MYTHS OF LIGHT Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal ~ Joseph Campbell

This previously unpublished title brings the focus of Campbell’s remarkable knowledge and intellect to one of his favorite topics, the myths and metaphors of the Asian religions. By his own account, Joseph Campbell began his comparative study of the world’s religions with a chance meeting with the renowned Indian Theosophist Jeddu Krishnamurti on a trans-Atlantic steamer.

Though he was deeply fascinated by mythologies and religions from every continent, Asia’s potent mix of theologies captured his imagination more than any other, and offered him paths to understanding the essence of myth. Readers who have been waiting for an accessible summation of Campbell’s insights into the great Asian traditions will have it in this compact volume.

Myths of Light collects previously unpublished lectures and articles on the mythologies and religions of Asia, from the ancient Hindu Vedas to Zen koans, Tantric yoga, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The sixth in New World Library and the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series, this work stands as a worthy companion to Campbell’s Asian journals (Baksheesh & Brahman and Sake & Satori) and to the examination of Western religious metaphor, Thou Art That.

As in his other popular works, Campbell conveys complex insights with warm, accessible storytelling, a hallmark of his public lectures, here revealing the intricacies and secrets of Asian religion and philosophy with his usual enthusiasm.

Joseph Campbell–Myth As the Mirror for the Ego

Myth lets you know where you are across the ages of life–at 40 or at 80…

This video is a brief excerpt from interviews filmed with Joseph Campbell shortly before his death in 1987, previously unreleased by the Joseph Campbell Foundation –

The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World ~ Ian McGilchrist

This book argues that the division of the brain into two hemispheres is essential to human existence, making possible incompatible versions of the world, with quite different priorities and values.

Most scientists long ago abandoned the attempt to understand why nature has so carefully segregated the hemispheres, or how to make coherent the large, and expanding, body of evidence about their differences. In fact to talk about the topic is to invite dismissal. Yet no one who knows anything about the area would dispute for an instant that there are significant differences: it’s just that no-one seems to know why. And we now know that every type of function – including reason, emotion, language and imagery – is subserved not by one hemisphere alone, but by both.

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.

This book argues that the differences lie not, as has been supposed, in the ‘what’ – which skills each hemisphere possesses – but in the ‘how’, the way in which each uses them, and to what end. But, like the brain itself, the relationship between the hemispheres is not symmetrical. The left hemisphere, though unaware of its dependence, could be thought of as an ’emissary’ of the right hemisphere, valuable for taking on a role that the right hemisphere – the ‘Master’ – cannot itself afford to undertake. However it turns out that the emissary has his own will, and secretly believes himself to be superior to the Master. And he has the means to betray him. What he doesn’t realize is that in doing so he will also betray himself.

The book begins by looking at the structure and function of the brain, and at the differences between the hemispheres, not only in attention and flexibility, but in attitudes to the implicit, the unique, and the personal, as well as the body, time, depth, music, metaphor, empathy, morality, certainty and the self. It suggests that the drive to language was not principally to do with communication or thought, but manipulation, the main aim of the left hemisphere, which manipulates the right hand. It shows the hemispheres as no mere machines with functions, but underwriting whole, self-consistent, versions of the world.

Through an examination of Western philosophy, art and literature, it reveals the uneasy relationship of the hemispheres being played out in the history of ideas, from ancient times until the present. It ends by suggesting that we may be about to witness the final triumph of the left hemisphere – at the expense of us all.

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist and writer who works privately in London, and otherwise lives on the Isle of Skye.

He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise – the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains.

He was a late entrant to medicine. After a scholarship to Winchester College, he was awarded a scholarship to New College, Oxford, where he read English. He won the Chancellor’s English Essay Prize and the Charles Oldham Shakespeare Prize in 1974 and graduated (with congratulated 1st Class Hons) in 1975 (MA 1979). He was awarded a Prize Fellowship of All Souls College, Oxford in 1975, teaching English literature and pursuing interests in philosophy and psychology between 1975 and 1982. He then went on to train in medicine, and during this period All Souls generously re-elected him to a further Fellowship (1984-1991), and again in 2002 (to 2004).

He was formerly a Consultant Psychiatrist of the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley NHS Trust in London, where he was Clinical Director of their southern sector Acute Mental Health Services. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and is specially approved by the Secretary of State under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act, 1983. He trained at the Maudsley Hospital in London, working on specialist units including the Neuropsychiatry and Epilepsy Unit, the Children’s Unit and the Forensic Unit, as well as, at Senior Registrar level, the National Psychosis Referral Unit and the National Eating Disorder Unit. During this period he also worked as a Research Fellow in neuroimaging at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA. His clinical experience has been broad-based, and he has run a busy Community Mental Health Team in an ethnically diverse and socially deprived area of south London. He is interested in a wide range of psychiatric conditions, including depression, psychosis, personality disorders (especially borderline personality disorder), anxiety disorders, chronic low self-esteem, phobias, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as neuropsychiatry.

He has a busy practice as a medico-legal expert.

He has published original articles in a wide range of papers and journals, including the Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, The Listener, Essays in Criticism, Modern Language Review, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, BMJ, English Historical Review, British Journal of Psychiatry, and American Journal of Psychiatry, on topics in literature, medicine and psychiatry, and has published original research on neuroimaging in schizophrenia, the phenomenology of schizophrenia, and other topics. He took part in a two-part Channel 4 documentary, Soul Searching, in 2003. His first book, Against Criticism, was published by Faber in 1982, and dates from before his medical training, but deals with issues of the wholeness, uniqueness and embodied nature of the work of art, which are continuous with his current concern, the relationship between the history of ideas and shifts in brain hemisphere function, a topic which he has been researching for 20 years, and which is the subject of a recent book published by Yale University Press, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

His other interests include the relationship between creativity and mental illness, and he is currently working on a number of books: a critique of contemporary society and culture from the standpoint of neuropsychology; a study of the paintings of subjects with schizophrenia; a series of essays about culture and the brain with subjects from Andrew Marvell to Serge Gainsbourg; and a short book of reflections on spiritual experience.

The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how the ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society.

The Blue Butterfly – An inspiring movie

The Blue Butterfly tells the extraordinary story of a 10-year-old boy, diagnosed as terminally ill, whose dream is to catch the most beautiful butterfly on Earth, the mythic and elusive Blue Morpho. His mother persuades a renowned entomologist (William Hurt) to take them on a trip to the Costa Rican rain forest to search for the butterfly, leading to an adventure that will transform their lives.

William Hurt in The Blue Butterfly: An Excellent Film About Unity

Etymologist Alan Osborne 10-year Old Pete Carlton Challenge Death and Hunt the Miracle Butterfly

There are several unusual pieces to this film, not least of which is the discordance between actors, a discordance that cannot escape notice. From the beginning, the principle actors seem to have no sympathy with each other. The cast seems to fight within itself. This would represent a flaw in the casting except that it, instead, represents the integrity of the film. It is a visual representation of the meaning of the film, the theme of the movie.

The discordance and disunity between the actors in the beginning of The Blue Butterfly is the result of deliberate directorial choices made by director Lea Pool, native of Geneve, Switzerland (Lost and Delirious). Further, it is the result of deliberate and excellent acting from William Hurt, Pascale Bussieres and Marc Donato.

In the beginning of the film, the actors portray the characters as being individuals who are independent and discordant, without unity with other people. They are sympathetic of the others’ needs and situations, but, still, they are independent and out of accord, and un-united. This discord continues until the moment of epiphany when the mother makes what is an enormously hard decision to send her wheel-chair dependent son out into the tropical rain forest of South America with a the man they are following through wild and potentially dangerous terrain.

Epiphany is followed in due course by crisis. The man gets hurt and the boy must stand on his own: he must set limiting factors aside and come to the rescue of the man. As epiphany led to crisis, crisis leads to dissolution of discordant independence and to the moment of unity. The moment of unity comes when a vision of spearheads and potential fatality touches the boy.

In The Blue Butterfly, a boy, Pete Carlton, played by Marc Donato (White Oleander), who is a fiend for etymology (he collects bugs by the score) develops a brain tumor and is expected to live for only months longer. His individualistic and self-sacrificing mother, Teresa Carlton, played by Pascale Bussieres (primarily European films), who demonstratively loves her son boundlessly, devotes herself to helping him procure the dream of his heart: He wants to go into the jungles of South America with North America’s premier etymologist, Alan Osborne, played by William Hurt (Syriana), to find the spectacular Blue Morpho Butterfly. Pete desires this because he has learned, and he believes, that the Blue Morpho is a miraculous butterfly that can unravel the puzzles of life – and dying – if you behold it for even a moment. He has so many inner questions about the meaning of being a living creature that he feels he must find and catch this miraculous Blue Morpho.

His mother agrees to find and persuade the etymologist and to then brave the dangers of the jungle, spending all her money, for her son’s dream of a miracle.

The etymologist, under circumstances which cannot fail to impress him, reluctantly agrees to lead the expedition, even though it is too late in the butterfly season to hope for any success. The three, the adults not liking things or each other all that well, set out for the jungles of South America where they make headquarters in a village Alan Osborne knows well and where his friend, Alejo, played by Raoul Trujillo (The New World), lives with his motherless young daughter, played in her debut role by Marianella Jimenez. In this village they also meet Topo, a debut role for Gerardo Hernandez. From here, Osborne leads Pete and Teresa on day excursions to hunt the Blue Morpho.

Another odd discordance in the directing of The Blue Butterfly is that between the unity expressed within the two groups of people: one group is all harmony and sublime unity, the other is all dissonance. The group of South American villagers to whom the butterfly expedition travels is represented by Alejo, his daughter and Topo, the village elder cum medicine man cum story teller. It is these three that discuss the belief in the Blue Morpho’s miraculous nature in right and enlightened terms, explaining how it is said that the Morpho grants miraculous wisdom and physical miracles.

Alejo’s daughter further explains to Pete that it is in the attainment of unity that the miracle occurs: She explains that the miracle lies all around and in each being. Discord turning to unity is the theme and the meaning of the film.

Music (Stephen Endelman, DeLovely) in The Blue Butterfly is vibrant like the rain forest and the butterflies (except when they are drunk…). Music, rich and full, acts like a unifier in bringing the two groups together and in bringing them both together with the jungle around them. Endelman’s music acts a central role demonstrating the integrity of the film: It is the one unified piece in a film that has intentionally disunified principle parts. Cinematographer Pierre Mignot (6th Day) and production designer Serge Bureau (Lost and Delirious) work in synchonicity with each other to develop the disunified individuality in the early parts and to capture the feeling of flight in pursuing the miracle of the Blue Morpho in the last portions The film editing, by Michel Arcand (Gospel of John), is one other unifying element in The Blue Butterfly: Arcand’s editing choices make the divided parts flow with each other, bringing the scenes, like a ride on a river, to the final resolution.

One question remains after watching The Blue Butterfly. Pete says that they were “set up.” After you watch the film you’ll know who set them up, but the question that remains is was it for good or was it for ill? Were they set up to be harmed or to be benefited? One clue is that in The Blue Butterfly unity and miracle are presented as existing in symbiosis: each integrally dependent on the other as illustrated by what Osborne says while standing in the river, “No insect, no flower; no flower, no insect.” Other clues (that won’t spoil the film) is that the crisis comes before the unity, the unity comes before the miracle and the Blue Morpho alights beside Alejo’s daughter.

The Blue Butterfly is a brilliant screenplay and story, written by Pete McCormick (See Grace Fly), embodying a deep and profound meaning that goes beyond the true story upon which it was based. This meaning is important and of great relevance today in light of the discord that rocks our world over both global warming (and the discord caused by the footprint of global warming), and the metaphysical disunity as religious and political factions tear the world asunder. Would it were that instead of seeking that which is the captured and mounted trophy we would, as a world of individuals, seek the unity and miracle represented by the Blue Morpho and trade our discord for harmony.Prime Movie Reviews
The Blue Butterfly – Trailer

The Blue Butterfly tells the extraordinary story of a 10-year-old boy, diagnosed as terminally ill, whose dream is to catch the most beautiful butterfly on Earth, the mythic and elusive Blue Morpho. His mother persuades a renowned entomologist (William Hurt) to take them on a trip to the Costa Rican rain forest to search for the butterfly, leading to an adventure that will transform their lives.

And so, their journey begins. A journey of courage, redemption and love. Inspired by a true story, this is a magical film about a courageous young boy and a jaded man who chase a dream, and whose lives are forever changed.

The only way to catch a miracle is to believe in it…

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