About the (Blog) Author

Loving wife–Proud pet mamma–Renegade mythologist (now new and improved with a PhD YEAH!)–Cultural Commentator. Yup, that’s me. I live in Santa Barbara, California. My favorite activity is spending time with my two bestest people…my husband Bruce, and my cocker dog Lucy. I worked for my husband’s landscape contracting business for about eight years…www.downtoearthlandscapesinc.com.

I recently finished a 5 year stint as a grad student studying Mythology. Got a Masters and a PhD. In case you were about to ask, the topic of my dissertation is Disneyland. I am approaching the topic of Disneyland from the point of view of what I call mythic ritual, specifically that Disneyland fulfills the need for ritual in the psyche (for some) offering a mythic pilgrimage. I will be blogging more about this topic as it comes up. You can watch for it if you feel so inclined.

My passions for film, folk art and literature are matched only by my passion for an exploration of the archetypal in contemporary society. To that end, I take little stock in the typical (not to mention tired) academic attitude that contemporary society is a mythic wasteland, and that western civilization is the root of all the worlds ills. Frankly, I am sick of the self loathing that this attitude engenders in the people to whom this western culture belongs. Although the criticisms are well taken, we cannot and should not slough off our (American) heritage entirely.

My approach to myth is the attempt to understand the ways a culture’s mythic system (or systems, as I firmly believe that a culture can sit with more than one story at a time) are a reflection of that culture’s soul, warts and all, and to find nuggets of truth in these stories. In particular, I am interested in the ways archetypal images break through in popular culture. Through this blog, I peep through this keyhole into popular culture, and explore my own questions of its relationship to the soul of both humanity and the world writ large.

People often ask me how I got into the study of myth. The answer is simple: stories, stories and all kinds of stories. Our stories awaken the deepest aspects of humanity and connect the imaginal to the physical. Sadly, contemporary societies not only devalue the classic stories traditionally understood to be mythic, but also deny the importance of our popular stories, thereby stripping away our basic human need to connect our bodies and souls to BIG, CONTEMPORARY MYTHS.

Even more sadly, in academic circles, where the ancient offerings of cultures past are perserved and appreciated, contemporary, popular myth and ritual making are often overlooked, or more commonly, ignored completely and dismissed. This presents a problem. High art, in the sense of high myth, is inaccessible (whether physically or psychologically) to a large population of humanity, and the so called “low or popular art” (which Joseph Campbell disasterously called pornographic art) is largely dismissed. If we dismiss that which resonates with most of humanity, how then are we to connect with our soul(s), and futhermore, to our place in the order of animal soul(s) and the soul(s) of planet Earth?

With a vast multitude of authority figures telling worshipful students that in order to truly be in touch with intellect, psyche and the body they must adhere to a traditionally approved canon of myths, it’s no wonder we have cognitive dissonance…and it’s no wonder that so much of humanity has abandoned religion. This codified mythic experience squashes imagination just as much as any controlled, commodified hyperreal environment does, and I suggest, even more so. It is fundamentalism at its most insidious as it denies the very presence of its own dogmatism.

That is why I got into mythology: to encounter creative vehicles to the soul from an engaged point of view, to argue with scientists that science is its own (dogmatic/religious) mythology, and to crack other academics over the heads with their copies of Ovid and Homer and remind them not to take themselves so blasted seriously.


10 responses to “About the (Blog) Author

  1. Dear,

    May I inform you that I wrote a book, De l’Ancien Monde, in french, about mythology.

    This book introduces a new point of view: mythology would be the memory of life as a fetus.

    The tree of life would be the placenta;
    The snake in the tree, the umbilical cord;
    The flood, the amniotic liquid that falls at birth;
    The ark, the amniochorionic membran that protects the fetus;
    Adam, the fetus;
    Eva, the umbilical cord, close to the fetus;
    Noah, the fetus that goes to birth;

    It tooks twenty years to achieve the book -520 pages.

    Do you think it could be interesting for persons related with mythology in the USA?


    Francois Dor

    • I think it would be of much interest to mythologists in the USA, particularly the ones that come from the Jungian tradition. Perhaps contact my alma mater Pacifica Graduate Institute. http://www.pacifica.edu. Is there any possibility of a translation? I know only a few colleagues fluent enough in French to be able to read it. I myself have only beginner knowledge of French.

  2. Love your site! Keep up the good work ❤

  3. joshbertetta

    From one Pacifica grad to the next, digging your blog

  4. Druscilla French, Ph.D. in mythology

    Delighted to find your blog. Thank you for your insights and your willingness to write them. I once wrote a paper at Pacifica about Walt Disney, and how he tried to create a mythology for the brand new baby boomers. There was a joke in our myth class that if you saw a Boomer driving a Range Rover, there was probably a coonskin cap in the back of his closet. Peter Pans zoomed around in Porsches. So happy to see the tradition continues and thrives.

    • Excellent! I’m so excited to connect with you as well Druscilla! In regards to your paper, I think that is fantastic! I’m totally down with the Peter Pans and Boomer Range Rover metaphors. Back in 2009, I went to the D23 Expo and got to ask some of the surviving imagineers who worked with Walt about mythology and their sense about their own participation in the creation of it. Most of them were like…”uh…we didn’t know. Walt told us to create a monorail, so we created a monorail.” But one person in particular–(Alice Davis) spoke to an understanding of the cultural impact of Disney animation as a great American art form.” John Hench wrote about Disney, myth, and ritual a bit. And Don Hahn (producer The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast as well as a Disney animator) gave a talk at the 2011 D23 Expo on creativity and why we create. It was pretty much an hour long talk on Jung and archetypal theory. Needless to say, I asked him about that. His answer: the company is out to make money. The artists intuit something deeper in what they are creating.” I’m just finishing turning my dissertation into a book. It will be out early/mid next year. The topic is Disneyland as temple to American mythology. Disneyland and the sacred pilgrimage. It will be called “The Mouse and The Myth: The Sacred Art and Secular Ritual of Disneyland.” I can’t wait to continue this conversation. The tradition is definitely alive and well. Check out my friend Priscilla Hobbs’ book too: “Walt’s Utopia: Disneyland and American Mythmaking.” It is out on Amazon. Again. Great to connect! Let’s keep chatting!

  5. awabbit

    Hello Dori!
    I’ve read all the comments here, and your replies. I must say, that as a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s work since 1992-3, I’ve never really encountered a better or more thoughtful and sensitive explanation of her use of the myth and the epic than yours. Yeah. Yeah. YEAH!
    When I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, we used The Golden Bough in my Mythology class. Campbell’s explanations of so many elements in the stories really resonated with me. When the TV series about Campbell was aired on PBS, I watched religiously. Life and family issues intervened and I never could follow through.
    Articulating my thoughts has always been something of a flail for me . You’ve captured what *I* feel about the story so very well. The actors are a channel for this magnificent work, and I believe that the production company has hit a grand slam with the casting, the writing, the production — all of it — in fact. Outlander — all of it — is like a glowing gem.
    What you write about the principal actors Heughan and Balfe and how they make *you* feel is the same for me. Thank you!
    Anne in North Hollywood

  6. Raj

    Thanks for the interesting blog! Would you be interested in connecting with a fellow mythologist? You can find out more about me at rajbalkaran.com. Regards, Raj.

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