have been in he who conveyed [the myth.]

As such, Myth does not cause the genesis of these "insights". Rather, it would be the "insights" that are brought forth in the form of Myth.

 

Campbell pointed out several times that myths come out of trying to express the "inexpressible", which could also be to say to communicate the "incommunicable." This is where myths around symbols, such as God, are indescribable, or are beyond comprehension, or transcends the "feeble confines of language"; germinated, took root, and sprouted in the vast fields of gentlemen farmers just seeking to augment their cost of living with a self-generated vegetable garden. (pardon the metaphor for: supplement their understanding with what they perceive to be "prepackaged" wisdom and insight.)

Without the presence of seasoned agriculturalists (i.e., philosophers), the gentleman farmer is at the whim and mercy of any comer-by with advice that "sounds plausible" to him. In today's world, the gentleman farmer has been educated to take advice from anyone (including any two-bit shyster) and consider the merits of the advice simply "as advice" (take it or leave it at your own peril.)

I'd be struggling to concretize this further (without breaking form with or from the metaphor.) While I would agree that Miss Rand may not have personally consumed Joseph Campbell's writings, the ideas he was dealing with were certainly apparent in her time. She was certainly not alien to ideas encompassed in myth, she either did not choose to confront them as directly, as some of her earlier reproaches to religion, or her later softening toward religion where augmented by an identification of the source from which they arose. It would be the latter toward which she may have taken a more measured stance, considering The Romantic Manifesto was not published until 1966 (with Campbell's first book having being published in 1949.)

 

 

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Perusing a Wikipedia entry on monomyth, part of which is expressed as:

As a strong believer in the psychic unity of mankind and its poetic expression through mythology, Campbell made use of the concept to express the idea that the whole of the human race can be seen as engaged in the effort of making the world "transparent to transcendence" by showing that underneath the world of phenomena lies an eternal source which is constantly pouring its energies into this world of time, suffering, and ultimately death. To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution to which lies in the metaphors found in myths. These metaphors are statements that point beyond themselves into the transcendent. The Hero's Journey was the story of the man or woman who, through great suffering, reached an experience of the eternal source and returned with gifts powerful enough to set their society free. [bold added]

As this story spread through space and evolved through time, it was broken down into various local forms (masks), depending on the social structures and environmental pressures that existed for the culture that interpreted it. The basic structure, however, has remained relatively unchanged and can be classified using the various stages of a hero's adventure through the story, stages such as the Call to Adventure, Receiving Supernatural Aid, Meeting with the Goddess/Atonement with the Father and Return. These stages, as well as the symbols one encounters throughout the story, provide the necessary metaphors to express the spiritual truths the story is trying to convey. Metaphor for Campbell, in contrast with comparisons which make use of the word like, pretend to a literal interpretation of what they are referring to, as in the sentence "Jesus is the Son of God" rather than "the relationship of man to God is like that of a son to a father".[30] For example, according to Campbell, the Genesis myth from the Bible ought not be taken as a literal description of historical events happening in our current understanding of time and space, but as a metaphor for the rise of man's cognitive consciousness as it evolved from a prior animal state,[citation needed] though David Watson and others reject this view.[31] [bold added]

[Bold isolated]

"To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution to which lies in the metaphors found in myths."

"These stages, as well as the symbols one encounters throughout the story, provide the necessary metaphors to express the spiritual truths the story is trying to convey."

The primacy of existence lends credence to the things that existed before and beyond words. The symbols one encounters throughout the myth are words. Conceptual consciousness uses such symbols (words) as the means of retaining the distilled product of the process of identification. Note that the necessary metaphors are not for conveying the spiritual truth, the metaphors are for merely expressing what they are trying to convey.

Rand, by her own pen at the end of page 33 in ITOE chapter 4 on Concepts of Consciousness wrote: "(By "spiritual" I mean "pertaining to consciousness" . . .)" Is spiritual truth then to be universally acclaimed as "truths pertaining to consciousness"? Is, then, a metaphor simply a stage in a conceptual breakdown, or perhaps a step in a reduction of a broader theme—or just perhaps a vague clue indicating a potential avenue down ones own personally selfish pursuit?

The alleged solution to a "seemingly impossible task" is thus masked in the metaphors found in myths. Is this a solution, or another metaphoric rendering of a further disguise of Gaia?

Perhaps the riddle is further ensconced in one of the many steps outlined by Joseph Campbell of the hero's journey? Did he possess nature's enigma machine? Did he use the device to decrypt the myths, and then use it once again to encrypt the results he got? Hearken back to the symbols. Keep in mind Rand's exhortation and admonishment to continually make the distinction between the metaphysical versus the man-made. Keep also in mind her recognition that many of the myths are distorted, dramatized allegories based on some element of truth.

 

I think the value of Campbell's works lies primarily in his assemblage the myths. His similarities and differences may offer clues to their deciphering, but I suspect this is secondary, at best.

 

 

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