Joseph Campbell: Ego Myth as Life Map
The first blog entry in this series contrasted physical Reality (“territory") vs. the personal ideas that we project onto that Reality. Humans function (indeed, survive) by creating abstract “maps” of Reality, based on what we "guess" is going on. As we grow older the Reality evolves on its own, but we continue to rely more on those familiar, habitual “maps” than on how the Reality has changed.
For more on this topic, cf. S. I. Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action. Or for more details on how “binary” thinking (understanding relationships merely as opposites, with no gray areas in between) check out this site:
Our abstracted constructs or “maps” are our belief systems, excuses for behavior, even language itself. Because we depend on our maps so much, they are as potent as the physical Reality they encode. Eventually, however, the existence of that physical Reality is rarely even acknowledged in society's messages: TV commercials, partisan spin on political policies, the disconnect between Global Warming and Nascar, and ... everyday trash.
MAP & TERRITORY: APPLICATIONS
1. 1992/ CBS Examples:
a. Dan Quayle, the Sarah Palin of his generation (except for political popularity), tried to deflect public attention from accusations of his own incompetency as a Vice-Presidential Candidate (and from genuine issues about racism, urban conditions, the economy, etc.) by imposing an irrelevant but sexier map onto the American experience at that time.
b. The follow-up news item below offers another example of how changes in the "territory"/Real World should make us reinterpret our "maps"/abstracted assumptions about Reality.
2. 1997/ Wag the Dog:
3. Anthems & Camp Meeting Songs Stir Emotions, But Is the Territory Drowned Out by the Map's Chartmakers?
a. "We Are the World" (... and New Testament Advocates)
b. Wag the Dog's Version
c. Cabaret's Version
d. ... Aber Besser auf Deutsch
e. Israeli "Settlement" Version: "This Sand is Mine"
f. Ministries Music: Infectious, Contagious, ... Viral?
a. McCain's 2/2/10 Map:
b. Gates & Mullen 11/29/10 Map:
c. McCain: We Cling to Our Maps Regardless of Territory
If my "Community" series kicks off with "Nothing to Begin With," I refer you to the last words of Mary, Queen of Scots, and to T. S. Eliot to elucidate my "ends" or prose ambitions:
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
T, S. Eliot, “East Coker”