.rocks: Out-Groups

Fin Wake Indra Net, FinWakeIndraNet - Thinking in Democracy

Joseph Campbell @ age 81, 1986 - The Power of Myth, published in 1988 - page ???

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: this passage is an extreme statement of something that is inherent in most sociologically oriented mythologies. That is to say, love and compassion are reserved for the in-group, and aggression and abuse are projected outward on others. Compassion is to be reserved for members of your own group. The out-group is to be treated in a way described there in Deuteronomy.

     Now, today there is no out-group anymore on the planet. And the problem of a modern religion is to have such compassion work for the whole of humanity. But then what happens to the aggression? This is a problem that the world is going to have to face -- because aggression is a natural instinct just as much as, and more immediate than, compassion, and it is always going to be there. It's a biological fact.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: The main motifs of the myths are the same, and they have always been the same. If you want to find your own mythology, the key is with what society do you associate? Every mythology has grown up in a certain society in a bounded field. Then they come into collision and relationship, and they amalgamate, and you get a more complex mythology.

     But today there are no boundaries. The only mythology that is valid today is the mythology of the planet -- and we don't have such a mythology. The closest thing I know to a planetary mythology is Buddhism, which sees all beings as Buddha beings. The only problem is to come to the recognition of that. There is nothing to do. The task is only to know what is, and then to act in relation to the brotherhood of all of these beings.

BILL MOYERS: Brotherhood? -

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes. Now brotherhood in most of the myths I know of is confined to a bounded community. In bounded communities, aggression is projected outward.

     For example, the ten commandments say, "Thou shalt not kill." Then the next chapter says, "Go into Canaan and kill everybody in it." That is a bounded field. The myths of participation and love pertain only to the in-group, and the out-group is totally other. This is the sense of the word "gentile" -- the person is not of the same order. [++ Also the sense of the word "Infidel" in Islam]

BILL MOYERS: And unless you wear my costume, we are not kin.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Yes. Now, what is a myth? The dictionary definition of a myth would be stories about gods. So then you have to ask the next question: What is a god? A god is a personification of a motivating power or a value system that functions in human life and in the universe -- the powers of your own body and of nature. The myths are metaphorical of spiritual potentiality in the human being, and the same powers that animate our life animate the life of the world. But also there are myths and gods that have to do with specific societies or the patron deities of the society. In other words, there are two totally different orders of mythology. There is the mythology that relates you to your nature and to the natural world, of which you're a part. And there is the mythology that is strictly sociological, linking you to a particular society. You are not simply a natural man, you are a member of a particular group. In the history of European mythology, you can see the interaction of these two systems. Usually the socially oriented system is of a nomadic people who are moving around, so you learn that's where your center is, in that group. The nature-oriented mythology would be of an earth-cultivating people.

     Now, the biblical tradition is a socially oriented mythology. Nature is condemned. In the nineteenth century, scholars thought of mythology and ritual as an attempt to control nature. But that is magic, not mythology or religion. Nature religions are not attempts to control nature but to help you put yourself in accord with it. But when nature is thought of as evil, you don't put yourself in accord with it, you control it, or try to, and hence the tension, the anxiety, the cutting down of forests, the annihilation of native people. And the accent here separates us from nature.

Finnegans Wake can help with this nightmare, James Joyce's 1927++ publication of Wake...