Thursday, April 20, 2006

Conf 178: Long Entry Using Other People's Words

I turned down some work yesterday. Eugh. Too tight a deadline. If I'd stayed up all last night and tonight I may have managed it, but as I'm out Saturday night and my sister's visiting Sunday & Monday no room for overlap. So I said NO. Always a scary thing for a freelancer to do.

Out of curiosity, googled one of Ed Ricketts' other disciples (mentioned yesterday) & discovered the Joseph Campbell is he of the famous The Writer's Journey . I had a go at his Hero's Journey construction method in Novel 2. Some of it was useful. So, in true Cagean synchronicitous style, am about to apply it to novel 3 & see what happens.

Along with this, will do some more major standing-back over the weekend, examining tension and conflict points and looking for more sub-plot opportunities which develop the theme.

Handy summary from Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI)

Brief explanations from every step of the Hero's Journey:

The Call to Adventure

The call to adventure is the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.

Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

Supernatural Aid
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.

The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

The Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person's lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.

The Road of Trials

The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. It is also known as the "hieros gamos", or sacred marriage, the union of opposites, and may take place entirely within the person. In other words, the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic way. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self unification does not have to be represented by a woman.

Woman as the Temptress
At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. For Campbell, however, this step is about the revulsion that the usually male hero may feel about his own fleshy/earthy nature, and the subsequent attachment or projection of that revulsion to women. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Atonement with the Father
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.

To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.

The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

Refusal of the Return
So why, when all has been achieved, the ambrosia has been drunk, and we have conversed with the gods, why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes?

The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience. Or perhaps the person doesn't realize that it is time to return, that they can return, or that others need their boon.
The Crossing of the Return ThresholdThe trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.

Master of the Two Worlds
In myth, this step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

And whilst on all things interrelated from poems to sea crabs, Daniel Barenboim's lecture on Sound, 'The Magic of Music', on radio this morning continued the theme:

VIGALUF:Hello, my name is Vigaluf(?) and I'm part of the managing committee of the Association of German School Musicians, in Berlin, and my question is, now you were referring to Pierre Boulez, and he is of course in the tradition of classical music. Is there ever a chance of avant garde music ever to become or ever represent the beliefs or aesthetics or ideas, thoughts, of the majority of people? Because you say classical music has to come out of its niche, and a modern form of classical music…

DANIEL BARENBOIM:(OVERLAPS ABOVE) Yeah, well I would not make a distinction. Wagner and Liszt were also avant garde musicians, but the avant garde of today is fighting two losing battles. First of all, that some of it has no contact with the past, which was never the case at all, but more important, it is fighting a losing battle in the sense that music is not part of society. And therefore anything that is not immediately accessible is very difficult to make part of our society. I think that a new work, the work of avant garde, has to have the possibility to put itself in the same programme with a symphony by Beethoven or whoever it may be, and, and then you see whether it stands on the same, if you wanted, the same league or not. I don't believe in making a niche, a separate niche for anything at all.

SUE LAWLEY:But people resist it don't they Daniel…

DANIEL BARENBOIM:People resist it because, because…

SUE LAWLEY:…because it is, because it's atonal and it doesn't appeal to them…

DANIEL BARENBOIM:No no no no no no…

SUE LAWLEY:…and their ear yearns for consonance, not dissonance.

DANIEL BARENBOIM:No no no no no no no, I don't, I don't believe that at all. People resist a lot of things. People resist every… a lot of music that requires er listening with thought. It's not only contemporary music. I played a concert in Chicago a few years ago with Yo Yo Mar, where we played two of the, the last two Beethoven sonatas and inbetween the sonata by Elliott Carter. And you know what, many people, including musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which are very experienced musicians both with the music of Beethoven and in the last twenty years the music of Elliott Carter, they felt that Beethoven Opus 102 was more modern. There was… I don't think that this is the point. The point is that there is no music education to speak of, and when there is, it is only as a specialised profession. And music was never a profession, music was always a way of life. I am sure Mozart and Wagner and Strauss and all the composers, as well as Pierre Boulez and Michel Guilan, who is sitting here, and all the great musicians, don't consider themselves that as a profession. They do that in a professional way, but this is not a profession, it's a way of life, and therefore you cannot make a niche for that.

and, more in relation to writing:

Wagner was a highly, highly intelligent human being in so many areas, and wrote what to me remains one of the most interesting books about music, on conducting, where he describes many of the bad habits of the orchestras of his day, which I must say are not that different from the bad habits of the orchestras today, and that is the difficulty to maintain this inextricable relation between sound and silence - how we start a sound, how we hold it, and what happens to the next note. When Wagner starts the prelude of Tristan, first of all what does he do? He starts the music out of nothing, on one note. (PLAYS ONE NOTE)So. If we listen carefully, and intelligently, we can imagine a thousand possibilities. We can imagine that as part of that, part of that, part of that, part of whatever chord where the A is in there. (PLAYED CHORDS DURING LAST SENTENCE)And then you have the F (PLAYS TWO NOTES)so that's ..?.. (PLAYS THREE NOTES). Obviously not. So what is it? This feeling of ambiguity and expectation is absolutely essential before (PLAYS ONE CHORD)the famous chord comes. If the bar before that had been fully written out, harmonically based bar, the dissonance would not have the effect that it has. But it is this creation of a situation of being in no man's land, harmonically, melodically, and also from the point of view of the sound. If we go from the silence... (PLAYS TWO NOTES)this is almost a modulation, a feeling of modulation in there. (PLAYS FIVE NOTES)Silence. Now comes the repeat for the accumulation, (PLAYS SEVEN NOTES)Silence. But the most important conclusion in the end is that Wagner very cleverly does not resolve, and he leaves the chord in mid air. I have tried to imagine how would a lesser composer, who, although being a lesser composer, had the inspiration, for want of a better word, to imagine the Tristan chord. What I want to show you now, and I suppose this will make you laugh, and which is not something that you normally associate with Tristan and Isolde, but how would he come out of this chord and not have the genius of Wagner of leaving it in mid air, creating a half resolution, which is the tonality for the repeat of the mood. It's the next one already in the key, because if you remember, after this, (PLAYS FOUR NOTES)if you keep the chord the next one is in the key (PLAYS SEVERAL NOTES)What would a composer with less genius and with less understanding of this mystery, of music if you want, of the magical quality that brings all the instruments together, he would think I have created tension, I have to resolve it. (PLAYS EIGHT NOTES)(LAUGHTER)Resolved. Next one: (PLAYS EIGHT NOTES)(LAUGHTER)And therefore I'm only bringing this up because it is this tension of being left in mid air that allows him to create more and more tension as this goes on. And the fact that ambiguity in music, in real life ambiguity may be described as a doubtful quality, somebody who is ambiguous, not knowing exactly what he or she wants, how to react etc. But in the world of sound, in this magical world of sound, ambiguity means that there are many many possibilities, many ways to go. And the longer you hold back on the resolution, the more interesting the whole thing becomes.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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