Friday, April 1, 2011

Post for April 2-3

Hello All,

In our reading for Friday, Stevens argues that a primal motivating cause of our symbols and archteypes is fear:

"many of the symbolic rituals devised by our ancestors arose out of the anxieties that inevitably afflicted human beings living in the environmental circumstances in which our species evolved and lifed for most of its existence. Fears that the vegetative forces of regeneration might wear out and the crops fail gave rise to the fertility rituals, sacrifices of animals and the first fruits, etc., practised by human communities all over the world. Fears that the winter sostice might not mark the end of the sun's withdrawal over the horizon and the beginning of its return explain the ubiquitous existence of solstice rituals, saturnalisa, orgies, and so on. Omnipresent fears of predatory animals and hostile tribal neighbors generated teh surpernatural strength and magical powers of myriad heroes and hero-gods, enabling them to triumph over the monsters, snake-haired medusas, ogres, ghouls, and terrible chimeras which have horrified the imagination since the beginning of anthropological time. While the fear of sickness, spells, bad magic, demons, and jealous ancestral spirits generated the need for shamans, wizards, medicine men, white witches, adn wise women, with their amulets, masks, drums, ecstatic trances, and magic flights necessaery to counter the evils lying in constant wait for us. Our capacity to find symbolical means of dealing with these fears is one of the most striking characteristics of humankind." (42)

One medium for our modern exorcism of these fears is through film, so for this post, describe one film you find especially frightening.

For example, the last film to give me a scare was The Blair Witch Project. I used to go camping quite a bit with my friends, and this film reminded me of the fears of getting lost and of the noises one can't help but hear in the darkness: What was that? Is it getting closer?

Monday, March 28, 2011

1st Post: Spring 2011

Hello All, In his section "The Logic of Symbols," Anthony Stevens describes a study Calvin Hall and Vernon Nordby conducted in which they collected and categorized over 50,000 dreams: "The typical dreams reported involved predatory animals, flying, falling, being pursued by hostile strangers, landscapes, sex, getting married and having children, taking examinations or undergoing some similar ordeal, travelling (whether on foot, horseback, car, aeroplane, or ship), swimming or being in the water, watching fires, and being confined in an underground space. They concluded: 'These typical dreams express the shared concerns, preoccupations and interests of all dreamers. They may be said to constitute the universal constants of the human psyche'" (as cited on p. 20).

For your first blog, describe one of these universal dreams you have experienced recently.

For example, I recently had the dream where I was swimming in the ocean on a starless night; the water was pitch black, and it felt like I was going to be swallowed by the sea, as if the water itself were some sort of monster. I kept anticipating something pulling me down, but nothing happened: I just kept swimming . . .