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 » Sun Dec 23, 2007 1:27 am

Clemsy wrote:Are they worth the casting of a value judgment? Hmmm. Have they been subdued by their nemesis?
Excellent question! And one with which I have been struggling myself in contemplating this thread. In myth, the Hero Warrior is set apart by both the opportunity and the willingness to take on the task. Does this make the Hero Warrior better than the farmer who simply wants to be left alone or does this simply make him different? Does earning immortality through deed and in song make one better? Or does this speak to our own value system? Could this be likened to the disparity between the pay of an NBA player and a teacher? Which is more worthy? Or could one exist without the other? Does the very fact of existence of those who seek quiet and avoid conflict make the Hero Warrior stand out all the more?

The deeper we go the more questions seem to be revealed.

Like Strider, Bilbo, and even Frodo, many of the greatest Hero Warriors were reluctantly drawn into their quest; some kicking and screaming (Bilbo, for instance!). I read a book once, Nineteen Stars, which offered biographies of Marshall, Eisenhower, Macarthur, and Patton (three 5 star generals and one 4 star). It asked the question of whether men are born great or become great in their circumstances. The answer seemed to be, "Yes." IOW, both are true.

BTW, thank you so much for sharing the Mr. Baggins' work. I know Campbell thought James Joyce was the greatest mythic writer of our time, but I am convinced that title belongs to JRR Tolkien! His works are a constant source of inspiration to me.

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Post by jufa » Sun Dec 23, 2007 4:19 pm

I have found in my experience of living that at some point in time everyone is born to be a hero, and then drawn to be a hero, and also pushed aways from being a hero.

Circumstances are always the thrust for measuring which of these events a person steps into. And being life is a continuous story of shattered dreams, I find it is the faith one has in one's self to arise and face the suffering and struggles the mentality which men has sat the standard for - such as the Hitler's. stalin's, Po Pots, Clinton's, Bin Ladin's Bushes - as well as the rearing, and educational disposition one has acquired to be willing to sacrifice one's self for the betternment of one or the whole.

It is fear which crushes heroism. Fear is personal though, and eventually "that which you fear the most will come upon you" if steps are not taken by one to demonstrate that something must be done. You cannot just sit there and go along with the slave mentality of fear - Something must be done. Do something! to break the shackles of permissiveness.

So I repeat, everyone is born a hero, they are thrusted into the position of a hero, and then push aways from being hero's.

Dictatorship in all forms bears witness to the latter statement, as being made stupid because of 9/11.

You are never alone!
Never give power to anything a person believe is their source of strength - jufa
http://theillusionofgod.yuku.com
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Post by wags » Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:19 pm

hi,
greatness is within all of us from the start. what drives us to use it, live it, unleash it is the puzzler. what keeps all of us from greatness? is it fear? is it the failure attitude? is it the selfishness aspect?
may peace preceed your every step, wags
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Post by CarmelaBear » Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:25 pm

Great people......great faults.......much damage.......much blood.

Sometimes risking unintended consequences is not worthwhile.

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Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by RDCharlton » Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:59 am

CB,
Your post reminds me of a Nietzsche quote, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

This raises my previous questions about the difference between the mythic monster and mythic hero. Both cause death and destruction. The primary differentiation is in motivation. Is the motivation selfishness, hatred, or revenge? Then, like Captain Ahab whose hatred of Moby Dick and whose thirst for revenge caused him to become a monster himself, the hero becomes an anti-hero. As the old adage says, one becomes like what one hates. Hatred tends to recreate in its own image.

This is substantially different from the mythic hero who is motivated by empathy for others and whose primary goal is to alleviate the suffering of others.

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Post by CarmelaBear » Tue Jan 22, 2008 7:40 pm

RDCharlton wrote:CB,
Your post reminds me of a Nietzsche quote, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster."

...This is substantially different from the mythic hero who is motivated by empathy for others and whose primary goal is to alleviate the suffering of others.

Bear
There are wars that make mythic heroes of the participants by the nature of the circumstances that created the conflict.

Having said that, most wars do not fall into that category, and then you've got naive warriors who believe they are alleviating the suffering of others, when they are actually just misguided cannon fodder.
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:10 am

CB,
I would want to make a distinction between myth and history. While myth may be based on history, and mythic heroes based on historical figures, it isn't the actual event to which I refer. Instead I am attempting to discuss/understand what the myth, especially the archetypal myths, say to us

IMO, actual events and history (which may be two entirely different things) may have lessons to teach us as a society, but myth speaks to us personally, individually. History is about exploration of the outer realm. Myth is about exploration of the inward. Myth gives us common language, common symbols, in order to speak to our common condition.

In this sense, the motivation is everything and monsters are often the mirror image of the hero, a polar opposite to the nobility and self sacrifice of the hero. I believe these two reflect the duality of our own natures, and the struggle to rise above the evolutionary imperative and to continue to evolve from beast to human to more than human, perhaps even into Nietzsche's Ubermensch?

I do not believe that any historical war can make a mythic hero for myth only appropriates individuals for the purpose of creating a common system of symbols, and in the process the person becomes something wholly different from the historical figure upon which they may have been based. But at the same time, on a personal note, I would much, much rather die while attempting to alleviate the suffering of others, even if my efforts were in vain, than to “live a life of quiet desperation” and “go to the grave with the song still in them,” to borrow from Thoreau.

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Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:16 am

RDCharlton wrote: I would much, much rather die while attempting to alleviate the suffering of others, even if my efforts were in vain, than to “live a life of quiet desperation” and “go to the grave with the song still in them,” to borrow from Thoreau.

Bear
First, Mr. Whippersnapper, what exactly is "Ubermensch"?

Second, as someone who is both "attempting to alleviate suffering"

and, at the very same time,

"living a life of [somewhat] quiet desperation",

I will have you know that it is possible to see how everyone survives only by cooperating in the alleviation of the suffering of others, and that such endeavors are not as altruistic as you may intimate.

And, third, myth is storytelling that is transparently symbolic and mysteriously transcendent. So, personally, it can be all things to all people or nothin' to nobody.

Life as a struggle with great forces of monstrous proportions sure beats the heck out of life as a comedy routine on HBO or Comedy Central.

:wink: Has anyone seen "The Big Bang Theory" on one of the networks? It's life as silliness, and it's wonderful.

I also saw the CGI version of Beowolf, and I prefer the sitcom, thanks.
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:34 am

Hah! Whippersnapper, eh? I thought that term was only reserved for the young! :lol:

Ubermensch, literally "overman," is a concept from Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra." It is tied to the idea that what we currently see as human must be overcome, must become better. Just as modern humans evolved from lesser beings, so modern humans must continue to evolve into better, higher forms.
All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment…
It was this concept which, unfortunately, the Nazi's hijacked and mutated into their twisted vision. Others have also hijacked the concept and, if applied to purely physical realms, it is not difficult to see how this idea could become the Nazi Master Race. I, however, tend to see things more metaphorically and also tend to apply things psychologically/spiritually.

In the end, the Ubermensch was simply Nietzsche’s way of saying that humanity had to stop looking to some deity to ride in like a knight on a white stallion to save the day. Instead it is up to us to recognize the realities of life and to act appropriately. We must change ourselves, not sit around waiting for someone else to do it for us. It is from this I developed my quote, “Rain falls. It is up to us to plant fields or build shelters.”

Regarding myth, I agree that some may see nothing, but I believe that the concepts are, in fact, universal. A third world villager may not have the faintest idea of the structure or function of a human heart, but it doesn’t change the facts of its anatomy or physiology. So in the same way, I view myth as archetypal, as touching on universal truth…um…not right word…experiences…nope, still not right…hard to put into words. I guess I would have to refer you to Carl Jung or to Joseph Campbell’s discussions on archetypes for a better definition.

So, IMO, and this is just my opinion, the lessons of myth are there whether they are realized or not.
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Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:56 am

RDCharlton wrote:Hah! Whippersnapper, eh? I thought that term was only reserved for the young! :lol:


Regarding myth, I agree that some may see nothing, but I believe that the concepts are, in fact, universal. A third world villager may not have the faintest idea of the structure or function of a human heart, but it doesn’t change the facts of its anatomy or physiology. So in the same way, I view myth as archetypal, as touching on universal truth…um…not right word…experiences…nope, still not right…hard to put into words. I guess I would have to refer you to Carl Jung or to Joseph Campbell’s discussions on archetypes for a better definition.

So, IMO, and this is just my opinion, the lessons of myth are there whether they are realized or not.
Communication, my dear Watson, communication. Now, the symbols refer to universalities.......for the most part.......and I just wonder whether the ground has to be wet for the grass to grow.

~
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:24 am

CarmelaBear wrote:Communication, my dear Watson, communication. Now, the symbols refer to universalities.......for the most part.......and I just wonder whether the ground has to be wet for the grass to grow.

~
CB,
My Goodness! But aren't you quick on the draw today! :wink:

Jung said archetypes were universal, but the symbolic expression tended to be within whatever cultural setting the individual found themselves. The symbols were not the archetype, but rather the cultural expression of the archetype. I believe that Campbell extended this to myth, finding the commonalities within myths from various times, cultures, etc., and, after stripping away cultural differences, viewing the commonalities as the archetypes. Creation myths, Redemption myths (complete with the death/sacrifice and resurrection of the hero), Flood myths, and Hero’s Quest myths can be found around the world. It is these stripped down symbols which I tend to see as representing something universal.

My apologies for my poor communication skills here. I am attempting to briefly address a topic which is woefully misrepresented in brevity. And I am preparing for an exam, writing a paper, and managing several other life crises at the same time. It likely would have been wiser to wait to respond until I had the time and energy to give the topic its rightful attention.

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Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:18 am

Sorry :!:

I get what you're saying. I'm sure we could go on like this, but you have more important things to do, so I will respectfully back off and let you go about your business.

Fact is, I'm suffering from chronic cabin fever.
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:02 am

No need for a "sorry!!" I have enjoyed our exchange! You have helped me sharpen my thoughts and for that I am grateful. I am sorry to read of your cabin fever. Is it cold where you are?

Off for some needed sleep now.

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Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:53 pm

Although the weather is a bit chilly out here in the southwestern desert, the "coldness" that gives rise to my present condition stems from feeling stymied in significant ways.

My choices in life have hemmed me in, but I believe I've been presented with slim pickings right out of the box. I have benefitted greatly from political movements for social and economic change. For example, I credit LBJ's war on poverty for academic opportunities in my high school years (which eventually prepared me for admission to the best damned school in the country - Harvard Law School). I credit my good friends, Gloria Steinem and Derrick Bell, for allowing me to think of myself as equal to such high-ranking individuals as the president and any of the current array of candidates for that office.

By a "choice" of sorts, I hold a menial job with utmost dignity and devotion to my mission of compassion. It prevents me from taking to the campaign road during what I regard as the most crucial hour in my nation's history. At this pivotal moment, when the world economy and the habitability of our planet is at stake, I would prefer to be in the thick of battle, the people's warrior, fighting for peace and prosperity and that bliss to which we all aspire with our first and last breath.

Further, I acknowledge that my inability to inspire enthusiasm in others is of paramount importance. There are emotions and reasons that prevent my phone from ringing and keep everyone from showering me with e-mail to encourage a struggle that, to others, appears quixotic, unrealistic, and to be fair......a bit scary.

I don't think my dreams are delusions. I think my aspirations and priorities are sensible and realistic and, absolutely, desperately urgent.

Hey! :) Except for all that, my cabin fever is really small and temporary.

~
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The hero's journey

Post by vanbengler » Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:50 am

I have read this topic with great interest and while this is my first post I would like to offer this:

"hero" a (man) i.e. "person" of distinguished courage or ability, admired for (their) bravery and noble qualities. A (person) who is regarded as having heroic qualities and is considered as a model or ideal. A small loaf of italian bread i.e. "hero sandwich". The principal male character in a story, play film, etc. In classical mythology, a being of godlike prowess and benificence who often came to be honoured as a divinity. Adapted from Random House College Dictionary, 1983.

"Hero" in classical mythology, a priestess (personal comment: and note the femine; i.e. the carrier, sustainer and nurturer of life) who drowned herself after her lover Leander drowned while swiming the Hellespont (now known as the Dardanelles, about 40 miles long and 1 - 5 miles wide connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean). as above: from RHCD, 1983

So, just as a comment: It seems that we i.e. "modern society" have this whole "hero" thing all mixed up. The original "hero" was feminine . . . . the carrier, sustainer, and nurturer of life . . and it seems that this has been totally forgotten or warped and distorted in the passage of time.

This is a theme that Mr Campbell reiterates more than once in his many presentations. We have lost connection to our myths and they no longer speak to our souls . . . . and we live in a defragmented, disintegrating culture and society where self destruction through 'disconnection' from the sustainer, nurturer and carrier of life is a very real possibility.

Very little is sacred anymore and life has become very cheap, indeed.

It's interesting what information a good dictionary can provide . . .

Anyway, this is my first post and I am looking forward to sharing thoughts, opinions and ideas.

thank you for reading.
May "God" bless you and those you love and care for
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