Myth and the Modern World

22 06 2010

Read this powerful dialogue on the relevance of mythology in the modern world. This is an excerpt from “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell, a famous American writer who traveled around the world and wrote books comparing the different mythologies which connect us all.

MYTH AND THE MODERN WORLD

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. 1 don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

MOYERS: Why myths? Why should we care about myths? What do they have to do with my life?

CAMPBELL: My first response would be, “Go on, live your life, it’s a good life — you don’t need mythology.” I don’t believe in being interested in a subject just because it’s said to be important. I believe in being caught by it somehow or other. But you may find that, with a proper introduction, mythology will catch you. And so, what can it do for you if it does catch you?

One of our problems today is that we are not well acquainted with the literature of the spirit. We’re interested in the news of the day and the problems of the hour. It used to be that the university campus was a kind of hermetically sealed-off area where the news of the day did not impinge upon your attention to the inner life and to the magnificent human heritage we have in our great tradition — Plato, Confucius, the Buddha, Goethe, and others who speak of the eternal values that have to do with the centering of our lives. When you get to be older, and the concerns of the day have all been attended to, and you turn to the inner life — well, if you don’t know where it is or what it is, you’ll be sorry.

Greek and Latin and biblical literature used to be part of everyone’s education. Now, when these were dropped, a whole tradition of Occidental mythological information was lost. It used to be that these stories were in the minds of people. When the story is in your mind, then you see its relevance to something happening in your own life. It gives you perspective on what’s happening to you. With the loss of that, we’ve really lost something because we don’t have a comparable literature to take its place. These bits of information from ancient times, which have to do with the themes that have supported human life, built civilizations, and informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries, inner thresholds of passage, and if you don’t know what the guide-signs are along the way, you have to work it out yourself. But once this subject catches you, there is such a feeling, from one or another of these traditions, of information of a deep, rich, life-vivifying sort that you don’t want to give it up.

MOYERS: So we tell stories to try to come to terms with the world, to harmonize our lives with reality?

CAMPBELL: I think so, yes. Novels — great novels — can be wonderfully instructive. In my twenties and thirties and even on into my forties, James Joyce and Thomas Mann were my teachers. I read everything they wrote. Both were writing in terms of what might be called the mythological traditions. Take, for example, the story of Tonio, in Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger. Tonio’s father was a substantial businessman, a major citizen in his hometown. Little Tonio, however, had an artistic temperament, so he moved to Munich and joined a group of literary people who felt themselves above the mere money earners and family men.

So here is Tonio between two poles: his father, who was a good father, responsible and all of that, but who never did the thing he wanted to in all his life — and, on the other hand, the one who leaves his hometown and becomes a critic of that kind of life. But Tonio found that he really loved these hometown people. And although he thought himself a little superior in an intellectual way to them and could describe them with cutting words, his heart was nevertheless with them.

But when he left to live with the bohemians, he found that they were so disdainful of life that he couldn’t stay with them, either. So he left them, and wrote a letter back to someone in the group, saying, “I admire those cold, proud beings who adventure upon the paths of great and daemonic beauty and despise ‘mankind’; but I do not envy them. For if anything is capable of making a poet of a literary man, it is my hometown love of the human, the living and ordinary. All warmth derives from this love, all kindness and all humor. Indeed, to me it even seems that this must be that love of which it is written that one may ‘speak with the tongues of men and of angels,’ and yet, lacking love, be ‘as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.’ ”

And then he says, “The writer must be true to truth.” And that’s a killer, because the only way you can describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections. The perfect human being is uninteresting — the Buddha who leaves the world, you know. It is the imperfections of life that are lovable. And when the writer sends a dart of the true word, it hurts. But it goes with love. This is what Mann called “erotic irony,” the love for that which you are killing with your cruel, analytical word.

MOYERS: I cherish that image: my hometown love, the feeling you get for that place, no matter how long you’ve been away or even if you never return. That was where you first discovered people. But why do you say you love people for their imperfections?                             .

CAMPBELL: Aren’t children lovable because they’re falling down all the time and have little bodies with the heads too big? Didn’t Walt Disney know all about this when he did the seven dwarfs? And these funny little dogs that people have — they’re lovable because they’re so imperfect.

MOYERS: Perfection would be a bore, wouldn’t it?

CAMPBELL: It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal — that’s what’s lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there’s no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.

MOYERS: What do you mean?

CAMPBELL: Suffering. Suffering is imperfection, is it not?

MOYERS: The story of human suffering, striving, living —

CAMPBELL: — and youth coming to knowledge of itself, what it has to go through.

MOYERS: I came to understand from reading your books — The Masks of God or The Hero with a Thousand Faces, for example — that what human beings have in common is revealed in myths. Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death. We need for life to signify, to touch the eternal, to understand the mysterious, to find out who we are.

CAMPBELL: People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.

MOYERS: Myths are clues?

CAMPBELL: Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

MOYERS: What we’re capable of knowing and experiencing within?

CAMPBELL: Yes.

MOYERS: You changed the definition of a myth from the search for meaning to the experience of meaning.

CAMPBELL: Experience of life. The mind has to do with meaning. What’s the meaning of a flower? There’s a Zen story about a sermon of the Buddha in which he simply lifted a flower. There was only one man who gave him a sign with his eyes that he understood what was said. Now, the Buddha himself is called “the one thus come.” There’s no meaning. What’s the meaning of the universe? What’s the meaning of a flea? It’s just there. That’s it. And your own meaning is that you’re there. We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about.

MOYERS: How do you get that experience?

CAMPBELL: Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people’s myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts — but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message. Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive. It tells you what the experience is. Marriage, for example. What is marriage? The myth tells you what it is. It’s the reunion of the separated duad. Originally you were one. You are now two in the world, but the recognition of the spiritual identity is what marriage is. It’s different from a love affair. It has nothing to do with that. It’s another mythological plane of experience. When people get married because they think it’s a long-time love affair, they’ll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is recognition of a spiritual identity. If we live a proper life, if our minds are on the right qualities in regarding the person of the opposite sex, we will find our proper male or female counterpart. But if we are distracted by certain sensuous interests, we’ll marry the wrong person. By marrying the right person, we reconstruct the image of the incarnate God, and that’s what marriage is.

MOYERS: You’re saying that marriage is not just a social arrangement, it’s a spiritual exercise.

CAMPBELL: It’s primarily a spiritual exercise, and the society is supposed to help us have the realization. Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that’s what is threatening the world at this minute.

MOYERS: What happens when a society no longer embraces a powerful mythology?

CAMPBELL: What we’ve got on our hands. If you want to find out what it means to have a society without any rituals, read the New York Times.

MOYERS: And you’d find?

CAMPBELL: The news of the day, including destructive and violent acts by young people who don’t know how to behave in a civilized society.

MOYERS: Society has provided them no rituals by which they become members of the tribe, of the community. All children need to be twice born, to learn to function rationally in the present world, leaving childhood behind. I think of that passage in the first book of Corinthians: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

CAMPBELL: That’s exactly it. That’s the significance of the puberty rites. In primal societies, there are teeth knocked out, there are scarifications, there are circumcisions, there are all kinds of things done. So you don’t have your little baby body anymore, you’re something else entirely.

When I was a kid, we wore short trousers, you know, knee pants. And then there was a great moment when you put on long pants. Boys now don’t get that. I see even five-year-olds walking around with long trousers. When are they going to know that they’re now men and must put aside childish things?

MOYERS: Where do the kids growing up in the city — on 125th and Broadway, for example — where do these kids get their myths today?

CAMPBELL: They make them up themselves. This is why we have graffiti all over the city. These kids have their own gangs and their own initiations and their own morality, and they’re doing the best they can. But they’re dangerous because their own laws are not those of the city. They have not been initiated into our society.

***

What struck you in this dialogue?

What new insights did you learn about mythology?

Why is mythology still relevant to the modern world?

Advertisements

Actions

Information

35 responses

22 06 2010
pdee12

I was amazed by the fact that Campbell was able to relate mythology to life well, and describe philosophy. I learned that mythology is very helpful in our lives. Every time we face a situation, we can relate it to myths. I also learned that myths are “clues” to what is inside of us, our spirit. It can help you see how life works. It is still relevant to the modern world because without mythology, we would be a society without laws to abide with.

1 07 2010
jarcilla12

I was struck by the complexity and deepness of myth’s effects on the human mind. When he said that perfection makes things boring, but imperfections makes something interesting, this totally changed my view of looking at things. I now know why we are easily intrigued by mysterious cases because we do not know and are unsure of these, we do not believe that this is plausible because it is imperfect. We first must step back and look at the bigger picture to find out the message within.

Mythology is a way of life for some. This is used as an open-minded explanation for things that we can not explain. We use this as a back-up to describe the indescribable and reason out the unreasonable. It is both a way of life and way of thinking.

Mythology in this modern world is important because it serves as a basis in which people start off with. Mythology presents a new way of looking at certain things so that we may not interpret them wrongly. We can use this as a basis to give meaning and reason to things we find awkward and from that are able to analyze them in better detail.

22 06 2010
bco12

I was struck by the idea that no one is actually searching for the meaning of life, but that they are only trying to feel alive. I learned how mythology was a way for man to show others what people were deep down inside, where everything is simple and exaggerated.
It’s not that we these myths don’t work anymore, but the cultures associated with the perspectives needed to realize these things are slowly being lost. People think differently now; believe in different things. Even if we are still the same on the inside, you wouldn’t be able to tell from our outsides. Perhaps new myths are needed

22 06 2010
knacion12

It surprised me that they were able to point out that myths have another importance aside from culture because myths to me are mere stories that people made to explain certain phenomena.

I learned that we should not read myths as merely narratives. If we look deep enough, they’re actually telling us something important and relevant even up to this day.

22 06 2010
bmarana

“They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people’s myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts — but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message.”

I love this line. There are so many lines in here that Campbell says that are so profound, yet he says them so casually!

What strikes me most is the sense of timelessness that myths give us. I have to agree that I find myself caught in the constant stream of news and updates, especially now that I’m working with Operation NExT! We’re encouraged to be connected and plugged-in and up-to-date with the latest developments in the world, but how often do we get a chance to pay attention to the updates and developments of our inner spirit, which happen much more slowly, but are of much greater significance?

24 06 2010
dyulo12

What really struck me is how someone can be so obsessed with mythology that he actually believes that mythology is the very soul of life. Myths were made up to answer things that people couldn’t scientifically explain. I believe that our Christian Faith is what we should consider to be the experience of life. Still, I was amazed that he could find some significant points of mythology that I agree with too, but I don’t agree that mythology is the only thing that gives those significant points.

My most acceptable insight in this article is that perfection is boring, and imperfection is lovable. This made me think, “Oh yeah..” to myself especially when he said, “It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.” It is, after all, BOTH our good and bad qualities that make us human and unique from the rest.

I do not wish to appear as an ignorant, narrow-minded pessimist, but I think myths only purpose now is to entertain us with stories and amaze us by how all of these myths are connected to one another.

24 06 2010
ltanganco12

One thing that struck me in this dialogue is how Campbell tried to explain to Moyers the significance/importance and application of mythology in the real world. He said that we are all preoccupied by the different things around us like the news and violence that we forget that there is another side of things – to look inward and to reflect.

I learned that we can apply the mythology in our daily lives. I also learned that we should not set aside mythology because it can also help us to live our life. There are a lot of things that mythology has to offer not only the pleasure of reading them, but also trying to escape from the reality of our own lives.

Mythology is still relevant to the modern world because it provides great excitement and leisure to its readers. It creates a different world that people can imagine about.

24 06 2010
amayoralgo12

What struck the most was the part about people loving imperfection. Because a lot of times, I think about my imperfections and the those of my life. I’ve always wished I was somehow perfect or at least close to it. But I guess it isn’t attainable. But I guess I should learn to love my imperfections.

I learned that mythology really is relevant. I was never really into mythology but after reading this, I’m actually excited to start reading. I guess we can all somehow relate to mythology and learn something significant from it.

I guess in our modern world is very fast paced. We tend to get absorbed into our lives. I think reading mythology would be a great way to just stop, think, learn, and reflect. Some thing we all need at times.

24 06 2010
kng12

What struck me the most was that some people these days are still so much into mythology. Given the fact that our world is already fast moving, the people nowadays tend to just focus on “the news of the day and the problems of the hour”, without giving much importance to mythology. This intrigues me to read more on mythology.

I learned that perfection is boring while being imperfect is what makes us loved. Come to think of it, no one’s perfect. We just love the fact of competing to become perfect because we’re all imperfects, and that’s what makes life interesting.

Face it, life is dull. All we do is focus on the news of the day and the problems of the hour. Mythology is here in order to restore the balance, to entertain and make us relaxed and reflect on the past.

25 06 2010
cedchan12

What struck me the most is how deep Campbell was in his understanding of mythology, so much that he can apply and even compare it to human aspects like love and religion.

What I learned through this excerpt is that myths aren’t just merely legends to be told and used as basis for books, stories and movies, but it actually can be connected and compared to the many different aspects of human life.

Mythology is still important and relevant in our lives today because it can still be applied in our morals and even intertwines with our religion. I gives us an alternative way of viewing our morals from a philosopher’s perspective.

25 06 2010
jlim12

“The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal — that’s what’s lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there’s no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.”

When Cambell said this, I was stuck. I never really came to think of it, but it’s true. Everyone goes around saying at least once in his life, “I wish I was perfect.” Then all our problems go away. But deep down inside, this is not what we truly want. Yes, being perfect can be a bore. I do find it pretty hard to love God himself because I can’t relate to Him that much. But Jesus, Him I can relate to even by just a little. It’s because He’s human, like us. Him dying, that’s love right there. A kind of love we can all relate to.

I always thought Mythology to be a really boring topic. All those names of the different gods and goddesses we have to memorize. And not to mention their Roman counterparts. (Oh joy!) But now, even though not much of my idea of Mythology has changed, I realize that there IS some, no a lot of importance in studying Mythology. We may not realize it, but Mythology can help us look deeper in ourselves. So, I don’t consider Mythology to be a useless subject topic after all.

The different myths around the world, though they may be not at all true, still give different significant learnings that all of us can apply in our daily lives. The slow decline of the popularity of Mythology in our modern world has encouraged people (mainly the youth) to somehow find another source of the learnings. They may make their own set of guides and rules in dealing with different situations and finding their inner self. These may or may not be the correct types of learning. Myths have somehow served as guides in discovering our inner self as we learn different things from them. It is good for the modern aged people to use Myths as aids in their guidance as well, guidance in becoming members of the society and not childish immature beings.

26 06 2010
aguzman12

I was surprised because the conversation stated the universality of myths. I found out that myths not only transcend time, but they also go beyond the social barriers we so often employ and enforce , such as religion and race, in order to reveal a deeper meaning in our lives and to help all of us realize the value of experiencing the meaning of life, much like the gods and heroes of various cultures.

Furthermore, I found out that dealing with the problems of the minute and diving into the conformist, nonspiritual stream of present day society full time may not really be as good as when we have the enlightening guidance of our rich human heritage, which mythology provides, showing us the way through the mostly inane riffraff of the present.

26 06 2010
vfloro12

I was struck when Campbell stated that we’re not seeking for a meaning in life rather we are seeking an experience of being alive. This statement made me realize that seeking for meaning in life is simply a waste of valuable time. I came to understand that if we are merely spending our whole lives searching for something, then we are truly fooling ourselves. Our days are numbered, and like Campbell said, we shouldn’t focus on finding a meaning but an experience.

Mythology, for me, has always just been stories. Stories told by people long time ago. I never really found them to be significant. Now, from what I’ve read, Myths are somehow things that guide us in life. We can pattern them to help us deal with society today. Myths can still be applied in today’s world. Society was built on stories of the future, and like we’ve always been doing, we look back on the stories told so we can see how to improve for tomorrow.

27 06 2010
jgamboa12

What struck me most is that he says that perfection is a bore, and that man is only interested in stories and myths with imperfect beings, and that man would only believe things that have flaws. I agree with this because all stories must have conflict, and when a character has a conflict, he is indeed imperfect. A new insight about mythology is that in ancient times, mythology affected society so much that they wouldn’t even have their identity if not for their array of beliefs and practices that influenced how they lived and their philosophies as a whole. Mythology is still significant in the contemporary age because by learning from the past, we gain a better understanding of who we are and how to live our lives. We learn things about life beyond those that we would experience in day-to-day life, and these would ultimately shape our beings and help us grow.

27 06 2010
socier12

I was kinda struck by how much Campbell loves and understands mythology that he can apply it to life and stuff. I don’t think I can do that. Also, I agreed when he said that perfection is boring and that it’s imperfections that make something lovable. It’s like if you hear the same song being perfectly done all the time it gets pretty boring but if they change it up a bit and even make a few mistakes it becomes nicer to hear. I also agree with the part where he said we should be looking for experience more than meaning. I mean, he’s right, there’s no use in finding the meaning of a fly or something. Finding the meaning of life isn’t really important either, you’ll probably never get it anyway so why not just live it?

I think mythology is just stories to be read and it won’t hurt that much if you don’t read it in your life but if you do it’ll be nice. You can be guided by the different stories and the life-lessons contained in them. You just have to dig deep in them first.

27 06 2010
qalberto12

What struck me the most was Campbell’s belief of perfection. Through time, people have realized how splendid a man can be, straight, swift and strong. In fact, I’ve often longed to be free of such flaws and impurities. However, this supernatural state is really unattainable and yes, it is a bore. One could almost act so cruelly and contemptibly, what more with this radiant divinity? Mythology is generally supposed to show us the way humanity thought and felt untold ages ago. According to this view, we can retrace the path of civilization; and interestingly lead us back to a time when the world was young. Myths are early science; the result of men’s first trying to explain what they saw around them. Religion is also present in the background. Mythology is still relevant because nothing is clearer than the fact that man, whether in today or eons ago, never has been a creature who lives with bright visions. There will always be something to prick that bubble.

27 06 2010
armandgozali

What struck me the most was Campbell’s approach towards mythology. A normal person would take one glance at mythology and discard it away immediately, thinking reading it would be a waste of time because they don’t make sense when you come to think about it in a factual way, e.g. person’s turning into pigs, demigods, and the like. But my realization is that mythology still holds value in our daily lives.

Campbell’s beliefs and statements made me realize that these stories are actually something you can relate to your life, to help provide meaning to it. Living a life focusing only on the problems around you, and not the questions within you would lead to a life just being lived for obligations and responsibilities, and the like. Meaning to life brings fulfillment.

It’s still relevant in our world because myths are based on the basic concepts and ideals that were foundations to our civilizations. We can use these concepts as a guide to our daily activities and to bring us back to who we are supposed to be. Not robots who may be efficient but narrow-minded, rather as people circumspect.

28 06 2010
mtan12

What struck me the most in this dialogue was the fact that Campbell’s approach to mythology isn’t just like an ordinary story. He looked at it from a “life” point-of-view. He looked at the fact that these forms of literature portray a certain aspect of human life in which we can still base the way we live on. He showed us that mythology opens us to new heights, allowing us to reach for a certain point in which he perceives as “perfect.” Also, mythology appears relevant because of the morals that it depicts.

It also points to the fact that there is a reality. Stories and the like sometimes go over board, making them very unrealistic, but most of these actually show the possible horrors that can happen in human life. Tests of courage, curiosity, and such.

30 06 2010
rhuang12

“‘The writer must be true to truth.'” And that’s a killer, because the only way you can describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections. The perfect human being is uninteresting — the Buddha who leaves the world, you know. It is the imperfections of life that are lovable.”

This statement really opened my mind to a lot of things. In the human pursuit to be the best, to improve oneself, and to chase perfection, we forget that what make us truly who we are inside are our imperfections. Every perfect man is perfect in the same way, yet every imperfect human being — each and every one of us — is imperfect in our own unique, special, human way.

Now that I think of it, this is what mythology is truly about — the gods depicted in mythology don’t show beings at the highest peak of perfection — they in fact highlight the greatest flaws of man. Zeus, the head of them all, could even be said by some to be the most flawed of them all, showing man’s lust for power and desires of the body. These gods are not beings to be worshipped and praised — they are a reflection of who we are, what humanity is, the little nuts and bolts that make life what it is.

Myths teach us the little intricacies of life, most of the time metaphorically speaking, and make us look inside ourselves, think about the things we do, and allow us to imagine and reflect upon our lives. In the rush and haste of today’s world, we often only think of what happens around us — our grades, school stress, the news, business, and the like — but we almost never take the time to really think about what happens within us. Mythology gives us a chance to look through this window, to look at our inner humanity — something that was done by a lot of societies in the past, but has been blurred by the distractions of today — in our modern, fast-paced world. The context may be different, but the message to look at ourselves remains true. Mythology is still as impactful and important nowadays as it was to our ancestors, and Campbell’s insightful sharing further establishes its place in our lives today.

30 06 2010
cedricwang12

What struck me the most in this dialogue was how Campbell said that, for him, Mythology isn’t just stories that give us entertainment or fun, but they are stories which we can relate to our daily problems in life. Myths are there to help us achieve a different level in life, which is what Campbell termed as, “perfection”.

I used to always think that myths are just there as a form of tradition and as a means of entertainment, but I learned from this dialogue that myths are indeed very meaningful and very insightful in our lives. We can use the morales and teachings of them myths as things that we can apply in our daily lives. We might not be able to relate it into our lives once we start reading, but I guess that in one way or another, we will be able to relate it to some aspect in our lives.

I think mythology is still important in the modern world, because the stories never get old. No matter how, impossible or out of this world the stories may seem, there is a certain relevance that these stories posses. Despite all the new technologies nowadays, it is still only myths that can teach us basic things in our lives and those stories may be the ones that we can look back on to teach us about basic foundation of our lives.

30 06 2010
klim12

“It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal — that’s what’s lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there’s no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.”

This short paragraph really opened my eyes to the truth of myths, as well as the truth of our humanity. Despite humans being called the “perfect” being when compared to other living things, we are actually living imperfect lives and making mistakes as time passes by. This is what makes us so unique when compared to other living beings: that we aren’t special because of our opposable thumbs and complex minds, but because of the imperfections that we live out each and every day. Ironically, this is what makes us so “perfect” and practically similar to one another.

Before reading the conversation, I used to think that myths were just ordinary stories used to entertain people and to explain certain things that cannot be justified by scientific means. Now, however, I fully understand what a myth is supposed to be for. Myths are actually based from the one thing that unites us all: our ability to make mistakes and have some flaw in us that make us human. Believe it or not, now that I think of it, the characters in mythology represent the weaknesses that we humans have. One may think that all the individuals in mythology are perfect, having abilities and traits that everyone would want to have. But, in reality, each and every one of them have something wrong in terms of their personality and the things they do. Take Poseidon, for example. Despite him having total control and power over the seas, he still lusted for a lot of women, including his own sister.

Mythology, despite its roots to the past, is still important in the world today because the meanings hidden in these myths will never grow old. Even though the world we know of now has technology such as the TV, myths are still very important in defining who we humans are because at the core of it all, we can find answers as to how we cope with usual things we do nowadays. Through myths, we are able to learn more about ourselves and our imperfections, which may lead us to grasp the idea of humanity in a whole new level, as well as becoming closer to “perfection” by learning from our past mistakes.

30 06 2010
klim12

But, in reality, each and every one of them has something wrong in terms of their personality and the things they do.**

30 06 2010
jlu12

“It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal — that’s what’s lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there’s no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.”

This statement of Campbell really struck me. I always think that being perfect is desirable because I would not experience problems or suffering anymore. Also, it would not bring out the worst of me. After reading Campbell’s statement, I did not realize that being in the state of perfection comes with a cost. Sometimes, when there are no flaws or challenges, life becomes dull and boring. The colors of life comes out when we go through and face rigorous obstacles, and these things make us, imperfect mortals, even stronger, smarter and wiser.

Before, I thought that myths were made in order to entertain us. They were made to explain certain things we do not understand, and they depict the imperfections of man. Even though some characters in mythology were gods, they did not have qualities that really made them worthy to be called a god.
These imperfections help us realize our mistakes in life and help us to be improved as a person.

Mythology is definitely relevant in our modern world today. Even though that these myths are already outdated in nature, they still possess a certain lesson which really could help anyone learn. In spite of all the new innovations in our generation today, I think myths are the only literary works that can teach us important things about life.

30 06 2010
schua12

IB-A Steven Marc T. Chua

When I read the dialogue, I was astonished by the words of Campbell. He depicted mythology as a person who teaches people the eternal values of life and helps each and everyone to understand their inner self. He gave me knowledge that I once didn’t have about mythology. He listed statements on how mythologies and stories could help us in our life, and how it had helped the ancient era with their practices and beliefs.

In the dialogue, I was most struck in his topic of imperfection being lovable. The sole reason for this is because I didn’t thought about imperfections being great and life-giving. I never thought about how it would give interest and meaning to our life as a human being. I once thought I need to be perfect in order to live a life with happiness and greatness. But after I read the dialogue, I realize that without imperfection life would definitely be dull. If everything is perfect, then there won’t be something to laugh at anymore. There won’t be memorable and miserable experiences, and all kinds of scenes that give our life excitements.

The dialogue taught me that mythology gives clues in our life. It helped us understand ourselves much better because myths can be related with anything that is happening around us and within us. It helps us learn about our inner spirit and helps it grow. It came into my mind that mythology also helps maintain peace and order within the society. As the Campbell said, “A society without any rituals are consists of young people who don’t know how to behave in a civilized society.”

Mythology still is relevant to the modern world because it helps each individual reflect about themselves. It helps them think about their life’s similarities with myths and stories, and help themselves carve their own path of life. With myths, life would be different because we would know our imperfections and mistakes.

30 06 2010
mamin12

What struck me in this dialogue was how Campbell related modern society with that of mythology. He described myth not as a superstition but as a reality.

From this convincing dialogue, I learn that mythology should not be perceived as something fictional. Rather, we should sometimes treat mythology as something like a moral. Who knows, mythology can become a comparison to real life.

The modern society tend to forget how man’s nature came to be. Despite all the technology and new ideas, it all returns back to mythology. Mythology left us behind clues and unanswered phenomena that may lead us to become a better civilized society.

30 06 2010
lng12

“They make them up themselves. This is why we have graffiti all over the city. These kids have their own gangs and their own initiations and their own morality, and they’re doing the best they can. But they’re dangerous because their own laws are not those of the city. They have not been initiated into our society.”

I have great respect for Mr. Campbell because of his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Pardon me for not italicizing or underlining at the very least.). Personally, I do believe in his theories about how heroes and stories are repeated or have different versions, but of course, this is not something new. It takes to be very well-read to come up with stuff like that, but in all honesty, even a monkey could say that J. K. Rowling totally made Harry Potter a Jesus character in The Deathly Hollows. Just by saying that alone, you could already see how the people of today make their own myths. It’s almost sad how people know all sorts of things about, say, Harry Potter, and all they know about Jesus is that He looks nice when you wear him on a chain. Am I saying that people should stop reading Harry Potter, and start reading the Bible? Hell no. My point is that people believe in stereotypes more, and as a result they don’t even bother to look for the original character. It’s similar to reading a series of books. How the hell is one supposed to understand volume two if that person didn’t read volume one. Am I saying that Jesus is the original archetype? Hell no. Christianity is the youngest among the four major religions. My main point is that, everything goes only as far as the number of the people who believe in it. I suggest everyone who stumbles upon this comment to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Relating this to myths, the whole reason of why people believe that they’re not important anymore is that they’ve been replaced by what people consider to be myths today. (God forbid, Twilight. *eyes roll then pukes*)

“Aren’t children lovable because they’re falling down all the time and have little bodies with the heads too big? Didn’t Walt Disney know all about this when he did the seven dwarfs? And these funny little dogs that people have — they’re lovable because they’re so imperfect.”

“Perfection would be a bore, wouldn’t it?

It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal — that’s what’s lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there’s no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.”

What is probably that main reason why myths are supposed to be relevant is that they relate to humans or they show humanity more than any other text. I don’t like reading the Bible because of the very reason that it’s BORING. (Relax, everyone has their own opinion on things.) I remember mentioning this to a group of writers, “Everything you write needs to be, in its very own way, provocative.” The world is a different place. It’s hard to sell “You’re going to hell, if you don’t do this or that,” in a place outside the Vatican or the Philippines. The main point is, people find it hard to accept the idea of let’s say, God because He is not familiar to them. For example, Toy Story features a story that is for adults. the only reason why children are crying in the theaters is because Woody is in danger or something. But, do they actually know the deeper meaning. Can they relate to it? What makes a myth (Greek) effective or relevant is that people can relate to it very well. The gods don’t feature qualities or temperaments like what anyone would expect of an omnipotent being, but rather, they have human qualities. With regard the interest factor, if people actually bothered to read, I think they’d enjoy Greek myths, especially the stories of the male gods. The reason why is very obvious. What’s the one-hundred sure fire way to get into headlines? Scandal.

To end, I’ll say what I learned about myths through this good read. The reason why people should continue to read/ learn about myths is that it goes beyond a form of intellectual steroids. It helps build the character. Not just a food for thought, but food for one’s soul.

(Sorry for the radical ideas. I’m very sorry if I offended anyone in writing this. I tried my best to keep it friendly to everyone.)

30 06 2010
jso12

“Niobe’s twelve children were destroyed in her palace, six daughters, and six sons in the pride of their youth, whom Apollon killed with arrows from his silver bow, being angered with Niobe, and Artemis Iokheaira (shaft-showering) killed the daughters; because Niobe likened herself to Leto of the fair-colouring and said Leto had borne only two, she herself had borne many; but the two, though they were only two, destroyed all those others. Nine days long they lay in their blood, nor was there anyone to bury them, for the son of Kronos [Zeus] had made stones out of the people; but on the tenth day the Ouranion gods buried them. “

This passage above from the Iliad shows the horrors that occurred to Niobe’s children after she boasted to Leto that she had more children. The gods Artemis and Apollo did not take her hubris very well, and consequently, shot Niobe’s six sons and daughters dead.

Let’s face it. We may not even know it, but mythology does have a pretty decent influence in our culture today. A direct connection that can be made would be family members looking out for one another, or in this case, family members delivering disproportionate destruction to an offender. Greek gods in mythology in general were a pretty devious bunch. Just take a look at a few of their chief gods, namely, Zeus and Poseidon. They had their unreasonable whims, unfair biases (especially towards children), and most notably, their erotic escapades. One could say that a few really bad personality and character flaws made their way into to other figures, be they other gods, half-gods, and the like. I find what happened to Niobe care of Artemis and Apollo notable simply because it’s completely different to what I’m used to seeing. I thought “These are Greek gods! They are supposed to be feuding with each other!” Apollo and Artemis just showed that they, as siblings, are very capable of standing up to a besieged family member (their mother, Leto) even though they crossed the proverbial line in returning the favor.

I say, therefore, that the behavior of family members standing up for each other in real life situations and its occurrence in modern media has connections, be they simple or few, to Greek mythology. It’s all but alien and irrelevant.

30 06 2010
jso12

More thoughts.

“With the loss of that (mythology), we’ve really lost something because we don’t have a comparable literature to take its place. These bits of information from ancient times, which have to do with the themes that have supported human life, built civilizations, and informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries, inner thresholds of passage, and if you don’t know what the guide-signs are along the way, you have to work it out yourself.”

This quote from Campbell sums up what I feel about mythology and its “relevance” today. I think even the same goes for religious and occult literature that i read actively or just chance upon. Mythology’s a treasure trove of human experiences, thoughts, feelings. It only goes on to show that we aren’t necessarily too different from the others back then–even the gods of old. All the unexplainables that we have in our hearts and minds, those feelings or thoughts which cannot be conveyed in mere words or simple logic can be found here in their most basic form, so to speak.

30 06 2010
jong12

What struck me in the dialogue is how Campbell could relate mythology so well with reality and those are technically complete opposites.

From this dialogue I learned that mythology is something we should not perceive as mere fiction because just like any other great story out there it holds morals that will guide us in our everyday lives.

So the reason mythology is so important, as I mentioned before, is that it holds morals that apply in our everyday lives. These myths are like classical stories that must be preserved in time. Although before they were nothing more than stories made by man maybe just for the sake of making them. Today by looking at them from a different perspective we get a lessons from them and not just fancy stories to fill our fantasies.

30 06 2010
echua12

I, for one, am amazed by his understanding of life, the depth of it all. He described our endless pursuit of happiness and the meaning of life. I was in dismay when he stated something about the meaning of life is simply living it. Embracing the moment. In addition to this, I also enjoyed his play on the idea of imperfection and perfection.

Who knew the mythology had any relevance to this day? Mythology not only plays a role in entertaining us but also instructs us in terms of morals. We can also relate ourselves to the characters in myths in our present day society. However, I can’t come up with any ideas of who.

Not only is mythology a medium for teaching us morals, it also the source of many cultures today. And that is why mythology is still important to us.

1 07 2010
rgo12

Campbell’s quote, “they’re lovable because they’re so imperfect,” struck me because, like it or not, it’s true. Everyone wants to be perfect, but in reality “perfection is a bore.” Come to think of it, we are loved by our family and friends because of who we are– imperfect. I’ve always wanted to be perfect, but I realized that the adventure we call life will disappear. I guess that I should stop trying to be perfect, and to start loving my imperfections.

I’ve always looked at mythology as a stories, which are really boring and insignificant. My view on mythology has changed. Now, I believe that what we do can sometimes be connected to mythology. It’s like mythology was written for us, the people of the future, so that we can learn from it, and later improve ourselves.

Mythology’s influence to society makes it relevant to the modern world. Though it may not be prevalent to the youth, it still influences what is being done today. Also, by reading myths we can learn things that are not attained through school, or our day-to-day experiences. Each and every story has something different for us to learn, we just have to read and understand it well, better start digging in.

1 07 2010
tmonteverde12

And then he says, “The writer must be true to truth.” And that’s a killer, because the only way you can describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections. The perfect human being is uninteresting — the Buddha who leaves the world, you know. It is the imperfections of life that are lovable. And when the writer sends a dart of the true word, it hurts. But it goes with love. This is what Mann called “erotic irony,” the love for that which you are killing with your cruel, analytical word.

This portion from the answer of Campbell struck me the most, since if we were to compare a perfect human being to a imperfect being the stories would show a huge difference. What is there to tell if someone is really perfect? The answers would just lead to like,” Oh he’s pretty good at this.” where they are most likely to avoid change. Unlike their other predecessor which people would come up with better reasons such as,” Why is it that you are (any degrading words)?.” Answers are quite simple the person would further enrich their clairvoyance in order to achieve a better state in life just like how characters portray their roles in both myths and in everyday life. Life can be either a mistake or may be perfect, but if we see life as a mistake there we show what a real true story is that is change . Honestly, there is no such object being perfect, hence everything has a flaw in itself and each has a story to be told like the simple things in life which we take for granted.

I used to think myths as mere fairytales since it only entices unworldly imaginations, but know I concatenate myths to life itself in such a way that life’s worth is all about trying whether it would end in a good way or a tragedy we either gain or lose something in return of our longing to become better.

Basically mythology reflects the daily lives of people for instance mythology teaches us principles and morals regarding how the way we act uniformly, prudently or maybe violently. Further more take the gods for example they are not perfect beings otherwise there would not be story of their daily lives as gods, but perhaps only their belief of existence. The way how the Gods act or famous greek characters act are somehow mirrored to our daily lives such as Aphrodite where nowadays she would referred to be a prostitute, Zeus, god of the Olympians, some sort of a good leader and shows the dark side of a leader in his reign over the people.

2 07 2010
rreyes12

Myths bring upon us an escape from reality and as well, how it is also a big influence to our real world, how it functions, how we believe and how we know and how it explains its concept of how we live life for the reason to have a “feeling” of living and encompassing the mere mission of purpose, instead but to escape this goal and just believe in an unknown, out of this world way of treating our lives on this earth.

Imperfections are the new perfections. No one would even dare like something so perfect and plain nowadays which i find sort of true with our lives. Myths prove that being yourself and aspiring to be just yourself, our imperfect selves means more than anything. Living it matters the most. Being alive and relating ourselves with these myths

3 07 2010
jchiang12

I was used to think that mythology was simply a work of fiction that should be read just for the fun of it and discard it later on, much like those Maximum Ride novels. But the view(s) in this conversation proved otherwise.

Campbell surprised me by how he could relate mythology to real life. Both in terms of its influence and the gradual loss of its significance.

For example, he pointed out the similarity between going from a kid wearing shorts to a man wearing long pants. He related it to the rituals undergone by a child in his path journey towards becoming a man. But also within this example shows the loss of its significance. Children wear long pants not as a symbol of becoming a man, rather, it is just another article of clothing.

Another example concerns the delinquents, gangsters, muggers, thugs etc. They try to make their own myth through the formation of gangs, graffiti, initiation rites and the sort. They try but sometimes, what they do is against the laws of society.

He points out that although mythology is more fiction that fact, it is a representation of human attributes and serves as a moral guide. It is the very foundation of society. Mythology is not just a story, it is a story that has been passed down from generation to generation. It has undergone change and transformation. It is something that was made to bring order and understanding to Man.

5 07 2010
tngo12

I was struck at how imperfection makes us all more lovable and worthwhile creatures. I agree with what Moyers said: “perfection would be a bore.” Perfection would truly be boring. Sort of like the city in The Giver. Everyone was “perfect” the system had no flaws. No memories. No evil. All rules and regulations to make a city what some would call “perfect” but what most would call absolutely boring. I learned that myths are not just stories for maritime talks. They conceal in them deep symbols that lead to very useful learnings.

Mythology is a way to understand many things. We can learn lessons from it. And these lessons can help us in real life. The myths also set many scenarios in which we find ourselves today. This knowledge can help us to understand more about our universe.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: