Philosophy, literature, mythology, psychology, climate, history.

January 6 and Mythological Rupture

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Joseph Campbell defined ritual as the collective reenactment of a myth. The myth that the mob that stormed the Capitol was collectively reenacting is the inaugural myth of the United States, which they construe to be its consecrating moment – a collective rejection of the old oppressive powers, and a high-minded and principled seizure of the reins of destiny.

Rituals reach into the very deepest centers of human motivation and belief. The ritual we saw performed on January 6 is as profound to those who participated as the breaking of the Host during the Eucharist. It is a recapitulation of a fundamental and meaning-giving mystery.

All the years people have been gathering in public squares dressed in tricorner hats with signs proclaiming “WE are the people” have been preparatory to what we’ve recently seen. They are inscribing themselves inside a myth.

If there is one thing the 20th century taught us, it’s that the confusion of myth with history is one of the defining characteristics of fascism. (For one of the countless instructive examples available, see the late works of Ezra Pound, who slowly moved from “Died some, pro patria, non dulce et non decor” to “The Federal Reserve is a Jewish plot.”)

The gulf between how I see the world and how this fellow sees the world is literally unbridgeable.


Written by Mesocosm

January 11, 2021 at 12:38 am

Posted in Politics, Psychology

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