Monday, September 7, 2015

Modern mythology

Why Christianity and Star Wars "Work"

    In 1948, Joseph Campbell  (1904-1987) made a big splash in the field of mythology with his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. This book built on the pioneering work of German anthropologist Adolph Bastian (1826-1905) who first proposed the idea that myths from all over the world seem to be built from the same elementary ideas.
     Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961) named these elementary ideas archetypes, which he believed to be the building blocks not only of the unconscious mind, but of a collective unconscious. In other words, Jung believed that everyone in the world is born with the same basic subconscious model of what a hero is, or a mentor/guide or a quest, and that's why why people who don't even speak the same language can enjoy (or resonate to*) the same story. (*my insert)
     Jung developed his idea of archetypes mostly as a way of finding meaning within the dreams and visions of the mentally ill; if a person believes they are being followed by a giant apple pie, it's difficult to make sense out of how to help them. But if the giant apple pie can be understood to represent that person's shadow, the embodiment of all their fears, then the psychotherapist can guide them through that fear, just as Yoda guided Luke  on Dagoba. If you think of a person as a computer and our bodies as hardware, language and culture seem to be the software. Deeper stilll, and apparently common to all homo sapiens, is a sort o built-in operating system which interprets the world by sorting people, places, things and experiences as archetypes. 
      Campbell's contribution was to take this idea of archetypes and use it to map out the common underlying structure behind religion and myth. He proposed this idea in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which provides examples of cultures from cultures throughout history and from all over the world. Campbell eloquently demonstrates that all stories are expressions of the same monomyth. This sounds like a simple idea, but it suggest an incredible ramification, which Campbell summed up with his adage "All religions are true, but none are literal. That is, he concluded tha all religions are really containers for the same essential truth, and the trick is to avoid mistaking the wrappings for the diamond.
      Lucas had already written two drafts of Star Wars when he rediscovered Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1975 (having read it years before in college). This blueprint** for the Hero's Journey gave Lucas the focus he needed to draw his sprawling imaginary universe into a single story. (**And also how and why millions of people still resonate  to the original Star Wars Trilogy as well as Jesus and  .)
                            Source -

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