Friday, March 12, 2010

Looking at the impact of symbols (part 1)

I want to start to explore a couple symbols that have been reoccuring themes in my life here on Modern Mythology. They are symbols I've dealt with on here many times before but I want to take a look at how they played into my life, hopefully to serve as a sort of example. By "symbols" I'm actually referring to entire constellations of symbols that most people refer to as Gods- like Dionysus- or demons, like Lilith. I like the word "symbol" better because it is more open ended, and passes no real judgement on the nature of what's being symbolized. I don't want to get into a discussion of what is "real" or not. Let that play out in the rendering. Our lives are real enough, or if not, then nothing is.

I'll be talking about past events, though I'll not be using people's full names. It's all done to serve as part of that example. I've finally reached a point in my life where my past no longer lures or haunts me, even if I still have something of an ongoing struggle with my expectations of the future. The story isn't about them, it's about me. Maybe this is probably the first point to make about symbols like this- they reflect us, and they can even obscure other people in their place. Jung noted this about the anima and animus. We can be so overtaken by the symbol evoked by an individual that our internal relationship becomes entirely with the symbol; our relationship with the person behind that symbol atrophies, if it was ever there at all. There's a lot I could say about that, but it'd lead me far off course. Hopefully I'll remember to return.

There's also an extent to which these themes reoccur because we pick them out of the lineup- there are countless mythological symbols out there, but only certain ones stick out to us, almost as if the others didn't exist. This speaks volumes about us, but little else. I think a lot of damage has been wreaked throughout history as a result of people being overwhelmed by the power of an image that appears to them, followed by the miopic assumption that the presence, significance, reality of that symbol was an imperative for everyone else as well.

3 comments:

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  2. Hello my friend,

    I enjoy the work you are doing here very much. I recently did an interview with someone who also considers himself a proficient reader of modern mythology Mr. John David Ebert who is the author of Celluloid Heroes and Mechanical Dragons: Film as the Mythology of Electronic Society. You should come check it out and tell me what you think.

    www.youtube.com/SingleEyeMovement

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  3. @Benton - If I'm not mistaken, JD Ebert is the partner of John Lobell in a web project about myth and cinema. I talked with John a bit, and he sent me some interesting articles that I read through. I also sent him a very early version of the Immanence of Myth essays I was working on - perhaps he didn't realize quite how early those were, in my idea, notes really - he gave me an honest but somewhat stern assessment of the material.

    For better or worse it did help steer me towards something I had already been considering, which was opening the project up to contributions and making it more of an anthology style project. Of course, in the time since, the project has evolved quite a bit.

    At any rate, yes, I've heard of him.

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