pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (library stairs)
I've been reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, recently. While I've read portions of several of Joseph Campbell's works, it was generally in the context of research I was doing while I was a student. My eldest son has the DVD set of Bill Moyer's interviews with Campbell, which I've been thinking of watching, and I decided that I would get the most out of them by reading the book beforehand.

I'm struck by how often something Campbell says has me wanting to jump up and find someone to share the passage with. I also find myself deeply appreciative of Campbell's statements about myth as metaphor, which help me to contextualize religion in a way that works for me.

The passage I wanted to share with you tonight is on page 71, in the chapter titled, "The Journey Inward." The point of discussion in which this takes place has wandered from a discussion of myth and religion to the relationship between myth and folktales.

Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what have been called the Muses&emdash;or, in biblical language, "God." This is no fancy, it is a fact. Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So when one hears the seer's story, one responds, "Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn't able to say." There has to be a dialogue, and interaction between the seer and the community. The seer who sees things that people in the community don't want to hear is just ineffective. Sometimes they will wipe him out.

In addition to his opening statement about the place from which creativity springs in any writer (and I think it's fair to think this would apply to any artist), Campbell seems to be suggesting that there is very close connection between the writer/artist and the mystic.

When I think about my own writing process—which is a fitful one, full of days in which no worthwhile writing (or, indeed, any writing, at all) is forthcoming, or days in which every word seems to be dragged painfully from some deep well, yet also sprinkled here and there with times and days when the words just flow onto the page with very little effort or apparent conscious thinking on my part—I wonder how that fits into Campbell's view of creativity. I don't think of myself as a mystic, and I would have to say that I am probably not particularly attuned to the unconscious minds of the vast majority of the people in our society (which is, of course, a large, rather than small, one), but perhaps this is why I struggle so hard.

The preceding paragraph is one in which I'm pretty much thinking out loud. If I'd been willing to get out of bed last night, immediately after reading this passage, to share it with you, I probably would have had something very different to say. Certainly, at that moment, I had a complex, excited reaction to what I'd read. Part of this was the immediate question as I read the first sentence about whether the creative process really is that similar for all writers and artists, or whether some (possibly those who prefer detailed outlines?) would reject this notion.

So, I turn this over to you, my friends.

Do you experience the writing process as something you must open yourself to, as something to which you must yield? (As I wrote that, I realized that there is a part of me that hates yielding to that impulse, even as I long to; I want to strike this confession from any public setting, but I am going to resist doing so, because I think it may be a key component of the struggle I have as a writer and I'm sure I'm not unique.)

Do you feel that, as a writer or artist of any kind, you resemble a mystic or seer? Or, do you reject that comparison?
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (lady with cup)
Our country has had mixed feelings about the relationship between religion and government for a very long time. This interview on Fresh Air with Steven Waldman of Beliefnet, the author of Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, throws a little bit of light on the antecedents of the social and political struggles that led to the creation of our constitution.

Steven Waldman Explores Founding Faith : NPR
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (snowball fight)
I want to wish each and every one of my friends a joyous holiday season, regardless of their beliefs or the specifics of their celebrations, or even whether they celebrate, at all. If it comes to that, I hope that this coming year will be full of good things, happy moments, and many, many causes for celebration.

Although none of the members of my family are Christian, we still celebrate the holiday season with what I sometimes call the pagan trappings of Christmas. We have a tree and everyone gets presents on Christmas day. I am, at this moment, listening to a Bing Crosby version of "The Holly and the Ivy" via, which I discovered via someone on my flist (but, I don't remember which of you it was and I can't turn up the entry). Before I remarried, I sometimes considered moving our celebrations in a more inclusive direction, that recognized the traditions of non-Christian groups, or to a more overtly pagan one, but I never really followed through on this. Some family traditions are hard to change, even when the underlying beliefs that are seen as the reason for those traditions do not apply. So I, an agnostic, enjoy the opportunity to celebrate and to share a special time with my family, as do my husband and stepsons, Buddhists all, who celebrate Christmas with a fervor of cooking, huge amounts of candy, and an insistence that Santa is a very real spirit being.

Some of my friends don't celebrate Christmas. They may celebrate other traditions, or none at all. There is an intensity to this holiday that can be overwhelming, even for people who are Christians, much less for the innocent bystanders who don't celebrate and yet may feel barraged with Christmas sentiments wished upon them by well-meaning friends and even strangers. For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, or down in the dumps, I hope that you will find peace and comfort. I wish you good things, now, and in the coming year.

Happy holidays, all.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (dogs)
Being on Facebook is exposing me to even more of all the fun, er, distractions that can be found on the web. For instance, one of my friends there posted a link to this photo article, Friday Watch: All Dogs Go To Heaven . . ., which was in the Silicon Valley Watcher.

Now, I remain a neutral observer on the issue of what happens to us after death, but if there is a Heaven, I firmly believe it has to include at least the possibility of all our loved ones, or it wouldn't be, like, you know, Heaven.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (girl in space)
Following the urban fantasy panel, I attended a reading by Emma Bull [ profile] coffeeem. She read us a portion of an episode from Shadow Unit and spoke to us afterward about how Shadow Unit came to be.

More )
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (moon and stars)
I'm gacking the following link, as I found the article very interesting: An Article About Terry Pratchett. Plus, I want to see the movie mentioned within the article.


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