Myths: 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' discussion

All about J.R.R.Tolkien's life, his beliefs and philosophies, and his interests
Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:01 pm

Ferel youths patrolling the streets with no one to rein them in or guide them, or to show them what it really means to be an adult, is one example. Another would be the increasingly materialist and selfish outlook on life that many (not all) disadvantaged young people have. By disadvantaged I don't mean just materially disadvantaged, but socially disadvantaged, where they are never taught that you can't have everything you want, never taught that the world doesn't revolve around them, never taught to care and have sympathy for others rather than being competitive with them. Many aren't guided by parents or religion, aren't held in check by social taboos or by the law, or even by their overworked teachers who can be suspended for going an inch over the mark.

End of long rant. They could all do with reading 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' to help them find their path through life, but an increasing number are leaving school barely able to read a comic. Of course we have many, many wonderful young people, but they live in a very scary world increasingly full of 'couldn't-care-less' bullies.

Sad but true!
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:53 am

Ah, yes, well, we have those things, too. Maybe not the end of western civilization, but of civilization, period. I don't see a lot of the young folks wanting to do anything hard, let alone heroic. There are, of course, wonderful exceptions to this generalization.

I thought, though, that you might have meant that we are giving up specifically western values, which I guess Tolkien thought as well. There's a book by somebody (of course--all books are by somebody!) about LOTR as a defense of western civ. Has anyone read it? It would be interesting to know which values Tolkien thought those were.

One of the things I think about when I read Campbell is that, even though he makes the convincing arguments that there is a monomyth, it is still the stories that come out of my own tradition that move me. The rest just seem a little weird! So if we give up our own tradition in the name of monoculture or embracing diversity, are we giving up what really could move us to heroism as well?

This reminds me of something I read a year or so ago: within a generation, we are likely not to have any people with (naturally) red hair in the US any more. I guess red hair is always the recessive gene and brown hair is always dominant, and there is so much brown-haired DNA in the gene pool now that it is likely to drown out all the red-heads. I've been telling the handful of red-headed children I know that it is now their genetic duty to find a red-headed mate! Mostly I'm kidding about that, but it makes me sad to lose red-headedness. But I see the same thing happening in the Wide World: if, in the name of diversity, we create a monoculture, we destroy diversity. Ironic?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:54 am

Does Campbell argue for, or suggest a monoculture? I haven't reached the end yet but I thought he was arguing that there are the same truths behind a diversty of myths (the monomyth?), but that our own myths are our path to it - they are the ones we identify with and which come out of our past and national psyche. But I certainly think that globalisation and the merging of cultures means a lot of people (unless they can pick out the universal truths going on behind it all) don't know what to believe in or follow any more and end up rudderless.

I haven't yet come across the book you mentioned...
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:34 pm

No, he doesn't suggest a monoculture. I may have been unclear above. In some ways, maybe he suggests just the opposite. I'm suggesting, though, that the more we become a monoculture and abandon our own historical roots and stories, the less capable of heroism we become.

Please don't understand that I think we should be intolerant of people from oher cultures or races. Far from it! I'm a brown-haired (okay, tinged with gray!) person myself. But how can we welcome others and maintain our own roots? (I think my mixed metaphors are defeating me here!) It's like globalization: it may not be bringing us the best of all cultures, but rather the same fast food is found in every city. Will we end up with fast food myths? (Maybe that's what Star Wars was!)
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:57 pm

Merry wrote:I'm suggesting, though, that the more we become a monoculture and abandon our own historical roots and stories, the less capable of heroism we become.


I think that's true; but I don't think we are becoming as much of a monoculture as some people fear. Everything goes in cycles; and people our age have been inclined to think the world is going to hell in a handcart for centuries, because succeeding generations look at things - or come to things - in a different way. The historical roots and the stories are still there for those who care to look - and plenty of people do. Why else would Peter Jackson's trilogy strike such a chord with the general public?

As for heroism: a couple of years ago a policeman was stabbed & killed by a schizophrenic in the town where Iolanthe lives. It's not the sort of place you might assoicate with heroism. But at least two members of the public risked their own lives to help catch the perpatrator. It may not be the stuff of myths and legends - but it is there.
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shieldmaiden
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Postby shieldmaiden » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:22 pm

I bought and read this book a few years back and I'm delighted to see this forum. I have enjoyed Campbell's perspective since the 80's and this new discussion will give me the opportunity to revisit his works.
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“…..suddenly above him far and faint his song was taken up, and a voice answering called to him. Maedhros it was that sang amid his torment.” The Silmarillion, Chapter 13: Of the Return of the Noldor

Merry
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Postby Merry » Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:29 pm

Wonderful, shieldmaiden! Our discussion seems to have ground to a halt. What ideas from Campbell did you think were the most interesting?
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

shieldmaiden
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Postby shieldmaiden » Sun Dec 27, 2009 8:24 pm

Hi Merry,

I made a start rereading the book but got bogged down with Crhistmas obligations. Will resume in earnest after the New Years celebrations have past.

I have always found Campbell's blend of eastern and western philosopy appealing. I think he managed to point out that regardless of who we are, or how we practice our faith, in the end, we are more alike than different.

Joseph Campbell's philosophy was all about the journey not the end destination and it's a philosophy I can completely relate to and have chosen to practice myself.

I remember PBS had a series with Joseph Campbell which I watched. I don't know if it's available on DVD. I should check and find out. It was quite wonderful!

P.S How did you colour your signature? :?:
0 x
“…..suddenly above him far and faint his song was taken up, and a voice answering called to him. Maedhros it was that sang amid his torment.” The Silmarillion, Chapter 13: Of the Return of the Noldor

Merry
Varda
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Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Postby Merry » Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:53 pm

I've read about the PBS special and which I had seen it. I might check out the local libraries. I agree about Campbell's insight that there are certain fundamental aspects of human existence that all share. It's kind of fun to try to name them.

On font colour: as I'm typing this message, there is a pull-down menu above the box that says 'font colour'. I don't remember for sure, but I imagine it's available when one sets one's signature quote.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
Uinen
Posts: 2339
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Postby Iolanthe » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:53 pm

Actually, it doesn't show formatting options in the signature line box when you go into 'Profile' above, so now I'm wondering how I managed to do it myself :-k. I imagine I must have typed it in a reply box like the one I'm typing in now, formatted it from the menu above, and then copied and pasted the whole thing over including the formatting tags. That should work.
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...


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