top of page
  • Writer's picture738

Προφητεία (28)

Updated: Aug 15

Citation needed: people are like this because the West lacks initiation—the West is better educated than ever before and so, more than ever before, is ruled by people who can’t self-authorise; because an education isn’t an initiation. What Campbell talks about here, maturity, is tied up with responsibility—the person who is always using citations seeks to avoid responsibility, they think they can hide behind a well-buttressed argument.

They lack common sense, they fear exposure—“Do you think we should build more hospitals or not?” “These studies say…but, on the other hand, these studies say…” “Yes, but you…what do you think?”. The same problem appears in journalism—journalists seek to represent “both sides” but who picks which “two sides” constitute “both sides” (who builds the Overton window)? What do you think—yes, you, Mr. Smug Louis Theroux?

Well, if you never give your take, your actual take, you can never be caught out and mocked or considered stupid when it all goes wrong—but you’ll never learn anything that way, because you’ve set it up so you can never genuinely fail and never have to take responsibility for anything.

So how do we initiate people? Well—good question. The army is probably the only institution with residual initiation but it doesn’t provide what Campbell talks about here. It takes you from your family and school and provides a new brainwash for you—it gets rid of that dependent brainwash from your family life (your mom picking up your socks to wash) and it gets rid of the snide sulky teenage school student and, as they say, “it makes a man of you”.

And they do that by induction into a game, played with the proverbial drill sergeant at first, where there are rewards and punishments until you play the game properly (him staring at you in the face, inches away so you feel his breath on your cheek, until you laugh—“You think this is funny, soldier?—It’s not funny!” [but it is funny, that’s the double-bind, you see—that’s the programming at work, double-binds and mental manipulation; to come, obscene songs and scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush—“Do you like it, ladies?!” “Sir, yes, sir!” “I said, ‘Do you like it, ladies?!’”].

Okay—the military makes you into an autonomous unit that can take the pain without complaint (ug*ug*ug Marine Corps! Oh-rah!), but it’s not what Campbell talks about here. The Marine Corps is just a new persona—it doesn’t teach you to speak frankly. It burns off the facetious teenage persona and replaces it with a *real killer* persona, which the inducted Marine considers “being a real man” (a cut above civvies—people not inducted into the Männerbund). But the Marine doesn’t have his intuition—in fact, he has been gelded in another way; he’s an efficient autonomous machine—but he doesn’t have spiritual initiation.

He might not say “citation needed”, but what he’ll look for is “authority to get the job done”—he’ll look at you and say “what’s the use of that?”, because he’s been trained to be a practical unit (OODA loop etc); possibly, he’ll say nothing—because he’s been taught not to say anything, just wait for instruction (like a good boy).

Man basically loves to play games—the sulky sarcastic teenager plays a game, so they say, “Stick him in the army! That will make a man of him!”. And, sure enough, he no longer answers back—he’s “mission-orientated”. If he becomes a PhD student instead, he might stop being a sarcastic teenager and become a snarky liberal instead—but neither he nor the Marine have what Campbell refers to here. They never stop playing a game—they don’t even know they’re in a game.

Initiation isn’t provided by churches, either—because the churches have no gnosis. Baptism and confirmation will not initiate you in the way Campbell means. What he really means is “the hero’s journey”, but that has to be taken literally—for too many people it has become a metaphor (you leave home, go to university, get a job [the boon], get married etc—“the circle of life”).

Yet it’s literal—you need to go out into nature with no purpose other than to be in nature (i.e. not on a school-sponsored Duke of Edinburgh “outward bound” course to “build character”—that’s just more persona). Westerners find that difficult to conceive—“You mean go just to go out…shouldn’t you climb a mountain/hike a trail/build a raft?”.

Campbell’s problem was that he didn’t think it was real—he was too modern, he taught at a girls’ college (women, Africans, Jews—i.e. America). You can tell he doesn’t think it’s real, that he had no initiation himself, because he gets nervous and upset when he talks about death. Moyers asks him about this “final journey” and how myth can help us to be “reconciled” to it and Campbell gets evasive and frightened.

That’s because he wasn’t an initiate—he was a great writer about myth but he never lived it, for him death was “the end” and myths were neat metaphors that comfort us and make life richer (perhaps you could study them when you retire) but, in the end, the end is the end.

Campbell rejected Christianity but then, in a progressive way, he looked to non-Western myths for succour, he universalised—put emphasis on the monomyth that would sustain “global technological society” through Star Wars and the like (a myth for the moon-landing generation). He didn’t take the hero’s journey literally—he never went on a hero’s journey himself.

He joked to Alan Watts that “underlining sentences is my yoga”—so he was still “citation needed” himself, he never pushed off into real initiation (and never said what he really thought, just hedged it with another story—with more scholarship). He alludes to it being like the craftsman’s frankness—the baseball player—and it is so, but it’s more than that; it’s unprofessional, it’s supernatural—it’s initiation.


Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page