Fiction Vs Myth

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Andy created the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

A fundamental belief among the jedi and jedi mythology is that Lucas was trying to tell a story and impart a new sense of religion for a modern age. He was a student of Joseph Campbell and he was a believer in the power of myth as a delivery method for religious truth. While Lucas did not set out to start a new religion, he was playing with religious elements and symbolism.

Do you think the new Star Wars movies hold true to the idea of myth?

Do you believe they discarded an element of the mythology and belief system when they uncanonized the EU?

When does fiction become mythology?

A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

-Henry David Thoreau
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Jax replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

Episode 7 included multiple heroes journeys. So I'm unsure how they wouldn't be following mythology. Maybe I'm missing what you saw?
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Andy replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

Any story can be said to contain the hero’s journey. It does not nessisarlly mean it is also mythology. For example, in the hangover, the characters are faced with a quest, they embark, go through lessons and challenges, learn something, and return wiser. It does not nessisarlly follow.

1.) myth contains the hero’s journey
2.) the hangover follows the hero’s journey
3.) therefore the hangover is mythology.

However, that is not where I am going with it. I am using Star Wars as a method to challenge the original premise.

The original Star Wars stories purposefully toed the line between myth and fiction. I am asking if you believe the new Star Wars fiction is also bridging the gap between fiction and myth.

I am asking about the fundamentals of fiction and myth.

A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

-Henry David Thoreau
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

I once posted a long analysis of Luke's Hero Journey according to the steps defined by Joseph Campbell's works. I've not done it for the prequels… because… well, the prequels.

Here is a very sketchy look at Star Wars episode 7…


Ordinary World
First is Rey, female 'lead hero', of this movie. Rey is introduced as a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku. She is also waiting. For whom? We don't learn just yet.

Finn's 'ordinary world' is being a stormtrooper in the Empire's army. Since it is no longer a clone's only club, one can bet he is a general conscript… just like every one else in the Empire (except those who can bribe/deal their way out of serving as a ground pounder.)

Poe Dameron's 'ordinary world' is being a pilot in the Resistance fighting the First Order/Empire.

Call To Adventure
For Rey, it is the arrival of BB8 and Finn – who basically pull her into an attack on her home by First Order stormtroopers.

Finn breaks from the ranks of the First Order after the slaughter of the nomaidc encampment. He runs and stumbles into Rey and BB8. This triggers attacks on the small 'town' Rey lives near. The 'wake up call' that the 'real world' (The Empire) can step into the 'ordinary world' at any time – usually, with dire consequences.

Poe is attacked by the First Order. He is captured and sent to be interrogated.

Refusal Of The Call
Rey is in it hip deep but she keeps saying she has to get back to Jakku. Still waiting for that mysterious 'someone'. Adventure must take the backseat to 'obligation'.

Heck, Finn just wants to run. Far far away.

Poe… he's long beyond this point in his life. He was kind of born into the Resistance and does not 'see' a reason for refusing to fight for what is right.

Meeting The Mentor
Rey, Finn, and BB8 meet 'a' mentor. Han Solo. Though I doubt Han sees himself in that role.

Poe? He's all tied up in a cell.

Crossing The Threshold
This was really when Rey, Finn, and BB8 hoped in the Millenium Falcon to escape their attackers. Literally, you could say she 'flew the backdoor' of her home (scavenger area ship) and 'crossed the airlock' when the Falcon got pulled into the larger ship Han and Chewie were on.

Poe? He's still chilling in a cell.

Tests, Allies, Enemies
The initial attempt to buy BB8. The First Order attack on her 'town/camp'. The wild monster run on Solo's borrowed ship. Meeting Maz Kanata at her 'castle'.

Approach To The Inmost Cave
Rey is lured by the whispers from 'that chest'. It is not as scary as a swampy, black tree but, it does pull at her.

Finn… is along for the ride… as long as the ride is 'away'.

Poe? Mmm… maybe there is a chance for a 'side movie' about his personal journey?

Ordeal
I would definitely say this is when Rey is strapped to the 'interrogation slab' and getting mind probed by Kylo Renn. She's been a plucky sort up to now and taken all in stride. This is kind of her 'wake up' call. (and he awakening of Force abilities?)

Finn? Poe? These guys need a better script writing agent.

Reward (Seizing The Sword)
Skip a lot of action to get here. Finn AND Rey have their hands on 'the sword'… or in this case, a special lightsaber. Finn uses it like a club or whamming stick. Rey seems to instinctually flow into a battle form. I say this since her 'preferred weapon' before this seemed to be her staff.

The Road Back
At this point, the hero typically begins his journey back to the ordinary world from the beginning. Rey, Finn and Poe begin this stage, too, but they aren't heading back to Jakku. Instead, their 'ordinary world' is one without the Empire. As such, their 'road back' requires them all to step up and join the Resistance in a greater battlefront.

Resurrection
I suppose we could say this is Master Luke Skywalker's return. But, for now, he has not.

R2D2's suddenly 'resurrection' so he can complete the map that 'finds' Skywalker's hidey hole?

Return With The Elixir
An elixir is a magical potion that is meant to bring about a positive effect. One can only hope that Rey's 'returning the lightsaber' to Master Skywalker will have a positive effect.


Note that these don't always fall into the linear 'order' outlined here.
In both the original Star Wars movie (4th) and The Force Awakens (7th), the Refusal of the Call is underlined most after the Meeting up with the Mentor – Luke turns down Ben Kenobi's offer to fly off to save the princess; Rey asks Han Solo to return her to Jakku.


And there are plenty more things one could micro analyze in this movie. I *did* say this is just a quick sketch!
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

An FYI... for those who might want to 'do' a analysis from the female point of view... I found an interesting "Female Hero's Journey" list...

The Heroine's Journey
(adapted from Maureen Murdock)

STAGE

1. SEPARATION FROM THE FEMININE

2. IDENTIFICATION WITH THE MASCULINE & GATHERING OF ALLIES

3. ROAD OF TRIALS, MEETING OGRES & DRAGONS

4. FINDING THE BOON OF SUCCESS

5. AWAKENING TO FEELINGS OF SPIRITUAL ARIDITY: DEATH

6. INITIATION & DESCENT TO THE GODDESS

7. URGENT YEARNING TO RECONNECT WITH THE FEMININE

8. HEALING THE MOTHER/DAUGHTER SPLIT

9. HEALING THE WOUNDED MASCULINE

10. INTEGRATION OF MASCULINE & FEMININE
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

Re: Fiction becoming Myth

Coming from the Greek word - mythos - myth means story or word. Therefore, Mythology is the study of myth.

As stories (or narratives), myths articulate how characters undergo or enact an ordered sequence of events. Over time though, the term myth has come to refer to a certain genre (or category) of stories that share characteristics that make this genre distinctly different from other genres of oral narratives, such as legends and folktales. Many definitions of myth repeat similar general aspects of the genre.

Icarus flying too close to the sun. Jason and the Golden Fleece. Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Yes, they might have been based in 'real history' to some degree (some more 'real' than others) but, it is the 'lessons' which we can learn from the telling (and retelling) of these myths which give them strength and endurance. Joseph Campbell & George Lucas knew the power of myth and how they all were versions of the Hero's Journey.

Perhaps the basics are 'pure fiction' -- a galaxy far, far away; robots and droids; lightsabers and spaceships -- instead of sailing ships; unknown lands and peoples to explore and/or conquer; princesses to save -- but, the same lessons apply. Growth, Change, Discovery, Healing... etc. etc.
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Andy replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

It has been argued that the monomyth is detrimental to mythology. Yes alot myth does follow this framework, not all. Nor does it take into account other mythological frameworks like the female hero’s journey. Which is sort of sexist. It is in these minutia that remove the cultural context and just paint everything with the monomyth brush that we lose what might separate them in various ways, which is also sort of imperialist.

It has Also been said that it is creating a cheap method for entertainers to impart profundity with little effort. So is it a true mytholigal statement or is it simply aping for ratings? “Hey lets just tell the episode 4 story Again”

A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

-Henry David Thoreau
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

Now you are REALLY talking about myth -- The Hollywood Creation Myth -- or "How do we repeat this success so we get richer?" TV and movies are really bad about this. If it 'worked' once, we need to see if we can reproduce 'the lightning'. As history shows, lightning seldom strikes twice in the same spot. (there ARE exceptions... with lightning and movies...)

At one time, myth was seldom spoken of in public without a sneer. After all, 'we' educated people were/are so beyond 'those simple times' that we THINK we don't need silly stories with silly monsters or adventures. (Even though we flock to stage productions, operas, and movies all the time... to get those same lessons!)

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces Campbell writes,

It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid.

We need adequate stories that bring magic and make meaning. Without them we swallow isms, fads, slogans, gadgets, violent fundamentalisms, and we are lucky if the worst we get is emotional indigestion.


Study history, philosophies, and religions and you find that the great spiritual teachers, culture bringers, warriors, and saints are seen as examples of Heroes who obey a Call to Adventure to descend into the depths of the time and of themselves, fight the dragon (whatever its form), obtain the great treasure it guards, and bring it back to the dayworld.

Here in the U.S., we eat, sleep, and breathe the ideals of the Hero, at least in some weird form or another. Every other movie poster shows a man holding a weapon (typically, a gun.) Everyone who does a simple decent thing by returning a lost wallet or pulling a drunk from out in front of a bus is nominated a 'Hero' by the press (while forgetting to salute the 'unsung' heroes that are doing 'good' every bloody day -- police, medical folk, teachers, regular folk...). Star Wars rode the Journey to success despite such poor writing that the actors complained about their childish Flash Gordon-esque scripted lines. The football is nothing more (nor less) than a clashing competition of well-paid helmeted Heroes. And still, we go watch those movies / those sports and cheer 'the hero' and boo 'the villain'.

If one wanted to, we could say... on the other hand...

Primus -- the Hero isn’t always a good guy.
Gilgamesh, the first great Hero figure in Western lore, hacked down a forest, gave the goddess Ishtar the brush-off, and raped his women subjects. Herakles destroyed his own family. Cuchulainn got into such battle frenzies that he had to be plunged into nine vats of water just to cool off after a fight. He died as reckless as he had always been.

Secundus -- the archetype Hero does not fit everyone who attains to it.
Through many myths it carries quite specific features, including impulsivity that needs tempering, eloquence that wants training, lethally assertive cunning, large appetites, and an attraction to danger. (“Risk is our business” says James Kirk.) The Hero also tends to swing between loyalty and cynicism, Lancelot providing a characteristic hot-cold example. The pendulum swings to both extremes, I guess.

Third -- The Hero of myth may or may not undergo transformation.
In Asian cultures he tends not to. Peach Boy is pretty much the same after his adventures as before. But Campbell’s Hero suffers inner change as a model to his entire society. That is true of Thor (Norse mythic Thor -- not the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Thor) and Odysseus, but not of Beowulf or Fionn mac Cumhaill.

Quatro -- the Hero always constellates the monster.
In a sense he is the monster. When one appears, the other soon follows.

* * * * *
As you noted, Campbell's monomyth is limiting. It is useful but, not 'all there is'.
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Andy replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

This corruption of myth my popular entertainment has a name and is explored by a few authors. It’s known as the “American Monomyth”. It’s tentamount to propaganda. American entertainers have pretty much realized that these successful enterprises follow the heroic idea because that’s what sells tickets. Reinforcing the American ideal, especially in post 9-11 America is hugely popular.

As you pointed out there are many mythological stories that do not fit that scheme.

The anti-hero is a good example of this.

The monomyth has obviously not been played out as far as our draw to it. It can definitely be found in almost every action movie that has been released as well as other entertainment categories. When I see it now it’s almost like a trope that people default to. Anime is a good example. There are a few that you can pretty much plan out on a chart what’s going to happen. Uncontested hero get his butt whipped by new villain, hero goes into emotional breakdown, gets set strait by loved one, trains and grows, challenges villain again, gets beat but finds hidden power and wins in the end. Repeat till you have eight seasons.

At this point is simply checking off the hero’s journey’s boxes enough to call it mythology anymore? There surely has to be more to it than that, especially with the American Monomyth being pushed so heavily.

A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

-Henry David Thoreau
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Andy replied the topic: Fiction Vs Myth

Campbell was a great supporter of art as a reflection of society and a spur to change. The story teller as an artist for example. Mythology would rightly be catigorized as art because it spurs a change in the viewer. It guides, instructs and reflects society.

Art however does not repeat previous successes. It must change as society changes. Otherwise it is just a reproduction of something great someone else did. Star Wars successeded previously because it did something that had not happened before, it changed people, it enlightened and inspired. In this way it was both myth and art. However are we getting the old hero’s story told in a new way, or are we getting the old hero’s story told in an old way?

I have a hard time reconciling the fact that we are getting more of the same. It’s like if someone today painted the monalisa perfectly. That person would be skilled, but not nessisarlly an artist.

I feel like if Campbell were around today, he might agree that the new Star Wars movies are following a mythological format, but are lacking the artistic qualities that were present in previous myths.

A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

-Henry David Thoreau
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