I do not appreciate your dismissal of Joseph Campbell as a Johnny-come-lately of "inventing [the] idea [of the monomyth]." Where was it expounded upon before? The recognition of the story that is all stories is, granted, easily dismissed. It is the same as the bullet-pointy dillio (forgive me for not knowing the name of the sports show that spawned a million sidebars) that is now a feature of most every show that countenances a grouping of events, only in reverse. That is to say, Campbell's insight into the fundamental archetype or frame of reference for any story, real or imagined, is dismissed here in a way that flat bothers me.
Don't get me wrong. I read your blog as regularly as any. This despite the fact that, having met you, you are a complete asshole (the fact that we share that attribute notwithstanding).
Barring any indication whatsoever that you have any sort of overarching ethos or paradigm or whathaveyou to which you ascribe your existence, to so blithely shit on a fundamental part of my own bugs me. Full disclosure-wise, having not had the wherewithal to pursue my own PhD as you have in order to illustrate my own [fundamentally utilizing Campbell's work], I have as many legs to stand on as Max Cleland.
In the end, I suppose what I'm getting at is, you are cheaply trading on Campbell's name and work to illustrate a point without fully grasping the fact that the events most current are well-illustrated within the context of Campbell's work. McCain is an incomplete hodgepodge of the hero, whereas Obama is still on his journey. It is the very incompleteness of that journey, and is encouragement for others to join him, that is so appealing to those not deadened to the possibility that the world is not in a sense ending with each following moment of despair, defeat, and slippage.
All the same, having quite the Obama campaign after he failed utterly to stand up for the cause of accountability re: the FISA bill, I was still stirred by the end of his infomercial this evening. If nothing else, it will be refreshing for an individual with the wherewithal to understand the full array of policy issues and problems currently facing the US to have the power to put in place others with the expertise and desire to work toward solutions to the myriad problems we face.
I don't believe I understand your criticism. It appears to have been written in response to a post mocking and disregarding Joseph Campbell, which is not exactly what I wrote.
Campbell's theories are heavily rooted, of his own admission, in the ideas of Jung. Most of his implied understanding of psychological responses to the Monomyth are transplanted in full from Jungian theory. This is OK. This is what people do when they write about their own ideas.
That Campbell did not devise his most well-known theory off of a blank slate is both a fact and hardly an insult. As I said, he applied concepts from other fields to the study of mythology in a way that was new and insightful. I consider the subsequent 60 years of work in the study of folklore/mythology, much of it devoted to trashing Campbell in favor of "particularism", to be utter shit.
In short, I really like Joseph Campbell. I'm not sure what gave you the opposite impression.
First: happy birthday! I am exercising the female prerogative of prioritizing the personal, and will spend ten minutes in feminist time-out later in the day. My gift to you.
Second: have you seen "The Man From Hope"? Another great modern retelling, although he was not a reluctant leader.
Third: isn't there a segment of the pop who prefers elder statesmen to heroes? More Merlin than Arthur, wielding the power granted by age, experience, and a background of wealth, privilege, and superior education?
Fourth: more Jungian analysis of Palin, please! I've heard her compared to Lilith, by her fans and her foes. Is she a misunderstood feminist, resented for her lustiness and for usurping male power? Or is she a spoiler, intent on destruction and the downfall of the party? (Only her hairdresser knows for sure.)
Last: excellent post. Much of politics in the democratic world is marketing, which can't be done well without awareness of symbols, types, and myths. I've only been thinking about this with regard to the anti-Obama spam I receive at work all day, in which he is dressed-up a terrorist, an imam, a witch-doctor, etc. Oooh, I saw Obama in a turban! He must be evil! But this imagery is working on someone….
We currently have the Village Idiot/Wise Old Man combo. How's that working??
I nominate ladiesbane for Comment of the Week, and second her request for more Jungian analysis of Palin.
I'm very much intrigued by the idea of campaigns positioning their candidates as avatars of the Jung/Campbell archetypal hero, although I'm now having visions of a Cheney-Obama "Luke, I am your father" moment. (…yeah, that's probably in bad taste.)
Ed, would you add The Godfather to the list of stories drawing on the Monomyth? Or is a retelling of the traditional fairytale (where the king has three sons and the youngest succeeds on the quest/completes the impossible task and inherits the kingdom) not quite the same thing? Is there a special subcategory for the Hero becoming or replacing the authority figure he has fought for (or against), or is it implicit in the original myth? (Hello, Taran Wanderer!)
Palin has been the subject of a lot of archetyping. To a lot of far-right voters, she's been positioned as the Mother, the principled and fecund example of virtuous womanhood (she has tard! and four normals!). We voters are supposed to go to her to be nurtured and comforted in these troubled times.
Now that the campaign is going to shit, the McCain/Romney people are painting her as the Siren or Temptress – she lured us in with her beauty and charm, then destroyed us in service of her own motives and masters.
It's unfortunate for the GOP that these matters are not *entirely* psychological. Half of it is personality-driven and half of it is about competence. I think they could have successfully sold her personality if she showed even an iota of competence.
I second ladiesbane's felicitations, Hequit's nomination of ladiesbane's comment for "Comment of the Week," and Ed's assertion that Palin is monstrously incompetent.
1. Happy Happy Birthday Ed!
2. I pathetically third the praise for ladiesbane this week.
3. "Palin is intended to appeal to the classic Jungian ‘MILF’ archetype"….excellent.
happy birthday fellow scorpio! mine was tuesday.
and, by the way, i *love* that you are an asshole.
Happy Birthday. (Awkward formalities are my specialty!)
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