You can write on a wall with a fish heart, it's because of the phosphorus. They eat it. There are shacks like that down along the river. I am writing this to be as wrong as possible to you. Replace the door when you leave, it says. Now you tell me how wrong that is, how long it glows. Tell me.
It’s been a while now since I’ve interacted with you in the Twitterverse but it is lovely to be able to continue following you on here!
You summarize a topic so well that has been on my mind lately. I was recently looking for a good book in the sci-fi / fantasy bookstore and was realizing that I felt like there were not many stories (myths) for women my age/stage of life. I think what I was looking for was what you described when you were talking about stories of people who aren’t leaving the community for some adventure, but are embedded in one and want to serve it.
My adolescence/young adulthood, I felt was about figuring out who I was, what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, what my role is. However, the one reason that took forever to get past the threshold, was that it was so damn hard to figure out who I was. I had to burn through so many narratives, like layers of them, and not die once, but like 5 times to do so (including a literal NDE). I think there was something about “inner work” and spiritual culture itself that was tying me up. I was expecting to perfect something rather than accept it. I wanted to be enlightened or “healed” rather than just be a more mature version of Christina.
So I dunno what that’s about, but I feel our task in current times is often harder than it’s described in the classic myths. Maybe we have all bought into another overarching belief that’s more apt to keep us stuck, or maybe it’s just the economic conditions and the sorts of jobs we’re forced into, I dunno.
Your recent posts have been absurdly salient to where I'm at right now. Regardless of whether this continues or diverges, please keep going!
On the topic of this post, I would love to know if you can point to any sources on other story structures beyond the hero's journey. Particularly any connected to early adulthood, by these definitions. I was trying to find material on alternative structures a few months ago, but most of what I could find was thinly disguised versions of the hero's journey.
I wonder if some of these new myths might be found in A Thousand and One Nights, a book of magic?
This is wonderful, and the point you are making I agree with completely. I would make a slight adjustment, though. I think the problem is not the hero’s journey, as such, but the current tropic expression of the hero’s journey, for the hero’s journey is both a psychological story of the passage from adolescence to adulthood, but also a spiritual story of the journey of the soul to God or if you prefer to not use western mystical language, the journey of the innermost self to the ultimate ideal/being. This is emphasized by the Lord of the Rings, for instance, not actually being as simple as portrayed, although the movies do cut out the important nuance that would serve as counterpoints. But I agree, the thing that is lacking is real death, for “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground *and dies* it remains but a single grain, but if it dies, it will bear much fruit.” We refuse to allow any part of ourself to die, and so we rot into sterility.
Insightful post, thanks!
Sharing a recent essay by Bill Plotkin on this theme: Who’s Up for Building a Cathedral? Ecocentric Human Development, the Hero’s Journey, and Cultural Regeneration - https://www.animas.org/whos-up-for-building-a-cathedral-ecocentric-human-development-the-heros-journey-and-cultural-regeneration/
> A story about mentoring youths who are going on their own journeys doesn't actually fit the structure either
It’s a huge part of the entire hero’s journey…
And I don’t even care for the hero’s journey
This is an absolutely stellar read and definitely on my mind lately, so grateful to you for these insights. Hoping to find new stories.
<i>Yeah, I cried. My buddy next to me cried. I heard someone in the back of the theater choke out a sob. For whatever reason, the scene worked. It invited all of us into the intermingled grief and acceptance of the moment. (And then the heroes were rescued by "the claaaawwww," because of course they were it's a kids movie for god's sake.)</i>
I keep thinking about how disneyfying children's stories probably shares some of the blame for this - were there more developed adults in the times and places where fairy tales were more brutal? I wonder
raul ruiz poetics of cinema
What’s the most compelling alternative/adulthood myths you’ve found? Particularly in pop culture