Resurrect the Myth

What needs do mythology and religion serve in today's world and in ancient times? Here we discuss the relationship between mythology, religion and science from mythological, religious and philosophical viewpoints.

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

Great little excursion into "science as myth". Now to get this thread back on to the original track...

- Nandu
Yes – trying to get all the JCF associates to talk about the same thing is like trying to herd cats. And I do appreciate your angle on the resurrection of myth. But for me recognizing science as mythic has everything to do with resurrecting the myth.

A transition has been made whereby scientific authority has replaced religious authority. I guess some people are comfortable with a divided heart – consulting the preacher on Sunday and the psychologist on Monday.

But for many people my age, the religious ceremonies we grew up with are just too hollow to take seriously. And the reason they’re hollow is because, in Moyers words in POM, “science has made a house cleaning of our beliefs”.

So science has become the authority and I ask myself how this affects us mythically. And I look to some of the stories that have gripped our attention – 2001 Space Odyssey, the Star Trek mystique, and the Star Wars mystique. On a list of top grossing films of all time seven of the top ten had to do with science fiction and fantasy.

Through these idiotic stories, we are groping for a new mythology. But as myth watchers, we needn’t play favorites, preferring the monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey over the Michelangelo’s image of God, or ‘the Force’ in Star Wars to the ‘Holy Spirit’ of Western religion, or ‘the Matrix’ in the film of like name over Vishnu’s dream; but rather appreciate the persistence of myth, its transformation, and what Campbell referred to as – The Masks of God.

That’s how I consider resurrecting the myth.

- NoMan
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2007-02-19 17:43, noman wrote:


Through these idiotic stories, we are groping for a new mythology. But as myth watchers, we needn’t play favorites, preferring the monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey over the Michelangelo’s image of God, or ‘the Force’ in Star Wars to the ‘Holy Spirit’ of Western religion, or ‘the Matrix’ in the film of like name over Vishnu’s dream; but rather appreciate the persistence of myth, its transformation, and what Campbell referred to as – The Masks of God.

That’s how I consider resurrecting the myth.

- NoMan
Now we getting somewhere! Couldn't agree more NoMan, we need to be pleased with what we have (all religion included) and just relax into the moment where/when/how it manifests for us.

'The Force be with you' <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">

Evinnra
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
http://evinnra-evinnra.blogspot.com
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littlewing
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Post by littlewing » Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:39 am

Bodhi:
I don't know about rejoicing - I have trouble with the increase in societal disruption, violence, and unnatural death that accompany and are aggravated by the breaking up of mythologies. As Joseph Campbell pointed out thirty years ago, this transition, absent the compass a collective mythology provides, will be a painful period of great ferment, chaos, and violence, as solid ground slips out from under the feet of vast multitudes. Eventually, something new will emerge – but the breakdown is not pretty.
It is because we are in this uncomfortable transition that, I believe, this topic of myth resurrection emerged. Of course, in our individual lives, the answer to the question lies in following the archetypes that speak to us; to pay attention to these in our dreams and stories. They are, of course, the same archetypes that informed the ancient sapiens; only the names change from, say, Hercules to Neo.

But on the larger societal level, we are in a "painful period of great ferment, chaos, and violence". If you want a concrete example, perhaps the new TV show "24" (I think), which entertains torture as a reasonable part of human conduct, is an example of myth gone 'bad'.

Joseph C himself mentioned the new myths emerging from science; Carl Sagan saw a whole religion emerging from science. I don't think the answer lies in educating our youth... often boring them to death... with stories of Greeks and Romans. I think the more we understand of what this stuff of science is, the more we will understand how to help our society find myths that speak loud.

The idea behind this thread that attracted me was that there is something that can be done to help our societies through the "breakdown" Bodhi quotes Campbell describing. Among the myths I entertain are some unpleasant (see how I avoid 'good' and 'bad' haha!) ones. I see a broken economy that carries much of the sorrow of the 'Dark Ages'. I agree with Steve on that one. I have no reason to question Campbell's uneasy description of a society flailing for myths that apply in a changing world.

In spite of all that has been said here entertaining science as the new myth... can't say I really grasp it. But sure sounds like something to sink teeth into. And something to help mitigate the dark age of a society "absent the compass of a collective mythology".

lw
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Post by nandu » Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:44 am

I think one of the modern vehicles of myth is the movie. Bodhi has done a very good "Practical Campbell" essay on the subject.

I think there are three ways in which movies create myth:
  • 1. Movies with mythological subjects. In this context, I remember the Ramayana and Mahabharatha taking new avatars as TV serials in India in the late eighties: the writers, actors and directors contributed their own mite to the characters so that we found many of them were reborn with distinctly new personalities!
    2. The story of the movie becomes myth, along with the character. Rocky Balboa, Rambo, etc.
    3. The film stars, their lifestyle, loves etc. create a mythical world of its own.
Of course, the structure of the movie itself is mostly built on the hero's journey.

Nandu.
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
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littlewing
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Post by littlewing » Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:26 am

Movies appear to be a conduit for modern mythmaking. When myths are outdated, perhaps we need moviemaking; scifi fiction; even modern fiction based on medieval hero stories like Tolkien's. Perhaps we need them to practice telling stories, while we seek the best: the ones that explain, metaphorically, who we are.

The myths that endure from our eon must be informed by the new physics: how and why we fit in a world made of carbon; a finite globe with a depth spanning from the top of our gravity force where the satellites spin to the core of molten heat from where our mountain ranges flow. Myths are the stories of belief... religion, if you will. And as anthropologists have noted, religion must inform people how to live in their known world sustainably. I think our current religions (speaking of all religions, including those I claim) miss this very important mark. They don't relate to the world as we currently know it, informed by science and technology; they require interpretation to bring them into the modern world. They don't address the realities of a world so small we can email someone in Somalia and get to know them personally. They don't acknowledge that we are capable of changing the landscape from forest to desert; the currents of the oceans; the very diversity of life in ocean and on land. These are concepts based on a world view informed by science. The new myths that help us see how the warrior lives in a Brave New World must address current problems using current science to be credible.

Humans still seem to us to be the most influential species on this planet; and there are many stories surrounding that curiosity. But we no longer look like the center of the universe... not even to us. A new myth must tell us how we look in a vast universe where maybe there is life elsewhere we might actually recognize as life; and the human stories surrounding that that reflect who we are... to ourselves. To me, the closest reflections like that still are old Rod Serling stories. They are the old stories, like Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder; but in a new fresh setting. It is important that the new settings of the new myths reflect our new uncomfortable residence of soul in a vast universe not created for humans.

lw
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