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Record Type: Review   ID: 383

The Heart of History: Individuality in Evolution

Perry, John Weir

 In this overview of the great myths through cultural history that have been at the core of human growth in awareness of the nature of reality and the place of human beings, especially the individual human being, within it, Perry states: "There awaits us a far grander mythic rendering of our place ... one that can stir the heart even more deeply than the one we have outgrown" (p. vii), even though in modern times for the most part humans have let go of all myths, except that of meaningless and insignificance. He points out that this trough in our awareness of personal and global meaning actually sets the stage for the rise of a new and greater myth, for an overview of history indicates that "great myths are formed in times of dire urgency and in minds of gifted visionaries. In their altered states of consciousness [i.e., their exceptional human experiences] they perceive the psyche whose natural language is mythic. Moreover, he observes that with the overemphasis on materialism in modern times, humans have lost sight of their place in the eco-system of the planet. He presents historical materials that indicate the mythic visions and myths record "the source, and psychological dynamic of the principle of compassionate brotherhood as it plays its part in the ongoing evolution of mankind. Through these mythic visions, history was finding its heart" (p. ix). There are three sections. The first consists of three chapters on Myth, Ritual, and Visions. The second contains six chapters on Cultural Transitions, and the third presents three chapters on Conclusions for Our Times. Although Perry, who is a well-known Jungian therapist, is mainly concerned with cultural myths, it is not so much their content that is of interest to him but rather the pattern of myth-making that might show us what to expect and how to recognize new archetypal myths as they enter in our own times, for we are in a cultural climate today when new myths can be expected and, in fact, are occurring. The increase in reports of exceptional human experiences indicates increased awareness of the mythic entering individual lives and offering guidance to turn to the new day and with the strength to do so. Perry sees the new vision that is arising as being composed of both claritas, or the clear knowing of science, and caritas, the heart knowledge of holding dear.
Publisher Information:Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987. 250p. Author Index: 239-240; Bibl: 229-238; Chap. notes: 209-227; 12 figs; Subject Index: 241-249
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