3. Conceptual Worlds & Mythological Theories + Clips
3. Jung - Conscious
3. Jung - Unconscious / Dream
3. Campbell - Common Day
3. Campbell - Belly of Whale - Star Wars
3. Nietzsche - Thou Shalt - Lego Movie
3. Nietzsche - Lion
3. Marx - Status Quo
3. Marx - Revolution
3. Eliade - Profane - Never Ending Story
3. Eliade - Sacred
3. Hegel - Outer World + Innermost Spirit
Now that we’ve looked at some of the basic qualities of the known and other world, let’s take it a rung deeper and get into some mythological theories. You’re going to be learning about these theories all semester, so don’t worry if you don’t catch everything. I like to be repetitive. So the next time you hear it, you’ll be like, oh, yeah, I kinda remember that. Then again, and again, until you’re a master.
So let’s start with…
The World We Know is that of the living, that of the waking, that of the here, now and illuminated. We do not know death. We cannot see in the dark. And dreams are not of this world. We live on earth. We have material bodies – We are very familiar with normality, which is why, to us, the unknown is mysterious. The veiled is sexy—and scary! What is the afterlife? What are dreams? What’s going on in the dark? What’s happening on the other side of the world? What’s going on in space? What happened in ancient history? What’s to come in the distant future? These are the destinations of great adventures—the unknown, always the unknown—the frontier.
3. Nietzsche - Thou Shalt Text
Thou Shalt: "Thou Shalt," is what great dragon is called…sparkling with gold - a beast covered with scales; and on every scale glitters a golden, "Thou Shalt!" The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales, and thus speaks the mightiest of all dragons: "All the values of all things - glitter on me. All values have already been created, and all created values - do I represent. Truly, there shall be no 'I will' any more. Thus speaks the dragon” (Nietzsche, Zarathustra 24).
Status Quo & Accumulation of Norms: In this famous passage from Nietzsche’s work, he describes status quo as an accumulation of past norms that stifles the freedom of a new individual. At the beginning of stories, the world is typically in this form—stilted and dried out by old norms and customs that no longer serve culture or creative life. Such stasis, such boring normality, is, at the same time, lifelessness, motionlessness, soullessness. This is a wasteland.
Slaying Monster of Status Quo: Campbell picks up on Nietzsche’s work, which was picked up by Stanley Kubric, who used the song, Thus Sprake Zarathustra, in 2001. “The mythological hero is the champion not of things become but of things becoming; the dragon to be slain by him is precisely the monster of the status quo: Holdfast, the keeper of the past. From obscurity the hero emerges, but the enemy is great and conspicuous in the seat of power; he is enemy, dragon, tyrant, because he turns to his own advantage the authority of his position. He is Holdfast not because he keeps the past but because he keeps” (Campbell 289).
3. Jung - Text
Collective Belief as Stifling to Individuality: Jung engages the topic of status quo and the stifling of individuality in his work, The Undiscovered Self. He writes. “the patient should have acquired enough certainty of judgment to enable him to act on his own insight and decision and not from the mere wish to copy convention – even if he happens to agree with collective opinion. Unless he stands firmly on his own feet, the so-called objective values profit him nothing, since they then only serve as a substitute for character and so help to suppress his individuality. Naturally, society has an indisputable right to protect itself against arrant subjectivisms, but, in so far as society itself is composed of de-individualized persons, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individualists. Let it band together into groups and organizations as much as it likes – it
is just this banding together and the resultant extinction of the individual personality that makes it succumb so readily to a dictator. A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but the fatally shortsighted habit of our age is to think only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would think that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman. Unfortunately, this realization does not seem to have penetrated very far – and the individual’s understanding of himself our blindness in this respect is extremely dangerous. People go on blithely organizing and believing in the sovereign remedy of mass action, without the least consciousness of the fact that the most powerful organizations can be maintained only by the greatest ruthlessness of their leaders and the cheapest of slogans” (Jung, Undiscovered 39).
Individual Leaders of Collective Belief: Where Jung looks at the threats of collective consciousness to individuality, Hegel (a 19th century philosopher) gives attention to what happens when an individual comes to personify a growing collective vision for the future. He writes, it is “an unconscious impulse that [occasions] the accomplishment of that for which the time [is] ripe. Such [is the case with] all great historical men whose own particular aims involve those large issues which are the will of the World−Spirit. They may be called Heroes, inasmuch as they have derived their purposes and their vocation, not from the calm, regular course of things, sanctioned by the existing order; but from a concealed fount--one which has not attained to phenomenal, present existence, but from that inner Spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which, impinging on the outer world as on a shell, bursts it in pieces, because it is another kernel than that which belonged to the shell in question. They are men, therefore, who appear to draw the impulse of their life from themselves; and whose deeds have produced a condition of things and a complex of historical relations which appear to be only their interest, and their work…They [are] thinking men, who [have] an insight into the requirements of the time [that are] ripe for development…That Spirit which [takes a] fresh step in history is the inmost soul of all individuals; but in a state of unconsciousness which the great men in question aroused. Their fellows, therefore, follow these soul−leaders; for they feel the irresistible power of their own inner Spirit thus embodied” (33-34, Philosophy of History, Hegel)
Hero as Defeater of Status Quo Guardian: According to Campbell, “The work of the incarnation [the hero] is to refute by his presence the pretensions of the tyrant ogre” who champions and defends the status quo—the known world of common day (Campbell 300). “The figure of the tyrant-monster [Thou Shalt] is known to the mythologies, folk traditions, legends, and even nightmares of the world; and his characteristics are everywhere essentially the same. He is the hoarder of the general benefit. He is the monster avid for the greedy rights of "my and mine." The havoc wrought by him is described in mythology and fairy tale as being universal throughout his domain. This may be no more than his household, his own tortured psyche, or the lives that he blights with the touch of his friendship and assistance; or it may amount to the extent of his civilization. The inflated ego of the tyrant is a curse to himself and his world-no matter how his affairs may seem to prosper. "Self-terrorized, fear-haunted, alert at every hand to meet and battle back the anticipated aggressions of his environment, which are primarily the reflections of the uncontrollable impulses to acquisition within himself, the giant of self-achieved independence is the world's messenger of disaster, even though, in his mind, he may entertain himself with humane intentions. Wherever he sets his hand there is a cry (if not from the housetops, then-more miserably-within every heart); a cry for the redeeming hero, the carrier of the shining blade, whose blow, whose touch, whose existence, will liberate the land” (Campbell 11).
Hero as Connection with Past for Purpose of Future: To Campbell, the hero’s role is to carry the past into the present for the purpose of the future. To make an analogy, there was once a theory that the growing up of children reflected a memory of human evolution—so we would go through a stage as water creatures (sperm) and grow/evolve towards humanity in our childhood. I don’t think this theory holds a lot of water, but it’s a perfect analogy. To go through a new heroic journey that will change the world and renew its relationship with the depths, the hero must first become familiar with the great revolutions that have brought the world to present. As Evans Smith would say, the underworld is a granary of treasure and a storehouse of memory. One of the great accomplishments of heroes is to raid the underworld and return with memories that serve the present. For example, in Hindu myth, in a time of peril, a dive was orchestrated. The purpose of this dive was to retrieve items from a civilization that had fallen beneath the waves. These objects were needed in their own time. Campbell writes, “the modern hero deed must be that of questing to bring to light again the lost Atlantis of the co-ordinated soul” (Campbell 334).
Hero as Reuniter with Divine Source Isolated from Status Quo: “The supreme hero, however, is not the one who merely continues the dynamics of the cosmogonic round, but he who reopens the eye-so that through all the comings and goings, delights and agonies of the world panorama, the One Presence will be seen again. This requires a deeper wisdom than the other, and results in a pattern not of action but of significant representation” (Campbell 296). “The hero's first task is to experience consciously the antecedent stages of the cosmogonic cycle; to break back through the epochs of emanation. His second, then, is to return from that abyss to the plane of contemporary life, there to serve as a human transformer of demiurgic potentials” (Campbell 276).
As Campbell explained, part of the essential recovery of the hero is the actual link or bridge with the divine. When Prometheus steals fire, it isn’t just knowledge, this is the fire through which sacrifices are sent to the divine. This is the fire the connects every settlement to the divine hearth of the hub-city. As the fire connects mortals to the divine, Campbell calls for a reconnection of the conscious psyche with its deeper and unconscious qualities. He writes, “today no meaning is in the group none in the world: all is in the individual. But there the meaning is absolutely unconscious. One does not know toward what one moves. One does not know by what one is propelled. The lines of communication between the conscious and the unconscious zones of the human psyche have all been cut, and we have been split in two” (Campbell 334).