The Wasteland...

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 Clemsy » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:59 pm

Battleship,

Welcome to the JCF Forums! Your post does resonate... but are you saying that the wasteland is not a way to experience the world? Otherwise I'm not sure what your "Oh contraire" refers to.

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Clemsy
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Post by bodhibliss » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:47 pm

Excellent point, Robert - a necessary clarification.

I'd just add the two views are not mutually exclusive. It's not a case of "either/or," but of "both-and" ...

Otherwise, if the world is exclusively identical with the wasteland, then we never leave the wasteland and the myth dies there ...
Last edited by bodhibliss on Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Battleship » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:35 pm

Hello Clemsy
I am simply pointing out that there is a correlation between the inner life of man and the world he creates. The inner wasteland cannot help but create an outer wasteland. In this way the wasteland is not exclusively an inner metaphor. IT represents the outer realities as well. Through this thread associates have stated that "the world is no wasteland". It is this that my contraire refers to. Indeed it is.At least at this point of time.

I offer the folllowing two quotes for illustration..
".Underneath the hopeless girls with babies and angry boys with guns, underneath the breakdown of civility and community, underneath the alienation that marks our acquisitive and corporate culture is spiritual poverty.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton 1993

thanks for the dialogue and your response.
Robert
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:05 am

Ah, Robert, thanks for the clarification. I do agree... but only to a point. Isn't the wasteland 'out there' always there to some degree? Ebbing and flowing with the trend of history?

On another level, someone who is a wasteland within, will only see the wasteland without, no? Even the green and promise of spring will seem barren and sterile.

Like Satan in his hell.

Whereas one who is 'soul rich' will see promise in a desert.

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Battleship » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:29 am

Clemsy

Yes . your comments are accurate. this is a rich subject and has it's complexities and nuances. To add one more there is also the paradox.
For example David Myers wrote a book entitled The American Paradox-Spiritual Hunger in the age of Plenty. The basic synopsis is that since 1960 we have seen in America a Paradox. while material wealth has increased in this time , every benchmark we have for measuring subjective well being and happiness has been in decline. On the surface the Kingdom has the appearance of all being well. And yet. . . . . .

Notwitstanding the different perspectives on this subject it is my personal belief that the most relevant portion of the topic is for more of us to understand and recognize the universal principle that says "as above so below, as within so without" We all need to recognize that the external challenges of our times may well be a mirror to our collective souls.
In other words. the current credit crisis is not merely a crisis of available funds. It is also a crisis of fath. The environmental crisis we face is not merely a crisis of resources, it is a crisis of materialism and greed.
One more quote just because I find that others say it better than I ever could.

That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation. So I am here right now because I am married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.

Michelle Obama

Thanks for engaging the dialogue Clemsy. I am not sure what you are witnessing where you live and in your circle of influence, but I am currently witnessing many people living within the wasteland today. In Campbells. words, climbing the ladder of success only to find it leaning against the wrong wall. as well as living within their daily lives void of the spiritual component absent of a creative response to life.

cheers
Robert
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Post by Samarra » Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:44 am

Why does the wasteland have to be bad? Why can't it be MAGNIFICENT...

MAGNIFICENT WASTELAND
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:04 am

Robert, Kenny is messin' with our metaphor.

:lol:
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Post by Ned Kelly » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:45 pm

And playing the Devil's advocate as I usually do, I agree with Kenny that sometimes what SEEMS to be a "Wasteland" can be magnificent!

Wasn't that one of the main lessons of the beautiful movie, "American Beauty", like in this clip? http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=UDXjnW3nIWg

And isn't it the main point of Buddhism?
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Post by chloemarie » Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:36 pm

reminds me of a certain quote about saying both yay and nay to it all its in a ton of campbells books. seems relevant
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Spinning in the wind

Post by Samarra » Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:57 am

I’m a little scared right now, Ned. I was watching the tree in my back yard yesterday morning (possibly when you posted that YouTube video). It's a maple tree, so the little “helicopters” were flying all around. It was quite windy, and some actually rose up as they passed me. I couldn’t help but think of that exact scene from American Beauty. It was like a private show just for me. You can imagine my surprise when I clicked on your link today.

My last name used to be spelled Czamara, but after watching one of JC’s lectures, I changed the spelling to Samarra. Publically, I told people, especially my father, who was heartbroken, that it was for phonetic reasons. But secretly, the name represented for me one of the first cities ever founded (circa 4000 BCE). This was a very important time in our evolution as a species and I wanted to be connected to it by name. I even adopted one of the symbols from JC’s slideshow as my new family emblem:

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Recently, my wife told me that those helicopters were called “Samaras”. I’ve been fixated on those small helicopters over the past couple weeks and I didn’t know why. My five year old son and I went on a secret mission one day to discover what they were. As he walked home with one in hand, we stopped and asked everyone we met. No one gave us “the right” answer. Finally, when we got home, a Jehovah’s witness came by the house. I let him in, as I always do, and we asked him. “It’s a seed,” he replied. At that moment, I realized its significance -- I was a Samarra. My message, or meme, was simple… love her.

That’s a message I've carried inside me all my life. Many amazing things are happening right now that point at spreading this message. It seems we are in another crucial stage of our evolution. This just may be the kairos moment where the global consciousness that we’ve been talking about actually coalesces. That sounds like a delusion of grandeur on my part to imply that I am the seed. Although, you did say, Ned, that I was the Holy Fool.

We are all, of course, the seeds. Perhaps I’m just the first one to hit the ground in a long time. It is my belief, of course, that like my experience yesterday, there are many others on their way. They’re just having too much fun right now playing in the wind to plant themselves in this magnificent wasteland.
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Post by Clemsy » Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:11 am

Hmmmm. Very interesting. Wasteland... seed.

I can't help mentioning that we're watching Excalibur in my English Lit class. Yesterday, Percival wins Grail by realizing 'the King and the Land are One.' Arthur drinks and is renewed. He rides out and the country side blossoms.

Wonderful metaphor, that.

Samarra, when I was a child, we used to play with those 'helicopter' seeds. We'd split the thick end and stick them on our noses. I haven't thought of that in decades. :)
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Post by Battleship » Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:31 pm

Clemsy
As I continue to read the thread I can't help but believe that some may have confusion concerning the wasteland. I believe that some are confusing the wasteland motif with the soulful journey. Unless I stand corrected I find no references anywhere where Campbell romanticizes the wasteland. Campbell defines it thus "The world without spirit is a wasteland-and t's consequence is "people lacking lacks a creative response to life."

In the hero's journey the wasteland is identified as a consequence of the refusal of the call. Wasteland lives occur when we negate our callings, live unauthentically through prescribed roles. these type of lives are wounded lives. In the Arthurian Legends which you are now studying The Fisher King suffers what is called a dolorous blow. Dolorous is an adjective meaning full of or causing pain or sorrow. A dolorous blow is an event or wound that is full of pain and sorrow and devastating enough to transform the kingdom into a wasteland.The wound he suffers is a spear into his thigh symbolic of the groin rendering the King impotent in his life. The wasteland is not a desired state or place. Romanticising it or staying in any longer than one has to is masochism and does not serve the person nor the kingdom community he serves.
Does this mean that the wasteland cannot serve purpose in a cycle. no. Remember that often it is the recognition or awakening to the wasteland that may herald in a new journey. a journey to what? a journey to wholeness.

Now. what some are describing within the thread. I get it . I understand. These feelings I associate with the journey. The descent motif NOT the wasteland motif. The hero's direction is at first downward. a descent into the depths of oneself.This is the awakening of spirit not the absence of it that Campbell refers to as being characteristic of the wasteland.
Further. In archetypal psychology we are encouraged not to medicate the darker moods but to take counsel with them. How are they trying inform you? In Dantes inferno Virgil redirects Dante who is trying to find peace and happiness away from the ascent to the light towards the soulful descent into the darkness. Into the depths. Of course this is not the final destination for the goal is to transcend it. However this is an empowering and spiritual act. the journey has begun. The distinction however is clear. The wasteland is an entirely different place in Campbells hero's journey. The wasteland is the spiritless place that one finds himself when he does not journey at all.
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:17 am

As I continue to read the thread I can't help but believe that some may have confusion concerning the wasteland. I believe that some are confusing the wasteland motif with the soulful journey.
Hi Robert! I don't know about confusion... as I tell my students, however you work a metaphor that resonates is valid in terms of you. However, in terms of this particular metaphor and this particular thread, I generally agree with you: the Wasteland is a state of spiritual emptiness resulting from a Refusal of the Call. Also, there is a very definite purpose in the imagery we get from the Fisher King sequence of the Arthur cycle.

We further discussed this in class yesterday, and I mentioned the interpretation of the metaphor as a psychological/spiritual crisis. One of my students asked if it couldn't also apply to what really does happen when leadership fails resulting in a collapse of human institutions.

I asked him if he was referring to the state of things today... and he raised his eyebrows in surprise. He'd come to that intellectually without even seeing the application. I told him that the metaphor does, indeed, apply to a societal-spiritual crisis.

Clever lad.

(Interesting. Who missed the Call? Tempting to lay it all on Bush's head... but in a democracy, the Call is to the People, not the King? Was 9/11 the Call?)
The wasteland is an entirely different place in Campbells hero's journey. The wasteland is the spiritless place that one finds himself when he does not journey at all.
I wonder if the image isn't the same, though. Yes, the Wasteland can be the effect of a refusal. Is the Refusal synonymous with the Wound? Even if not, the place, the image, is surely the same. There's just more than one way to get there?

As for your earlier question:
I am not sure what you are witnessing where you live and in your circle of influence, but I am currently witnessing many people living within the wasteland today.
Number one, I live in the woods. It's November and I'm no longer surrounded by a wall of impenetrable green, but it's still very much alive and vibrant. While walking alone in what we call 'the wayback' of my property, a flock of chickadees noisily surrounded me, seemingly unconcerned with my presence. One landed on a branch right in front of my face and talked to me for a bit before flying off.

Hard to feel a Wasteland here!

Anyway, in terms of the larger picture, I do see the Wasteland expressed. But it's always there, no? It ebbs and flows and I really can't tell if it's ebbing or flowing right now, although I would say it's certainly more obvious. Is this because it's ascendant, or because we're wise enough to notice it? I mean, we just elected a black man to the U.S. presidency. There is a feeling of hope that may just be unrivaled in my lifetime. Mrs. Clemsy has a friend who works for the Center for Democracy in D.C.. He reports the city is positively glowing with joy (As opposed to 2000, when the bureaucrats were in despair because "the crazies" were back in town.).

There's lots of stuff going on that's quite evolved, but below the radar. It's been difficult to maintain a positive perspective in light of the loud calls to nationalism and religious 'purity' we've been hearing for the past eight years.

But there's a change in the wind.

We've received a new Call... a second chance? And people are awake.

Very encouraging.

But the Wasteland will never cease to exist. The world will always be a mess. But with people aware and active, we can keep the Dark at bay.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by CarmelaBear » Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:49 pm

Hi Everyone!

This is a cool topic, because the metaphor reaches way out and way deep.

To be able to reach out on a call to adventure, one sometimes has to reach deep to learn what is keeping us in one place, paralyzed and unable to move outside our own inner wasteland. Then, moved by a fire too hot to tolerate, we move out impulsively. We encounter resistance and obstacles so great that we make no discernible progress, no matter how hard and fast we go.

When I think of the "wasteland", I think of a desert that is more than barren. It is visited by people who bring no water or plant life of their own and have no imagination to survive the place as it is or transform it or escape to a better place. It is a land without permanent habitation. There are only those who bring nothing and find nothing, and by implication, they die and are forgotten by the land they dared to enter, perhaps having escaped from yet another place that had become inhospitable.

Because our bodies have basic commonalities, there is a kind of universal experience of the wasteland that would be impossible to miss, no matter how magnificent the wasteland might seem to the healthiest and most positive thinker who ever lived. Because we are all currently associated with this planet, and literally share a common ground, there is a unitary nature to our experience of the time and space we share. There is an obvious wasteland, beyond our own horizons, that both beckons and frightens. It is mystery, the unknown, that which has power to envelop and destroy.

My own experience of the "wasteland" is tied to a recurring personal experience that I struggle to learn how to transcend.

Sometimes, there is a verdant life all around me, and I don't recognize it. I don't see it. I put on my rose-colored glasses, and it appears, vaguely.

Sometimes, the life-giving forces populated my past, and I cannot remember them. Their shapes and sounds seem to be part of someone else's silly imagination.

Sometimes, everything I need is everywhere I need it, and I am unable to make it out in all the grey haze of perception and habitual misinterpretation.

There are ways to meet this challenge of perception, however. I systematically list my perceptions exactly as I experience them. I literally note them.

Here's an example: I perceive my own inadequacy as a human being. It may be any one of a gazillion different things. You name it. I seem to be less than what I ought to be.

I write it down.

Then, I question my perception.

Here are some of my most common errors of perception.

1) All or nothing -- I see myself as good or bad at something. Even 99% good is not good enough, and is therefore, bad.

2) Filtering -- I pick out one dumb thing I did and I focus on that. I can't take my attention away from it. It consumes my sense of self, and I feel that I must be bad.

3) Personalizing -- I assume responsibilty for an external event in which I played a minor role, and I feel that I am to blame for something bad, and then, I have to be bad.

Finally, I see how the negative thought about myself is all wrong. I understand my perceptions, but they no longer have any power. Now, I see that I'm not only okay, but I am thriving. I'm not only good, but I'm among the best.

It's not necessary to feel that I'm on top of the world, the leader of the world, the best of all the best. I only need to see myself as whole and real and good.

Therein lies the most fertile ground of all, though I must say that it does have to be tilled every year and irrigated and protected from all manner of threats. It's the most wonderful work, if you can get it. The daily challenge invigorates, though I will readily admit that I look forward to being able to concentrate on these all-important misperceptions with more precision and comprehension. Looking in and looking out.

I wake up with my dreams behind me, able to see clearly and there is no wasteland. The desert blooms with glorious plantlife, and there is enough. It appears as if by magic. Joy, a quiet feeling, gives rise to easy breathing, easy thoughts, flowing energy, and something new born from the magnificence that is the creative life.

I know the wasteland exists inside on account of my brutally honest lists of thoughts.

I know the wasteland exists outside mostly on account of the nightly news.

Many of the same errors of perception exist inside and outside.

When I see people behaving badly, I don't see bad people. I see people who need something.

We all need things we can't have or get, no matter what.
We all need things we already have and just don't use.
We all need things we can get if we do something that works to our advantage.
We all need things that we can only get if we are lucky enough to be in the right place.
We all need things that we can only get when the time is right.
We all need things that we can only get from each other, from the world, from that which is beyond us all, the mystery of a wondrous universe.

So, I see the people and I start to make lists. I list their perceptions and I list their needs, and I make lists of all the ways those needs can either be met or can be survived.

Sometimes, I find the lists absolutely overwhelming, and I stop and rest and dream.

Then, I wake refreshed and renewed, noting my thoughts, challenging the ones that seem to be wasting a perfectly good life, and I make more lists of ways I could think differently, and if I am successful, I start to make my lists of the perceptions of others.

That's why I keep finding more Joseph Campbell. I like to look at everything through the lenses he provides me. With my myth-colored lenses, I find baskets full of seeds and buckets full of water.

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Post by Neoplato » Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:51 am

Wow! Well....the wasteland to me is the same thing as the underworld. We must decend into the trials and if we pass the "temptations" we will able to unite our material existence with our spiritual existence and bring our physical form into a new level of consciousness. Thus bridging the gap between the creator and the created.
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