Saturday, July 12, 2008

An Overview of the Thesis

I figured this might be helpful before I get into more specifics.

So what is the purpose behind all of this mumbo jumbo? Well here goes...

I'm hoping to illustrate the formation of a modern myth and demonstrate how the stories that we tell today continue to serve the same psychological and spiritual needs that myth and religion have historically address.

I've chose this particular example (The X-files) for two primary reasons. First because it is very rich in archetypal symbolism and is structured, much in the way that the myths of the major religions are, in a way that can be seen to demonstrate a person's psychological journey through the course of his or her life. This is a well defined myth in which we see major archetypal symbols in action, challenging the hero and being "integrated" and in some cases reborn to begin a cycle of further growth.

Secondly, I'm using this example because it demonstrates how the classic myth structure takes on the face of the age in which it is created. This story reflects and addresses various conflicts and concepts that are specific to the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

To elaborate, what is the great fear of contemporary western man? One could answer that we live in a culture of paranoia, born from the horrors or the earlier portion of the 20th century, solidified through the Cold War and now carrying over into this age where our focus is global terrorism. We fear a lack of control and yet fear being controlled. This contributes to the proliferation of countless conspiracy theories regarding any event that shakes our sense of well being and security. We crave the security of there being those in power who dictate events, but at the same time fear that that accumulation of power may fall into the wrong hands and cause us further damage as individuals and a society.

Next, what is the spiritual conflict of contemporary western man? It seems to be clearer with each passing day that this is the conflict between science and spirituality; That the myths of previous ages, for many, no longer hold up in this age of the scientific mindset, and that faith is harder to hold onto when our focus is on the material realm.

So how do the minds of individuals caught in this paradox respond? Late in his career, Jung took an interest in the reports of "flying saucers" that were appearing with increasing frequency around the world. He posited that they may be an external projection of the unified "self", something that he observed western man to be struggling to find within himself.

It would seem that he was on the right track. Setting aside debate as to the physical origins or scientific validity of the phenomena, belief in UFOs or "flying saucers" can be seen as a method to bridge the scientific/spiritual gap. The modern man who has embraced the tenants of science and therefore is finding faith in traditional religious constructs increasingly difficult, can find for himself a parallel to these constructs in new age tales of peaceful beings from other worlds who may have colonized our planet in prehistory and/or assisted in the early evolution of man. We see in these more advanced intelligent life forms, wise teachers who have an interest in our well being who can be equated with the notion of gods. They can lead us to wondrous heights of achievement, but through our human weaknesses we can find ourselves going astray from their desires and bring ourselves to the brink of heavenly vengeance. They are gods for the technological age.

Beliefs of this type then can allow a modern man to believe as he would in the gods, but believe that those forces could someday be understood by science. Science fiction, for many, becomes the conduit for spiritual comfort and security that religion was in the past.

So for these reasons, The X-files is the perfect choice to explore modern spirituality and myth-making. First, because the archetypes are well defined and the myth is structured in a way that is a strong reflection of the function of religion on the individual psyche; and second, because it demonstrates how an age and society can adapt the old myth format to serve it's specific needs as well as those that are more inherent to man's nature.

To further explain my general thesis, I'm hoping to shed some light on the specifics of why those tales, be they of antiquity or today, which contain the strong imagery of archetypes, seem to touch our collective unconscious and aid in our spiritual growth through vicarious participation, be it in the mass or religious ceremony, or in the reading or viewing of a piece of contemporary media. An alternate title to this piece could be "Why people get so obsessed with things like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter...using the X-files as the central example".

Another way of putting it would be that we are looking at the X-files to examine its function as a myth for the post modern belief system of Ufology and Alien Lore.

I hope this makes sense to the reader and can't wait for my next entry, which will likely deal with the plot arc of anima integration experienced by Mulder (because it will give a flavor of the way that we'll explore various symbols and is a big part of the overall integration process, and also because it's the one that's closest to being ready for consumption).

Till then my Jungians and Philes....

1 comment:

someone said...

Great thesis!!! The struggle between faith and science in man is particularly intriguing to me. When I'm not sneaking in between breaks to read blogs at work, I'll get to the rest of your blogs.