Simple Myth Definition

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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Coralskipper
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Simple Myth Definition

Post by Coralskipper » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:15 pm

Hey all, newbie here, and I need some help. First let me tell you all why I'm getting ready to work on a series of short essays that ask the question of whether or not comic book super heroes can be considered myths, in any sense of the term. The reason is that whenever anyone seems to try and defend comic books they throw out the idea that superheroes are part of modern mythology. Personally, I'm a fan of the idea, but it also needs to be said that the majority of people who say such a thing know a lot about comics, and next to nothing about mythology. I'm planning on evaluating Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Captain America against the same defintion of a myth, and see where each one suceeds, and each one fails.

To do this, I need a good, relativly simple definition, of what makes a myth. Depending on the results of my analysis against the simple criteria, I'd like to eventually redo the essays into a much larger paper when I get to grad school to study folklore in a couple of years. This is basic research for my own amusement in my summer break.

So, if anyone has a good definition of what makes a myth, or mythological story please post it here or send me through Private message. I'd like to have the first essay, which will be an introduction, and then focus on Batman done by this time next week if at all possible.
Myrtle
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Post by Myrtle » Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:25 pm

Coralskipper,

Comic book superheroes can be viewed as modern mythological figures. A myth is a metaphor. There are many different types of mythological heroes, however, as Campbell states in Pathways to Bliss "The basic story of the hero journey involves giving up where you are, going into the realm of adventure, coming to some kind of symbolically rendered realization, and then returning to the field of normal life."
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noman
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Post by noman » Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:01 am

Myth is an organization of symbolic forms, images, and narratives that are metaphoric of the possibilities of human experience and fulfillment of a given society at a given time.

- Joseph Campbell
Welcome Corralskipper,

I believe the characters you mention are popular for a reason having to do with what we value in our culture. Here is one book I’ve found on the subject.

Super Heroes

- NoMan
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Martin_Weyers
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:35 pm

Is the superhero a character, matching the criteria of a mythic hero as pointed out in The Hero with a thousand Faces? There are different viewpoints. The authors of The Myth of the American Superhero point out that these are different concepts of the hero: Many superhero stories are stories of a community waiting for a redeemer with supernatural powers. That's different from a story with a character who himself becomes the hero. Also some superheros are somehow infantile characters in their everyday life, and there is no psychological development. There are exceptions though, for example the TV (and comic) serial Heroes.
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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Re: Simple Myth Definition

Post by deus_ex_machina » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:18 pm

Coralskipper wrote:Hey all, newbie here, and I need some help. First let me tell you all why I'm getting ready to work on a series of short essays that ask the question of whether or not comic book super heroes can be considered myths, in any sense of the term. The reason is that whenever anyone seems to try and defend comic books they throw out the idea that superheroes are part of modern mythology. Personally, I'm a fan of the idea, but it also needs to be said that the majority of people who say such a thing know a lot about comics, and next to nothing about mythology. I'm planning on evaluating Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Captain America against the same defintion of a myth, and see where each one suceeds, and each one fails.

To do this, I need a good, relativly simple definition, of what makes a myth. Depending on the results of my analysis against the simple criteria, I'd like to eventually redo the essays into a much larger paper when I get to grad school to study folklore in a couple of years. This is basic research for my own amusement in my summer break.

So, if anyone has a good definition of what makes a myth, or mythological story please post it here or send me through Private message. I'd like to have the first essay, which will be an introduction, and then focus on Batman done by this time next week if at all possible.
Myths (IMHO) are symbolic stories that illuminate a specific social, spiritual, or cultural, value. Their outer elements make them unique to a particular society, their inner elements provide common points of reference across the entire human species.

Therre is a book called: "Superheroes and Philosophy," which may be a useful reference in your research. http://www.opencourtbooks.com/books_n/superheroes.htm
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Post by chloemarie » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:02 pm

I think that ur assumption is valid. Superheroes are a sort of modern hero. They have to deal with their powers the best they can and that can surely be a herculean effort. Holding the torch of justice in a corrupted world is surely a prometheian affair and the very definition of a "modern" hero
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