Mythic art of today - recommendations

Discussion of Joseph Campbell's work with an emphasis on the personal creative impulse as well as the sociological role of the artist in today's global community.

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Martin_Weyers
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thinking about the problem, how mythology can be re-created in an appropriate contemporary way, it may help, not only to learn about the mythic images of the past, but also to have a look on the works of today's artists.



Do you know a piece of music, a painting, a movie, a poem,... that deals with mythic symbols, and that you found to be inspiring? Please, share your experience with us!



(It may also be allowed, to reply with some of your own poems, or to post a link, that leads to your website.)
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

... and that's the way it works:



My recommendation is:



Philip Glass: Symphony No. 5 - Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaya



The 100-minutes work is a musical interpretation of several excerpts from different "wisdom traditions". So it doesn't represent a contemporary mythology, but by musical interpretation of the message of several mythic traditions, it can be seen as a try to re-invent the symbols of myth.



This symphonic work for five soloists, an 80-person mixed chorus, a 40-member children's choir and orchestra was written for the Salzburg Festival in 1999 and, in the words of the composer, was meant as "a compendium of reflection on the process of global transformation and evolution". Glass characterizes the different text sources, that together made the libretto, as "5.000 years of human meditation on eternity".



The symphony begins "Before the Creation" with excerpts from "The Rig Veda":



There was neither non-existence nor existence then;

there was neither realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.

What stirred? Where? In whose protection?

Was there water, bottomlessly deep?



There was neither death nor immortality [then].

There was no [distinguishing] sign of night nor of day.

That One breathed, windless, by Its own impulse.

Other than that there was nothing beyond.



Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning;

with no [distinguishing] sign, all this was water.

The life force that was covered with emptiness,

That One arose through the power of heat.



Desire came upon That One in the beginning;

that was the first seed of mind.

Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom found

the bond of existence in non-existence.



Their cord was extended across.

Was there below? Was there above?

There were seed-placers; there were powers.

There was impulse beneath; there was giving-forth above.




It ends with "Dedication of Merit" (from "Bodhicaryãvatãra"):



May I be a protector for those without one

And a lamp for those desiring light,

[May I be] a bridge, a boat, a ship

For all who wish to cross the water.

(...)




The parts between content excerpts from Genesis, The Qur'an, The Kumulipo, The Popul Vuh, The Bhagavad Gitã, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Poems by Rumi, ...



I had the fortune to enjoy the world premiere at Austria's Salzburg festival in 1999. Mark Swed wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "It is a glorious, inspiring work, and the rapt, dignified audience that filled the Large Festival Hall just about went crazy." And that's the way it was. - So it may be an appropriate instrument for the popularization of myth.



(Note: Symphony No. 5 - Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaya is available in a very nice designed 2 CD-box.)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2002-07-05 15:03 ]</font>
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Post by Manuel_Otto » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I would like to add...


The Faces at Braga



In monastery darkness

by the light of one flashlight

the old shrine room waits in silence.

While above the door

we see the terrible figure,

fierce eyes demanding. "Will you step through?"

And the old monk leads us,

bent back nudging blackness

prayer beads in the hand that beckons.



We light the butter lamps

and bow, eyes blinking in the

pungent smoke, look up without a word,

see faces in meditation,

a hundred faces carved above,

eye lines wrinkled in the hand held light.



Such love in solid wood!

Taken from the hillsides and carved in silence

they have the vibrant stillness of those who made them.

Engulfed by the past

they have been neglected, but through

smoke and darkness they are like flowers

we have seen growing

through the dust of eroded slopes,

their slowly opening faces turned toward the mountain.

Carved in devotion

their eyes have softened through age

and their mouths curve through delight of the carvers hand.



If only our own faces

would allow the invisible carver's hand

to bring the deep grain of love to the surface.

If only we knew

as the carver knew, how the flaws

in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

we would smile too

and not need faces immobilized

by fear and the weight of things undone.



When we fight with our failing

we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself

and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.

And as we fight

our eyes are hooded with grief

and our mouths are dry with pain.



If only we could give ourselves

to the blows of the carvers hands,

the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers

feeding the sea

where voices meet, praising the features

of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.



Our faces would fall away

until we, growing younger toward death

every day, would gather all our flaws in celebration

to merge with them perfectly,

impossibly, wedded to our essence,

full of silence from the carvers hands.




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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Manny,

I tried to get some information about David Whyte. The internet book stores do not offer a translation of his poems. In the german bookstores I did only find a german edition of the "golfer's guide" by David J. Whyte. I think this must be another author with the same name ...



But I found a description of Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work and the Shaping of Identity. I feel, this must be the "right" David Whyte. Am I right?

The description coincides very well with the first commandment of Saint Joe, that is "follow your bliss":
Our greatest opportunity for discovery and growth is in the thing we most often want to get away from: our work. It's where people spend the majority of their time, and it's where many spend much of it wishing they were somewhere else, doing something else. And it's where people often spend their time not being present, and not being themselves. Whyte points out that "as human beings we are the one part of creation that can refuse to be itself. Our bodies can be present in our work, but our hearts, minds and imaginations can be placed firmly in neutral or engaged elsewhere". Being engaged elsewhere is damaging to our souls. "Crossing the Unknown Sea" is about reawakening the sleeping captain in us before that soul crashes on the rocks. The book takes us on the holiest of pilgrimages - to the centre of identity and the roots of growth.
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2002-07-06 11:31 ]</font>
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Post by Troy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Nice topic, Martin. This one immediately sprung to mind:



"Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix



Well, I'm a voodoo chile

Lord I'm a voodoo chile



Well, the night I was born

Lord I swear the moon turned a fire red

The night I was born

I swear the moon turned a fire red

Well my poor mother cried out "lord, the gypsy was right!"

And I seen her, fell down right dead

(Have mercy)



Well, mountain lions found me there waitin'

And set me on a eagles back

Well, mountain lions found me there,

And set me on a eagles wing

(Its' the eagles wing, baby, what did I say)

He took me past to the outskirts of infinity,

And when he brought me back,

He gave me a venus witch's ring

Hey!

And he said "Fly on, fly on"

Because I'm a voodoo chile, yeah, voodoo chile

Hey!



Well, I make love to you,

And lord knows you'll feel no pain

Say, I make love to you in your sleep,

And lord knows you felt no pain

(Have mercy)

'Cause I'm a million miles away

And at the same time I'm right here in your picture frame

(Yeah! What did I say now)

'Cause I'm a voodoo chile

Lord knows, I'm a voodoo chile

(yeah!)



Well my arrows are made of desire

From far away as Jupiter's sulphur mines

Say my arrows are made of desire, desire

From far away as Jupiter's sulphur mines

(Way down by the Methane Sea, yeah)

I have a humming bird and it hums so loud,

You think you were losing your mind, hmmm...



Well I float in liquid gardens

And Arizona new red sand

(Yeah)

I float in liquid gardens

Way down in Arizona red sand



Well, I taste the honey from a flower named Blue,

Way down in California

And the in New York drowns as we hold hands



'Cause I'm a voodoo chile

Lord knows I'm a voodoo chile





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Post by Stone_Giant » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Some Celtic blues from Van Morrison...



Dweller On The Threshold



I'm a dweller on the threshold

And I'm waiting at the door

And I'm standing in the darkness

I don't want to wait no more



I have seen without perceiving

I have been another man

Let me pierce the realm of glamour

So I know just what I am



I'm a dweller on the threshold

And I'm waiting at the door

And I'm standing in the darkness

I don't want to wait no more



Feel the angel of the present

In the mighty crystal fire

Lift me up consume my darkness

Let me travel even higher



I'm a dweller on the threshold

As I cross the burning ground

Let me go down to the water

Watch the great illusion drown



I'm a dweller on the threshold

And I'm waiting at the door

And I'm standing in the darkness

I don't want to wait no more



I'm gonna turn and face the music

The music of the spheres

Lift me up consume my darkness

When the midnight disappears



I will walk out of the darkness

And I'll walk into the light

And I'll sing the song of ages

And the dawn will end the night



I'm a dweller on the threshold

And I'm waiting at the door

And I'm standing in the darkness

I don't want to wait no more



I'm a dweller on the threshold

And I cross some burning ground

And I'll go down to the water

Let the great illusion drown



I'm a dweller on the threshold

And I'm waiting at the door

And I'm standing in the darkness

I don't want to wait no more



I'm a dweller on the threshold

Dweller on the threshold

I'm a dweller on the threshold

I'm a dweller on the threshold





As for films, Brazil by Terry Gilliam. This moved me on a deep level long before I'd heard of Joe Campbell. I WAS the fantasy obsessed Sam Lowry.



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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Then, of course, there's always Robert Johnson's Crossroad Blues, which supposedly is about his experience of selling his soul to the devil--a myth of personal transformation if ever there was one. (BTW, in Voodoo, Legba is the god of crossroads and thresholds, the trickster diety who holds the keys to gate between the human world and that of the gods, so there is much speculation as to whether Johnson might have been a Voodoo initiate.)



The most familiar version of this song is probably by Eric Clapton and Cream, but if you can track down one of the original recordings, do:
Crossroads Blues



From the November 27, 1936 recording session in San Antonio, Texas.





I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees

Asked the Lord above, have mercy now, save poor Bob if you please



Standin' at the crossroads, tried to flag a ride

Whee-hee, I tried to flag a ride

Didn't nobody seem to know me, everybody pass me by



Standin' at the crossroads, risin' sun goin' down

Standin' at the crossroads baby, the risin' sun goin' down

I believe to my soul now, po' Bob is sinkin' down



You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown

You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown

That I got the crossroad blues this mornin', Lord, baby I'm sinkin' down



I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west

I went to the crossroad, babe, I looked east and west

Lord, I didn't have no sweet woman, ooh well, babe, in my distress
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David_Kudler on 2002-07-09 10:39 ]</font>
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I kept thinking about what to add here and David's post got me on the right track. I grew up with the music of heavy metal and this was one of my favorites from Iron Maiden'sPiece of mind:

FLIGHT OF ICARUS

As the sun breaks, above the ground,

An old man stands on the hill.

As the ground warms, to the first rays of light

A birdsong shatters the still.



His eyes are ablaze,

See the madman in his gaze.



Fly on your way, like an eagle,

Fly as high as the sun,

On your way, like an eagle,

Fly and touch the sun.



Now the crowd breaks and young boy appears

Looks the old man in the eye

As he spreads his wings and shouts at the crowd

In the name of God my father I fly.



His eyes seem so glazed

As he flies on the wings of a dream.

Now he knows his father betrayed

Now his wings turn to ashes to ashes his grave



Fly, on your way, like an eagle,

Fly as high as the sun,

On your way, like an eagle,

Fly as high as the sun.
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Post by Manuel_Otto » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Al,



An Iron Maiden fan?! That is too cool! I would never have expected to run into another one of those in this forum.



Here is another one that I would like to add...



Styx's "The Grand Illusion"

Written by Dennis DeYoung

Lead Vocals by Dennis DeYoung



Welcome to the Grand illusion

Come on in and see what's happening

Pay the price, get your tickets for the show

The stage is set, the band starts playing

Suddenly your heart is pounding

Wishing secretly you were a star.



But don't be fooled by the radio

The TV or the magazines

They show you photographs of how your life should be

But they're just someone else's fantasy

So if you think your life is complete confusion

Because you never win the game

Just remember that it's a Grand illusion

And deep inside we're all the same.

We're all the same...



So if you think your life is complete confusion

Because your neighbors got it made

Just remember that it's a Grand illusion

And deep inside we're all the same.

We're all the same...



America spells competition, join us in our blind ambition

Get yourself a brand new motor car

Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on Earth's this spell we're under

We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are




Take care . . . Manny
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello friends,



thanks for all the tips! Maybe some of what is posted here can be used in the discussion of the other topics as second order reference material.

It's striking, that most of the recommended artworks are pop songs. I appreciate that, because I like the sort of music that is mentioned here, and looking for inspiration we cannot accept any artificial limitations. The recommendation has to emerge from an inner experience. That's why, in Mythos 1.2 - The Spirit Land discussion I liked to slander a bit on art critics and philosophers...

Maybe your preferation of pop music is an indication of a lack of ability of the kind of art, that today is presented in museums, galleries and opera houses, to reach a wider audience?



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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Here's an addition to my recommendation of the Glass symphony above. I haven't seen the film, of course, since it has not been released yet, but it sounds interesting, and Koyaanisqatsi is one of my favourite movies. Maybe you will have an opportunity to view it in the Fall 2002 and post a little report.



I took the following text from:



http://www.glasspages.org

Naqoyqatsi

(war life) by Godfrey Reggio will be the third film of the -qatsi trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi). It will be co-authored with Philip Glass, thus making a total integration of their capacities. Natkoy means war, Katsi means life, in its compound term it means war as a way of life. War as a sanctioned aggression against the force of life itself. It is about the globalization of the world. How through technology the world is homogenizing itself into one place, with one idea. The film will deal with subjects like virtual reality, how reality has become the image and how the image itself is our location where the real gives way to the virtual. The executive producer of the film is Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic). It will be distributed by Miramax Pictures and it is planned to be released in the Fall of 2002. The music for the film features solo cellos by Yo-Yo Ma and is gong to be relased on Sony Classical in the Winter of 2002.
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I'd like to correct Martin by saying the songs he referred to as pop are hardly that here in America. Heavy Metal to the Blues are a complete sub-culture here. I wanted to post lyrics to a Black Sabbath song, but I'll just give the link.

http://www.black-sabbath.de/lyrics/lyrics.htm

I suggest looking into the lyrics from the albums from 70-76 especially. One will find quite a few sentiments echoed here, 30 years later, on these forums.



I grew up with this stuff. Add North American rock like; CSNY, Boston, Styx, KISS, Ted Nuget, etc. you have the complete formation of myth for me before age 12.



I really think this is essentially what we are exploring here. Bringing this to a new generation who is smothered with inner-city love/hate stuff. Luckily, we have a resurgance of Folk Art allowing kids to explore their heritage.



The angst still needs a vent!!!



Peace,

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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Here's a link to some good paintings:

http://www.fireintheheart.net/paintings.html



AL
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I watched Mythos 2.2 today and then, in a moment when I needed it most, I heard this song by Boston:



Hitch a Ride

Day is night in New York City

Smoke, like water, runs inside

Steel idle trees to pity

Every living things that's died





Gonna hitch a ride

Head for the other side

Leave it all behind

Never change my mind

Gonna sail away

Sun lights another day

Freedom on my mind

Carry me away for the last time

Oh yeah



Life is like the coldest winter

People freeze the tears I cry

Words of hail their minds are into

I've got to crack this ice and fly



Gonna hitch a ride

Head for the other side

Leave it all behind

Never change my mind

Gonna sail away

Sun lights another day

Freedom on my mind

Carry me away for the last time

Oh yeah



Gonna hitch a ride

Head for the other side

Leave it all behind

Never change my mind

Gonna sail away

Sun lights another day

Freedom on my mind

Carry me away for the last time

Oh yeah



(Scholz)



I couldn't help but think about Prof. Joe's explanation of little ferry boat buddhism and the story of his friend Zimmer talking about leaving New York for Jersey.



Boy did the chills hit me on a hot day when that song came on. It seemed a bit like deja vu or synchronicity.



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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

People say, we cannot talk about politics, if we want to talk about myth. But how can we talk about a global mythology without talking about global politics?

War Photographer

is a great documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey. It's hard to decide, what to find more impressing, the personality of this man, or the pictures he does. The photos he does not regard as some pieces of artworks, but as a testimony. His personality seems to be formed by some "sacred space", but in fact it was his mission or "assignment", what made him to a calm and centralized man, who faces death and suffering without getting off the track or going into pieces (to say it in Campbell-terms).

http://www.war-photographer.com



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2002-08-20 14:47 ]</font>
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