Basic Concepts: The Persona

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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

Now that we have had a fairly thorough kicking-around of the concept of the Collective Unconscious, I'm going to take Tree Hugger's suggestion and launch a few topics that focus on the specific archetypes and how they emerge in myths, dreams and religion.

I'm going to follow Campbell's outline of Jung's theory as he lays it out in "Psyche and Symbol," the first lecture in the series, Mythos 1: the Shaping of Our Mythic Tradition. The last of the Archetypes that Campbell discusses is the Persona.

Here's what Campbell has to say:
The next element in our illustration of Jung’s schema is the persona/personae system. Persona is the Latin word for the mask worn by an actor. The personae are the outer selves, the set of masks we each wear, like some character in the Japanese Kabuki or a Eugene O’Neill play. They are the Völkergedanken, the folk ideas, the system of transformations with which we have to live. Each society has its distinctive wardrobe of personae. If we were living 250 years ago in an American Indian community, for example, we would have a totally different set of personae. It’s through the personae that we come into relationship with other human beings and with the world of nature, which is to say, the world of our own character.

Personae will differ from one society to another. In a traditional society—a supreme example of which is traditional India—you are meant to identify with the persona and live in terms of what is called the dharma, the system of duty that is put upon you. If you are a brahmin, for example, you are a priest-teacher. A kßatriya is a warrior, a vaisya is a merchant, and so on. You aren’t playing the role. You are that persona.

In our modern Western society, which has much greater respect for individuality, you are not the persona. You have to put on the role, take it off, and put it on again. The role is not part of you. Imagine the alternative. The Executive comes home in the evening and is met by the Executive's Wife. The Executive plays ball with the Executive’s Son for a little while, and then, later in the night, the Wife will have the privilege of going to bed with an Executive. A person like that, who identifies himself with his role, we call a “stuffed shirt.”


David Kudler

Publishing Director

Joseph Campbell Foundation

publications at jcf dot org

(take out the spaces and replace the "at" with "@" and the "dot" with ".")

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David_Kudler on 2002-06-08 12:58 ]</font>

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

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Tree Hugger on 2002-06-22 21:31 ]</font>

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

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Tree Hugger on 2002-06-22 21:31 ]</font>
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Post by ALOberhoulser » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Tree Hugger,

You produced an excellent post to start this thread. I too enjoy the freedom to discard a persona that doesn't suit me. I'm currently going through one such discarding and reshaping in my own life.

I'm not real happy about how difficult our American society makes it to do such a thing, but I'm pretty flexible.
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Post by gracie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thank you, David, for the quote. I never realized how much freedom Western civilization has in this area. We are able to try on many masks, aren't we?

If one were to peek into an average American classroom today versus a century ago, we can appreciate how much we have evolved in this area!

I collect old Primers and school books, dating as far back as 1839. The art of Elocution was the subject that recieved much attention back then. Prose and poems were carefully chosen for each gender, and the males were given entire essays to recite with phonetic instructions. Patrick Henry's Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!" was popular for the boys. Imagine being a first born male, just a century ago! Persona would be assigned.

Now, in the year 2002, boys and girls can wear the same clothes to school; shorts, pants, t-shirts....., play any sport, play any musical instrument, read any book, and basically access any information they want on the computer! They are free to explore any aspect of persona they can dream up!

I smell Renaissance!
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Post by Painted Owl » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Painted Owl

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