Tuesday, March 26th 2024

The “hero’s journey” isn’t as universal as you think

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins' quiet life changes when Gandalf offers him an adventure. Reluctant at first, Bilbo joins dwarves to reclaim their homeland. Despite doubts, Bilbo becomes their key savior, aiding in defeating Smaug. The story follows Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, with eight key steps shaping many famous narratives, from Harry Potter to Star Wars. Campbell's influential monomyth concept, while widely embraced, faces modern critiques challenging its universality and relevance. Campbell's eclectic influences, from art to psychology, shaped his groundbreaking analysis of myths and storytelling structures.

« Le trail devient réservé aux classes sociales favorisées » déplore l’organisateur de la SkyRhune 

The SkyRhune race in the Basque Country will conclude after its next edition on September 21st, as announced by organizer Nicolas Darmaillacq. The decision stems from a two-year reflection by Darmaillacq and fellow volunteers, who feel disconnected from the commercialization of trail running. The event, founded by a group of friends, will end on its 10th symbolic edition due to concerns about the sport's rapid evolution towards profit-driven values, including doping and commercialization. Darmaillacq expresses discomfort with the shift in trail running culture and the negative impacts of money on the sport. The discussion also touches on the participation of elite athletes in races for financial gain, highlighting concerns about the future of trail running.

The Middle Passage: A Jungian Field Guide to Finding Meaning and Transformation in Midlife

The Inferno by Dante and Elizabeth Peabody's caution on middle age are echoed in James Hollis' The Middle Passage, where he illuminates the transformative journey of midlife. Hollis describes the clash between the true self and acquired persona, leading to profound awakening. He emphasizes the impact of unexamined conditioning from family and culture on our choices and perceptions. Hollis identifies coping mechanisms developed in childhood as haunting reflexes that shape our adult personalities, urging us to unravel these unconscious complexes for true self-discovery.

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Is the hero's quest a universal myth? Not so sure. I often find myself questioning grand narratives, seeking what lies beyond the obvious. The article on Campbell's "hero's journey" reminds me of my own doubts about the universality of myths. Just like in my dreams, where I face insurmountable personal challenges, I realize that each story is unique, despite its apparent similarities with others. The modern critique of Campbell, mentioned in the article, resonates with my own skepticism towards overly rigid structures.

The evolution of trail running, becoming the preserve of the wealthy, strikes a chord with me. In my journal, I write about my passion for mountain biking and gravel riding, about this quest for a pure experience untainted by money. The article on the SkyRhune raises a similar issue: excessive commercialization turns an authentic activity into a luxury product. This evolution bothers me, as it betrays the original spirit of these disciplines, just as the relentless pursuit of novelty in literature distances me from rusty yet popular molds.

Lastly, the article on "The Middle Passage" and the midlife crisis catches my attention. It speaks of confronting oneself, of the need to deconstruct the masks accumulated over the years. I experience this introspection through writing, seeking to touch something true, something yet unexplored. Like Hollis, I believe we must face our unconscious complexes to discover our true essence. This reminds me of my own quest, one for authenticity in a world where everything seems already written.

In essence, each story, each life is a unique quest, shaped by personal challenges and inner reflections. Universal myths can provide a framework, but it is in our singularities that our true essence lies. As I have often thought, "we writers have a mission to reinvent stories," to harmonize our lives with reality, in an endless quest for meaning.


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