This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
I am fully engaged in the process of creating my own myth. The truth smacks me like a glove. I have been wrong. I have spent the day—nay, every free moment in the past three days—reading, breathless, Carl Jung’s The Red Book and Memories, Dreams, Reflections, in conjunction with Rollo May’s The Cry for Myth, a text I attempted previously but never finished. And I see it now. I see what I’ve been doing. Recovering a sense of meaning in my own life through self-experimentation and exploration. Through the creation of my own stories, symbols. Poetry their ultimate fusion.
And myth is the missing dimension. The emotion. The color. All forms of feeling. The Spoonful of Sugar—that’s it! The infusion of humanity I’ve spent a lifetime looking for in literature, art, music, and education. And the resultant lack. All matters of intellect, debate, rationalism and abstraction. Like a barren desert. And I always looking for the beating heart. To reveal the soul of the thing through my own creative endeavors. I gain the profoundest wisdom and insight by journeying into myself and creating from those experiences. That’s the magic, and that’s the myth, and the creation of your own—that’s where you make it.
Myths are narrative patterns that give significance to our existence. Whether the meaning of existence is only what we put into life by our own individual fortitude, as Sartre would hold, or whether there is a meaning we need to discover, as Kirkegaard would state, the result is the same: myths are our way of finding this meaning and significance. Myths are like the beams in a house: not exposed to outside view, they are the structure which holds the house together so people can live in it. Myth making is essential in gaining mental health…
– Rollo May
The stories we tell ourselves. The patterns we act out all the time. The values we live by. Who we believe ourselves to be. How we are connected to one another. But I couldn’t see it. All this time, I couldn’t see it. Why? Beginning with the rewriting of my femininity. The creation of a new paradigm where there was, really, none. Order. Meaning. Dignity. Sanctity. This is also what Maslow means when he talks about sacralizing, or re-sacralizing—or reclaiming—parts of our identities. The restoration of dignity. Which is necessarily an individual task, and the only way is through a journey into oneself. One’s whole self.
Carl Jung was right. But I was so resistant to it. It’s the conception of myth that I’ve held onto for such a long time that’s wrong. That’s outmoded. The negative connotations, the flinching and disgust as I conjure images of myself as a student translating the classics from the original Latin. The Iliad. The Aeneid. Oh, those godforsaken poems. But, that was a long time ago, and while I’ve never been particularly drawn to classical mythology, I don’t need to be in order to understand the importance of myth. Because it’s a lived thing. Just like poetry. A living, breathing, changeable thing. Not old and stuck-up and stodgy. And I don’t need to identify with the desires and conflicts of archaic figures in order to find my inner goddess (in terms of an ancient figure I can’t relate to or to supplement a self that I already feel is complete). All the information—all the words and images that constitute my inner experiences—are already there for me to use. I look right at them. And the best thing I can do is create with them. That constitutes a forward-looking vision. (I got so close to this in Fishtail, with regard to femininity, but I never quite finished the sentence.)
The creative person does not need to be beholden to the regressive functions of myth but can and should create from those symbols instead. This is what pulls humanity forward. Especially in times of crisis. Indeed, Jung said two general sets of circumstances lead to the genesis of myth: personal crises and social crises that force some individuals into the collective unconscious in order to create a new way forward. It took the research into psychedelia (and illuminating discussions with two very insightful readers) for me to see it. To really see it in myself. To understand the significance of what I was noticing as I examined my own feelings, invented patterns out of the contents of my imagination. What these actions signified. The story-making. I am creating narratives of my own inward journeys. And the fun part is in finding new and entertaining ways to tell those stories. And this is myth-making. A much better definition than the one I used to know.
And Jung did it. When he realized he had no personal myth—no meaningful structure to his existence, no depth—after his break with Freud, he delved into himself and wrote his own story. Created art out of himself. A thought: I prefer not to reference classical texts/figures/symbols. What’s more contemporary is more directly meaningful to me. As if my soul was born sometime during the reign of Bob Dylan, when Ginsberg was poet king, and my mother was just becoming a flower child. (But a great deal of this is a matter of taste, self-chosen sensibility.) It is, foremost, my creativity that anchors me. That grounds me in the whole endeavor, makes of it a sacred, or near-sacred, experience. It is as Maslow says of peak experiencers:
From the point of view of the peak-experiencer, each person has his own private religion, which he develops out of his own private revelations in which are revealed to him his own private myths and symbols, rituals and ceremonials, which may be of the profoundest meaning to him personally and yet completely idiosyncratic, i.e., of no meaning to anyone else. But to say it more simply, each ‘peaker’ discovers, develops, and retains his own religion.
– A.H. Maslow
I am afraid The Red Book has got my full attention, and I must go. There is much to learn in the way of moving forward.