Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why Mythology?

I have been asked many times in the last few weeks why I am about to enter a Mythological Studies program. People ask me what I am going to do when it's completed. "How much does a mythologist get paid?" some chortle. My answers have been evasive. We don't like to be chortled at usually. For those that were sincere, it was hard to give a clear answer. My reasons are there, but have been bubbling up, still out of reach.

But clarity has struck me. My thoughts became a bit clearer as I have delved into my school readings, been away from the corporate world for a while and watched the political conventions over the last week and a half.

Mythology is the study of the stories humans tell to explain their world. They are stories filled with the archetypes and symbols of humans throughout the ages. Even when a story is outdated for how it tells us to lead our lives, those archetypes and symbols still pull us in. Our minds are able to play with them and use them, figuring out our own lives.

The archetypes and symbols are used in our films and stories. Our artists use this mythological world to express the inner life that we all have, even if we struggle to express it. Even if we repress it. Artists help us to figure out how to use it.

And I am interested in these things because I really believe that paying attention to our unconscious, the place where these archetypes lie, and our dreams, where they are expressed, and our sudden insights and thoughts, where they finally come out and become useful to us, are the only way we can be fully human. We have to use everything we have, and too often we ignore this part of ourselves. But too often these internal, personal issues are used as public tools.

Religion is mythology. As such, it is a personal interplay with your unconscious. Personal. The stories of all religions are reflections of someone's unconscious. They should be used as internal meditations of your own personal possibilities. You have a responsibility to listen to yourself and figure out what you are about. But as myth, no religion should ever be forced on anyone else. It is inhuman to do that. Your faith in something should be kept to yourself if you don't realize that everyone in the world has different ways of getting to know themselves.

The corporate culture is about money. Nothing else. The political culture is often about producing a show that will put you in power so you and your friends can get money. Sort of a corporation also.

I am about to study mythology because I want to explore how we can change this culture. I want the creative power we all hold in ourselves to be the strength of the people of the world, not guns and money. Our political leaders use religion to lure voters to them. Religion should never be used as a ruse. God - or gods - unless they are the God or gods in you - do not make decisions for you.


Nikki said...

Hey Joe - I love your blog! Great statements in all your posts. I ejoyed reading your definition of mythology here. :) ~ Your fellow mythologist, Nikki

Joe Muszynski said...

Nikki - I think Prof. Chris Downing was quoting Wendy Doniger when she said it was brave to define mythology. I guess I was being brave and didn't realize it at the time!

Sincere Thanks for reading (and commenting!)


James said...

This is just a terrific peace of writing. I’m endeavoring to enter a Mythological Studies program myself and this was just what I needed to hear. Thanks for the great post!

Joe Muszynski said...

Thanks, James - nice to hear it helped.