|Posted by ajoiner on March 21, 2010 at 10:05 AM|
My morning inspiration begins again today with the quotation on my JCF widget:
"The old gods are dead or dying and people everywhere are searching, asking:What is the new mythology to be, the mythology of this unified earth as of one harmonious being? "
Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion. 1988
It was a familiar one. That particular book is on my bookshelf - one of those books that I read often. The book has seen much use, is thumb-nailed, highlighted, and well-worn. It did not take long at all to find the quotation. I thought it was interesting, and pertinent today, over 20 years after it was written. The comment was a follow-up to a quotation from William Butler Yeats poem, "The Second Coming."
Part of the book's Prologue, the poem and comment follow a passage on Adolf Bastian's three "primal compulsions" of humankind:
1 - "...the innocent voraciousness of life which feeds on life."
2 - "...the sexual, generative urge."
3 - "...the irresistible urge to plunder."
Campbell summarizes them as, "feeding, procreating, and overcoming." They run counter to a later development, "...the quality of mercy, empathy, or compassion," which he points out, "...like the will to plunder, is an impulse launched from the eyes....not tribal- or species-oriented, but open to the whole range of living beings."
"In our present day, when this same planet Earth, rocking slowly on its axis in its course around the sun, is about to pass out of astrological rangeof the zodiacal sign of the Fish(Pisces), into that of theWater-bearer(Aquarius), it does indeed seem that a fundamental transformation of the historical conditions of its inhabiting humanity is in prospect, and that the age of the conquering armies of the contending monster monads -- which in the time of Sargon I of Akkad, some 4,320 years ago, was inaugurated in Sothern Iraq -- is about to close."
He writes of "dissolving monadic horizons" and a "weakening" of the "psychological hold" of the old myths and their "social rituals," using Yeat's poem as an example. The "new mythology" will be a global one, he writes, saying it is,"...rapidly becoming a social as well as spiritual necessity."
Problems arise when we take the metaphors for literal fact. In doing so,we lose the very real importance of their massages for all people of all times.
"The elementary idea...of the Promised Land cannot originally have referred to a part of this earth to be conquered by military might, but to a place of spiritual peace in the heart, to be discovered through contemplation....For as the various ethnic forms dissolve, it is the image of androgynous Anthropos that emerges through and among them."
The theme for the second semester of my 10th grade Lit class was, "We are all more alike than we are different."
But today, as Yeats wrote a century ago:
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;"
I cannot help but hope for that "Second Coming," but I doubt that it will be anything like the one those "monster monads" are expecting.
Categories: Myths and Heroes