Tuesday, November 18, 2014


"One cannot predict the next mythology any more than one can predict tonight's dream; for a mythology is not an ideology. It is not something projected from the brain, but something experienced from the heart."
~ Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space

I love Joseph Campbell and I am grateful for the breadth of his work being recorded in some way. His books, interviews and presentations are fascinating and his creativity boundless. The above statement, two sentences, is packed with meaning.

"[T]he next my mythology..." What does that mean? Are mythologies created? Can they change or adapt to the current age? How much control do we have over their development? or their creation?

To better understand Campbell's statement, I looked for a definition for mythology that went beyond "a collection of myths" and found "...a set of legends, stories or beliefs, especially ones that have a religious or cultural tradition." In that context, each new or emerging culture could potentially develop its own mythology. I like that; it rings true in relation my experiences.

In the media, every 'generation' has received a reference term (Millenials, GenXers, Boomers, etc.). Each of those generations seems to develop some portion of its own mythology. What are the stories, the legends Boomers believe? What about Millenials? How are they different? How are they similar?

Belief in particular stories does come from the heart more than the head. There was a legend that grew around 9/11 regarding who had 'weapons of mass destruction.' Even though the reality proved different from that legend, many people choose to believe the myth.

Now there's a growing movement regarding Marriage Equality. The challenge from the old belief system and from the new mythology are clashing ~ and the new is emerging with a spreading victory across the country.
Although both of these are political situations, their truth lies in the beliefs of the people more than in anything solid. Our culture shifts with each new mythology as it builds momentum and finds footing. Joseph Campbell's statement bears validity today too.

What are the myths you've grown to believe? Do you think mythologies change with each new cultural group that arises? Have your beliefs shifted with the tide? or as you've grown older?

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