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Record Type: Review   ID: 374

Living Myth: Personal Meaning as a Way of Life

Bond, D. Stephenson

 Bond is a Jungian therapist, and he deals with finding meaning through the use of the imagination. He writes: "Imagination lived to its full maturity becomes a way of life—which is to say, it becomes a myth" (p. ix). One chapter refers to symbols as "windows on the soul." There is a parallel between Bond’s use of imagination (or perhaps one should say the imaginal) and exceptional human experience. I have referred to EHEs as windows on our deeper self, the Self that is all things. I have advocated working with our EHEs until they become a way of life and imbue it with meaning. The examples Bond gives of taking imagination seriously (Black Elk, Jung, Tolkien, Ray Kinsella—author of the book upon which Field of Dreams was based—and a woman who danced with crows, are also instances of exceptional human experience: dreams, visions, synchronicity, inter-species communication, visitations from the dead. Living Myth, therefore, offers much to those who have had an EHE and are engaged in the long process of working on and living out its meaning. He offers theory, based on Winnicott and Jung, introverted methods for taking those experiences seriously, and examples of how others have succeeded in developing their own myths from experiences that are outside of consensus reality. He begins with an overview of the role myths plays at various levels of consciousness. He chronicles the death of myth in Western culture and the experience of "falling out of myth." Then he turns to personal myths, which form the basis of new worldviews. There follow chapters on the symbol and play as connectors linking inside and outside. A chapter is devoted to mythic personalities, or persons who started with a heretical experience that seemed only their own and by honoring it gave birth to new outlooks that enriched not only themselves but other people and the culture at large (Black Elk, Tolkien, Anna Marjula, and C.G. Jung). The final chapter is on myth and psychotherapy. Two appendices set forth The Function of Myth and the Life Cycle of a Myth. Certainly EHErs can take heart from Bond’s closing words. He feels that our relationship to our psyches has reached a low point but we live at a moment of great change in the consciousness of humankind when a new cultural myth is reforming: "Myths break out in individual lives that one day may make sense of the world for an entire culture. ... And yet ... the rebirth begins outside of culture" (pp. 203-204). Thus, when it first arises, the carriers of the myth will be considered heretical and will rarely be understood. But those who follow their call will be the heroes and heroines of future generations. No culture, including the Western scientific one, ever advanced without a basis in imagination, myth, and exceptional human experience.
Publisher Information:Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1993. 226p. Bibl: 217-219; Chap. notes: 205-216; 10 figs; Index: 221-226
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