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.