The Warrior Hero: Reality and Myth

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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RDCharlton
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Post by RDCharlton » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:16 am

CarmelaBear wrote:Although I was not in the military, I was a lawyer. I'm also a person who can access feelings of anger and express them with real courage and power.
CamelaBear,
Your courage and power comes through in every post I have read from you so far. And anger can certainly be a powerful motivator. If I ever need legal representation, I know who would be first on my list to call! Can you practice in Oregon? :wink:

Bear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:30 am

Hey, thanks, Bear! What kind words. I don't practice law any longer for the same reason I am not a Baptist minister. I just don't believe the legal system works well enough to bother. The whole criminal law is about vengeance instead of healing. The civil law is about using money to manipulate emotions. The constitution no longer protects the American public from those who hijack our institututions.

My whole life I wanted to be president. I'd give anything to be running in the current race. Though I believe one person could get a small group to help me and that it could snowball into a real sweep.......I have yet to inspire that first supporter. Anyway, everyone can relax about having to consider CarmelaBear for president, because I can't even be a write-in!

I am almost a real person here in my little life as a caregiver who dabbles on the internet. I look forward to starting a Campbell round table in my hometown and start a political discussion group somehow.....I want so badly to get proper help for my patient, who is too disabled and poor to live without my free labor (there's no competition for much of what I do, because I don't get paid for most of it).

Happy in my misery......I like my problems......I'm a thinker and a caring, honest person.........I'm changing the world in my own way.

~
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by RDCharlton » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:01 pm

CarmelaBear wrote:Happy in my misery......I like my problems......I'm a thinker and a caring, honest person.........I'm changing the world in my own way.
~
CB,
I spent the first 40 years of my life dreaming of changing the world by impacting the masses of humanity. And I spent the first 40 years of my life utterly and completely frustrated. I almost gave up on changing the world. Then, in a moment of enlightenment, I realized that it was indeed possible to change the world. But we do it one person at a time. Peace is easier to find since this epiphany.

Someone, I cannot remember exactly who at the moment, said that it is more noble to spend one's life truly and deeply serving a single human being than it is to spend one's life serving the masses in a superficial way. This is my paraphrase, but it catches the essence. I think you have chosen the nobler path.

On another note, I spent a day at a VA skilled nursing facility last week caring for the patients. I met an older gentleman named Ed. He said hello, so I sat with him in the mess hall during breakfast. Ed had some significant cognitive impairment. For the first 10 minutes of our conversation he asked the same couple of questions over and over (Do you come from a big family? Where do you live? Were you in the army?). These questions were interspersed with the same comments (I was at Anzio. I drove a half track. Shot down 3 German planes. We only lost one man in my half track. That Hitler was a son-of-a-bitch. I have a daughter and three brothers.). I eventually learned that if asked the right questions, Ed would respond appropriately. I learned that his family visited him twice a week, brought him Diet Coke, and that he liked Diet Coke (“Diet Coke is wet!”). However, without specific questions to stimulate alternate responses, he always returned to the same first comments and questions. His core identity, that which persisted even through his cognitive impairment issues, was wrapped up in having family and his military service.

I have been considering this in light of the conversation on the warrior hero. It reinforces to me the idea that the mythological warrior hero always has a cause, a reason, something larger than himself to fight for and the major difference between the warrior hero and the monster he battles is this cause, this “something.” Both utilize violence and destruction but the monster’s is senseless or selfish while the hero’s is purposed. It may be family, justice, honor, or some other reason, but in mythology it is this raison’ d’etre which distinguishes the hero from the monster.

Thoughts?

Bear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:09 am

Oh, Bear! Heroes and monsters, such a lovely bunch of coconuts. It's back to that old dither of "Us and Them", good and evil, innies and outies.

If you're out, reality slaps you around and sometimes kills you. You learn that it's not what you did or didn't do or what you can do or not do or what you intend to do or wish or plan or love or see or know. It's about being born correctly or incorrectly.

Now reality is that those who live longer were born with better length of days, something measurable in the way that time is sometimes measured and compared. Much is ascribed to both genes and choices, to both luck and determination. There is, after all, something to be said for numbers.

There are those who are in the right place and born to the proper parents and inherited the cash or the body or the ladder that starts at the top. There are those who inherit beliefs that match reality to a tee. They are all on a track that leads to the special problems of those who are rewarded with superficiality, divine superficiality, the stuff of the gods, the stuff of those who are the biggest fools and the most revered maryrs and the greatest of the great.

Everyone rises, if only to the point of being an egg joined to that speedy sperm. Everyone falls, no matter how one is born or how one has lived.

"Civilization" is what humanity calls social organization, the realization of that ephemeral dreamworld where we live in spite of the foreknowledge of certain death and where, over long periods of time, someone is capable of representing the concrete reality of our most cherished symbols of divinity and meaning and life and the reality that is our identity as a unique people.

Reality was that our parents gave us their best shot, and then hoped we would find our way through the woods and valleys awaiting us. They set up many signposts along the way, each representing a direction of sorts. Names and numbers and structures and pictures and things saved, bones buried with pomp and dignity.....there are so many maps that lead to futures and to parallel worlds, where souls do not have to experience our old pains. They can learn from our stories and find their own sources of new pain, something worthy of yet another story for more future souls.

I don't have to learn what it is to have eight children and to become trapped inside a hell created by a nation of foreign people with guns and bombs and false promises. I had no children and I am as full a citizen of my own country as one can be without being born Snow White and ready for Prince Charming and his secret minions. As for the false promises, I have no use for any of them anyway. You can't give what you don't have, and the poor people of the naked north turn out to be quite ineffective and inefficient and horribly unable to stop the little gerbil wheel in which they reside. They do make my little hell look rather heavenly.

There is nobility in serving others. There is no higher calling. Nothing is more real than the work I do. I am one of many, each serving, each wanting to belong to the Greater Cause, one we know in our hearts will let us down yet again and lead us down the primrose path.

Here, in this time of travail and joy, I am my own dream. I am the one designated by the people of the world to ward off the demons of loss and pain and loneliness and helplessness. Inside this place, I live in a true democracy. We vote on her medications and her doctors always win. We vote on the food supply and she eats what she wants. I eat what I want. We vote on the leader. The titular leader is the patient. The real one is the caregiver. I could spit in her soup and somehow, I don't know why, she knows I never would.

I won't spit in the world soup, primordial as it is.
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Dec 12, 2007 2:43 am

CarmelaBear wrote:It's back to that old dither of "Us and Them", good and evil, innies and outies.
Thank you for this comment. I see that I have been unclear in my discussion of the warrior hero and the monster. While I do believe there is evil in the world which must be confronted, I don't see the myths as being literal. In fact, I believe that far more often the myths are speaking metaphorically and that the hero and the monster are both us...ME. The mythic monster referring to the dark aspect of the psyche which must be confronted and defeated, the Hero being the nobler aspects of our psyche which must triumph, lest our psyche become a dead and devastated land, devoid of life.

Bear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:01 am

The mythic monster referring to the dark aspect of the psyche which must be confronted and defeated, the Hero being the nobler aspects of our psyche which must triumph, lest our psyche become a dead and devastated land, devoid of life.

Bear
Is the "dark aspect" something objective we would all recognize or is it strictly private and subjective? ...or both?

It's important to the warrior hero who is the universal archetype rather than a literal "boots-on-the-ground" soldier in a national war.


~
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:47 pm

CarmelaBear wrote:Is the "dark aspect" something objective we would all recognize or is it strictly private and subjective? ...or both?/quote]

My personal view is that the dark aspect represents the more primitive, savage, animalistic side. The dark side, IMO, is driven by the evolutionary imperatives, personal survival and personal propagation regardless of the cost to others. This is the side which says, “I am hungry and I don’t care who I have to kill in order to eat.” This is the side which is all about immediate gratification with no thought of the longer term consequences.

This is not to say the dark side is purely evil. But the dark, savage side unrestrained results in much evil. There is an old proverb which says, “Where the oxen are the stall is dirty, but much increase comes from the oxen.” Indeed, it is often the primitive drive which compels us to succeed, to drive on, to survive hardship and tragedy. In fact, the rage which we discussed previously could be seen to be an aspect of the darker side. Unrestrained it will result in self destruction, but harnessed, it can become the source for great power.

Now, please keep in mind, when I speak of the dark side or the light side (in this sense), I am inclined to see them as they are portrayed in the yin-yang. In myth, the monster is necessary for the Warrior Hero to arise. Without the monster, the hero remains a farmer, or blacksmith, or a simple soldier.

Does that make sense?
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Post by CarmelaBear » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:52 am

RDCharlton wrote:Now, please keep in mind, when I speak of the dark side or the light side (in this sense), I am inclined to see them as they are portrayed in the yin-yang. In myth, the monster is necessary for the Warrior Hero to arise. Without the monster, the hero remains a farmer, or blacksmith, or a simple soldier.

Does that make sense?
It makes plenty of sense. Do appreciate the explanation.

There is the inner warrior who takes on his or her own demons, and there is the external warrior who takes action in the world and confronts opposing forces. It's not possible to be alive and not experience this classic conflict.

This is a culture that keeps score. We rate our warriors and rank them by wins and losses, statistical comparisons and measurements.

Somewhere I read that the Number One motivating factor in the choice of a presidential candidate is an assessment of the candidate's chances of winning, not the issues or the candidate, but instead on our impression of what other people are likely to do.......which is often absolutely incorrect. Skewed predictions can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

For instance, polls show that more people say they are willing to vote for a woman or a black man or an Hispanic than those who say they believe that others will vote for a woman, etc. In other words, we don't vote for our favorite candidates. We vote for the candidates we believe are the most popular with everybody else, and here's the rub......individually, we think we're the only ones who are open-minded or unbiased.

If we knew how many Americans were willing to change the way things are currently done, and we knew how many people want an outsider to get into the White House, we might actually get something done as a real nation. Instead, we're stuck on the idea that the masses of Americans are not willing to see beyond money, celebrity, resume chic, and a passion for extroverted grandstanding.

Of course, I have a dog in this fight (me and my ego). I would love to be part of the contest for president. Right now, I'm someone who is easily dismissed as incapable of creating a political action, because I'm just here on the internet. I make it sound like I'm such an underdog, but I'm not sure that I couldn't make this thing happen......I would have to go into full warrior mode. I wonder if I even know what that is.

Americans, and I am definitely in that number, do not trust their fellow Americans to do the right thing, and we follow this false impression to a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, as if we are artificially becoming the dark side we have invented in our imaginations. We think we are not prepared to make basic, fundamental changes that address root causes of problems we all face.

Oh well.....I feel isolated and distrusted. Can't help wondering if my critics are just plain biased against me right out of the box. It's not me. It's the many groups to which I belong.......female, worker, Hispanic, and so on and so on.....where does that leave me? I'm not alone, though. All the folks who would benefit from my presence in the big job.

It's frustrating to watch this race go to the ones who just accept the way things have always been done..........*sigh*.....
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by A J » Fri Dec 21, 2007 5:07 pm

Clemsy and everyone,

I am in the process of reading John D. Caputo's What would Jesus Deconstruct?, and I came across a passage that reminded me of this exchange between Clemsey and me a few weeks ago:
The path of bliss is also the path of blisters. Some would rather not go there.
Clemsy

---------------------------

Yes, Clemsy. Some would stay in Pearson's Orphan and Wanderer stages, without ever taking a journey, or finding a focused direction.
AJ

----------------------------

Alas, AJ, for a world of orphans and wanderers. Methinks far too many of us are so defined.
Clemsy
So, am I pushing it, or does this possibly provide a response to our lament?
…in deconstruction the “step” is a more unsettled and confusing business, and we are always a little more lost, more adrift, or as Derrida says, destinerrant. This is a neologism—Derrida is an avant-garde writer and so he uses a lot of neologisms—meaning to be of erring or straying destiny, or perhaps to be destined to stray or wander off course. However, “errancy” does not mean utterly aimless, hopeless wandering. Rather, human life is to be compared to the “knight errant,” not only knights who are on an “errand” in quest of something, but also knights who get lost, who lose a lot of time riding around in circles and occasionally falling off their horses.
Just love that word, "destinerrant." I must remember it. Maybe those wanderers we were so concerned about have just temporarily fallen off their horses in the middle of our deconstructing worldview?

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

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Post by Myrtle » Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:03 pm

AJ,

Your post reminded me of something Pema Chodron (Buddhist nun and teacher) said to Bill Moyers on the PBS program Faith & Reason:
“…Because all I see now as I look out of my eyes at the world, I see that a lot of us are just running around in circles pretending that there's ground where there actually isn't any ground. And that somehow, if we could learn to not be afraid of groundlessness, not be afraid of insecurity and uncertainty, it would be calling on an inner strength that would allow us to be open and free and loving and compassionate in any situation…”
(http://www.pbs.org/moyers/faithandreaso ... print.html)

Happy Holidays everyone!

Myrtle
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Post by A J » Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:13 pm

An enlightening article, Myrtle. I could not help but notice how Moyer's opening question fits in with this thread:
BILL MOYERS: What is a bodhisattva warrior?

PEMA CHÖDRÖN: Well, it's someone who takes a vow, actually, which I have done, and many Buddhists do, that, my main passion in life is to awaken myself. And I believe that everybody could do that. And I will devote my life to the degree that I can awaken. To that degree I will devote my life to trying to inspire other people to believe that they could and, obviously behind all this is the de-escalation of violence, and aggression, and the escalation of loving, kindness and compassion, and those kinds of feelings. So the path is about how the individual works with their own mind, and how that affects the family, the society, the nation, the world.


Welcome to the COaHO. We are looking forward to hearing more from you.

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:41 pm

Hi AJ and welcome Myrtle!

AJ, your post begs a longer response than I have time for... and Myrtle adds more in a way that can take this thread in a new direction.

Briefly... this is an interesting point:
Maybe those wanderers we were so concerned about have just temporarily fallen off their horses in the middle of our deconstructing worldview?
...or trying to chase down the recalcitrant horse they have yet to mount! Yes. When one looks at the moment, it can all look very bleak... all these people chasing their horses, running in circles, getting nowhere.

And yet, from a perspective a level or three above the fray, we're all doing what we're doing, and going where we're going and isn't that just the way life is supposed to be?

You know, if there is a divine something that awaits at the end of all things, won't we all get there in good time? If not... then what does it matter either way?

I prefer the former and my heart tells me this is so. Yet from the view on the ground, it's hard to be patient.

The forum always slows down during the holidays... but I hope to hear from you soon.

Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by noman » Sat Dec 22, 2007 7:44 am

The knight errant certainly seems like the appropriate archetypal hero or heroine for our time. Sometimes ‘it takes a village idiot’. Many of us are metaphorically wandering in the forest where there is no way or path while literally negotiating a six lane interchange.

But I think there is something to be said for two kinds of adventures. There are Vasco de Gama adventures and Cristobal Colon adventures.

Vasco de Gama set sail for India in 1497. He knew where he was going – generally. His fleet rounded the Horn of Africa, crossed the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and landed on the Mysore coast of India. His adventure was much more harrowing than Columbus’s first voyage. He didn’t make landfall for a period three times greater than Columbus’s vessels, returning with only two of his four ships, and only one third of his crew. But he returned with products that paid for his adventure ten times over. His voyage was a triumphant success.

Cristobal Colon on the other hand, had no idea where he was going, had no idea where he had been, and did it all at someone else’s expense. Even though, in the long run Columbus’s adventure proved to be the more profound - and profitable for Spain, Europe, and Christendom. But he was confounded by his serendipity.

The serendipitous adventure becomes more spectacular with time. That’s why we name our space craft after Columbus and Magellan, and not Vasco de Gama.

But I think both kinds of adventure warrant merit.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone.

- NoMan

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Post by RDCharlton » Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:38 pm

I am reminded by the last couple of posts of the bumper sticker which proclaims, "Not all who wander are lost."

And I have to wonder how many of those who wander are simply seeking their quest. How many simply haven't had the opportunity to step up to the plate? Like Don Quixote, desperately wanting a dragon to face, yearning to be the hero warrior, but instead find themselves tilting at windmills.

It reminds me of a line from the first Batman movie. Jack Nicholson's Joker, who killed Bruce Wayne's parents when Bruce was but a pup, tells Batman that he made him, that Batman wouldn't exist if the Joker hadn't been the bad guy. And this is utterly true! It was the loss of his parents, and the constant torment of this injustice, which drove Batman (who, unlike most of the other "superhero" crowd was a mere human with no super powers) to become what he was. Had this injustice not occurred, Batman would never have existed.

It is Grendel which made Beowulf great, Humbaba which made Gilgamesh worthy of an epic poem, Poseidon who brought out Odysseus' greatness, and the Dragon which defined St. George. Were these men great without their nemesis? Certainly. But were they mythical Hero Warriors, worthy of song and poem, were they worthy of immortality without their nemesis?

This is something worth considering in our quest to understand the Hero Warrior.

Bear
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Post by Clemsy » Sun Dec 23, 2007 1:00 am

Excellent points, Bear. Heroism, I guess, is also defined by the opportunity presented by conflict. Therein lay the 'Call', no?
I am reminded by the last couple of posts of the bumper sticker which proclaims, "Not all who wander are lost."
Reference to Aragorn, son of Arathorn, from some lines written by one Bilbo Baggins. And true enough is this line.
All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king.
Then there are those who are not simply wandering in search of their quest, but dwell in the land of the lotus eaters.

Are they worth the casting of a value judgment? Hmmm. Have they been subdued by their nemesis?
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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