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Journey to the Sea #9 -- Mythical Thinking

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  • hoytrand
    I have published the ninth issue of my online myth magazine Journey to the Sea [http://journeytothesea.com/]. This issue includes an article on Doris Lessing,
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 4 6:57 PM
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      I have published the ninth issue of my online myth magazine Journey
      to the Sea [http://journeytothesea.com/%5d. This issue includes an
      article on Doris Lessing, who came up recently in a discussion about Charles Williams.

      More interesting, I think, is an article contrasting mythical thinking and logical thinking (*mythos* and *logos*). I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this list about mythical thinking: what value (if any) you've found in mythical thinking? How did you came to embrace mythical thinking in the midst of such a logic-heavy cultural? How do you think we can best integrate mythical and logical thinking today?

      Enjoy!
      ~Randy


      --------


      Mythos & Logos: Two Ways of Explaining the World
      http://journeytothesea.com/mythos-logos/
      ----
      We humans beings have used both mythical thinking and logical thinking to explain the world around us. Distinguishing between these can help us understand mythic narratives, both ancient and modern.


      Biblical Narratives in Doris Lessing's Shikasta
      http://journeytothesea.com/lessing-shikasta/
      ----
      Randy examines Doris Lessing's use of material from Genesis in her science-fiction novel Shikasta, arguing that Lessing is a strong advocate for the potential for the products of mythical thinking to address problems in the modern world.


      Life of Aesop: The Wise Fool and the Philosopher
      http://journeytothesea.com/aesop-wise-fool/
      ----
      Laura explores three anecdotes from the legendary Life of Aesop, showing Aesop outwitting his rivals. Aesop used logical thinking and mythical thinking to provide comic relief and surprising insight into the nature of the world.
    • David Bratman
      ... (if any) you ve found in mythical thinking? How did you came to embrace ... To put it in one line: logic doesn t produce art.
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 4 7:33 PM
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        Randy Hoyt wrote:

        > More interesting, I think, is an article contrasting mythical thinking
        >and logical thinking (*mythos* and *logos*). I would love to hear
        >the thoughts of others on this list about mythical thinking: what value
        (if any) you've found in mythical thinking? How did you came to embrace
        >mythical thinking in the midst of such a logic-heavy cultural? How do
        >you think we can best integrate mythical and logical thinking today?

        To put it in one line: logic doesn't produce art.
      • Sara Ciborski
        ... Granting your right to set up a contrast for the purposes of your article, I would like to point out that in ancient Greek the word Logos, which you say
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 5 6:11 AM
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          --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "hoytrand" <randy@...> wrote:

          > More interesting, I think, is an article contrasting mythical thinking and logical thinking (*mythos* and *logos*).

          Granting your right to set up a contrast for the purposes of your article, I would like to point out that in ancient Greek the word Logos, which you say means "account," had many meanings and carried all of them at once: word, power of the word, meaning, capacity for meaning, understanding, power of understanding, reason, source of all meaning, language, utterance. Logos in this sense is primary, fundamental to all communication, and thus mythical thinking, as you describe it in your article, depends on or arises from Logos. There is logic (in this fundamental sense) in any myth or fantasy or work of art--otherwise it wouldn't speak to us, wouldn't be meaningful. What you call logical thinking in your article perhaps might rather be termed materialistic thinking (expressing a dualistic world view). But again, the contrast you set up is important and it is of course legitimate for you to define your own terms.

          Sara Ciborski

          >
          > --------
          >
          >
        • hoytrand
          Sara, Yes, the Greek words *mythos* and *logos* are quite tricky. While some Greek authors treat them nearly as opposites meaning two fundamentally different
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 5 7:01 AM
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            Sara,

            Yes, the Greek words *mythos* and *logos* are quite tricky. While some Greek authors treat them nearly as opposites meaning two fundamentally different kinds of account, others use them nearly as synonyms both meaning something like "story". In Stoic philosophy (and possibly even in Heraclitus), *logos* means a divine ordering principle. In Christian theology, *logos* is used to refer to Christ in his role as creator and sustainer. The relationship between these two words in Greek is just a mess.

            Transliterations of those two Greek words have become a sort of shorthand in English and other modern languages that scholars in many different fields use to discuss these two ways of thinking. I feel comfortable using the transliterations in this shorthand way, but I would not claim that the Greek words themselves always (or even often) contain this distinction. I definitely struggled when writing the article, trying to stay away from both over-complication and over-simplification. Every attempt I made at explaining this complexity spun out of control and bogged the whole thing down; it worked better for this short article to err towards "too simple". :~)

            Thanks,
            ~randy
          • Alana
            I commented over at the article itself, but thought I would echo myself here--both On Fairy Stories and Barfield s _Saving the Appearances_ have quite a lot
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 5 7:18 AM
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              I commented over at the article itself, but thought I would echo myself here--both "On Fairy Stories" and Barfield's _Saving the Appearances_ have quite a lot to say about the consciousness with which we, as products of a highly logic/reason/progress-based worldview, interact with a pre-logical or mythic consciousness. (_Saving the Appearances_ on the whole is about this topic and the evolution of consciousness; Tolkien's essay has the wonderful section about Thor, which I think is most applicable in context.)

              I think mythic thought, in the way you're using it, is important in allowing the world to have (or giving it back) *meaning*, something which a more reason/rationalist approach has devalued in favor of observation and fact.

              -Alana
            • hoytrand
              Alana, I ll echo my response here, too ... especially since this list is probably a better source for information about Barfield. I really do need to check out
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 5 8:06 AM
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                Alana,

                I'll echo my response here, too ... especially since this list is probably a better source for information about Barfield. I really do need to check out *Saving the Appearances*. Does Barfield want us simply to have a better understanding of "pre-logical or mythic consciousness"? Or does he want us to somehow re-enter into that consciousness for ourselves?

                Drawing on David Bratman's comment about art, it seems like art is a way that we modern folks can still participate in that mythic consciousness somehow and (as Alana says) give the world back its *meaning*. Would Barfield agree with this? Is this something we can really achieve? Are their other ways besides art that we can achieve it?

                Thoughts?
                ~randy
              • Alana Joli Abbott
                ... Without getting into the whole book, Barfield distinctly does not advocate a return to mythic consciousness. Logical thought is simply too useful! (He
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 5 8:30 AM
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                  >
                  > >Does Barfield want us simply to have a better understanding of
                  > "pre-logical or >mythic consciousness"? Or does he want us to somehow
                  > re-enter into that >consciousness for ourselves?
                  >


                  Without getting into the whole book, Barfield distinctly does not advocate a
                  return to mythic consciousness. Logical thought is simply too useful! (He
                  distinguishes the patterns of consciousness in his own terms, which are a
                  little more clarified than "mythic" and "logical.") Rather, he thinks
                  there's a further form of consciousness that involves both observation/facts
                  *and* meaning, which he calls Final Participation. I think the correlation
                  of Final Participation and art is not a bad one, but I'm in the midst of
                  rereading Saving the Appearances and don't want to get ahead of myself on
                  that--it's been some time since I've studied it.
                  Hopefully, my short description doesn't do the book disservice. :)

                  -Alana

                  --
                  Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (
                  http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
                  Author of "Nomi's Wish" (
                  http://coyotewildmag.com/2008/august/abbott_nomis_wish.html), featured in
                  Coyote Wild Magazine
                  Contributor to Serenity Adventures: http://tinyurl.com/serenity-adventures
                  Contributor to Ransom: The Anthology: http://tinyurl.com/ransombook
                  --
                  For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at
                  http://groups.google.com/group/alanajoliabbottfans


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                • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
                  Alana s observations are close to the approach I took in my book, *The Scribbler s Guide to the Land of Myth*. Of course, I was specifically interested in
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 5 8:52 AM
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                    Alana's observations are close to the approach I took in my book, *The
                    Scribbler's Guide to the Land of Myth*. Of course, I was specifically
                    interested in mythic motifs in storytelling, but I needed to come up with
                    a theory about myth for myself to ground the whole.

                    My conclusion (after years of consideration) is that mythic thinking is
                    NOT "PRE-logic". Rather it is simply another mode of thought. The
                    distinctions I made were not logical versus mythical -- mainly because
                    there IS a certain logic in mythic-thinking. The distinction I made is
                    between Objective (what might be called rational, linear) and Subjective
                    (intuitive, and "meaning-loaded").

                    The example I use in my introduction is that we can know - Objectively -
                    that the sun is a ball of basic gases exploding and sending out light and
                    radiation, but that does not obliterate our *Subjective* reaction to the
                    sight of sunlight gleaming on high clouds, feeling that there's some
                    benevolent powerful being sitting up there sending light beams down to us.
                    Objective thinking is about what things ARE. Subjective thinking is
                    about what things MEAN (to the individual). Neither is "more important"
                    (or, more pertinently "more logical") than the other. We actually need
                    both aspects to be fully human. And Art - as David observed - comes from
                    our *Subjective* response. The Subjective is a synthetic response -
                    putting things together. The Objective response is analytic, taking
                    things apart.


                    > I commented over at the article itself, but thought I would echo myself
                    > here--both "On Fairy Stories" and Barfield's _Saving the Appearances_ have
                    > quite a lot to say about the consciousness with which we, as products of a
                    > highly logic/reason/progress-based worldview, interact with a pre-logical
                    > or mythic consciousness. (_Saving the Appearances_ on the whole is about
                    > this topic and the evolution of consciousness; Tolkien's essay has the
                    > wonderful section about Thor, which I think is most applicable in
                    > context.)
                    >
                    > I think mythic thought, in the way you're using it, is important in
                    > allowing the world to have (or giving it back) *meaning*, something which
                    > a more reason/rationalist approach has devalued in favor of observation
                    > and fact.
                    >
                    > -Alana
                    >
                    >
                    >
                  • David Emerson
                    ... Even in your world, that is not what a star is, merely what it is made of. -- Aslan emerdavid ________________________________________ PeoplePC Online A
                    Message 9 of 10 , Mar 5 9:04 AM
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                      >From: scribbler@...
                      >
                      >...we can know - Objectively -
                      >that the sun is a ball of basic gases exploding and sending out light and
                      >radiation, but that does not obliterate our *Subjective* reaction to the
                      >sight of sunlight gleaming on high clouds, feeling that there's some
                      >benevolent powerful being sitting up there sending light beams down to us.

                      "Even in your world, that is not what a star is, merely what it is made of."
                      -- Aslan

                      emerdavid

                      ________________________________________
                      PeoplePC Online
                      A better way to Internet
                      http://www.peoplepc.com
                    • Alana Joli Abbott
                      ... Oooh, I hadn t remembered that line! That s very much tied into the concept of the represented vs. representations that Barfield discusses as well. :)
                      Message 10 of 10 , Mar 5 11:15 AM
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                        On Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 12:04 PM, David Emerson <emerdavid@...>wrote:

                        > "Even in your world, that is not what a star is, merely what it is made
                        > of."
                        > -- Aslan
                        >
                        > emerdavid
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >

                        Oooh, I hadn't remembered that line! That's very much tied into the concept
                        of the represented vs. representations that Barfield discusses as well. :)

                        -Alana

                        --
                        Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (
                        http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
                        Author of "Nomi's Wish" (
                        http://coyotewildmag.com/2008/august/abbott_nomis_wish.html), featured in
                        Coyote Wild Magazine
                        Contributor to Serenity Adventures: http://tinyurl.com/serenity-adventures
                        Contributor to Ransom: The Anthology: http://tinyurl.com/ransombook
                        --
                        For updates on my writings, join my mailing list at
                        http://groups.google.com/group/alanajoliabbottfans


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