Mythology and the Art of Living

January 13, 2015
Steve McAllister

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In our second meeting of the Sarasota Mythological Round Table Group, we discussed the collusion of art and mythology. Art captures mythological moments and enables people to move to that place. Artistic expression is an expression of our choice to be human, separate from the animals, and this is revealed in art, cuisine, and all of the unnecessary beauty we revel in as we celebrate our human experience.

Art, like mythology, is about discovering order and meaning, but also about articulating a realm of choice — morality, beauty, seeing and creating beauty in things. Telling stories through our art brings in the use of metaphors to help us transcend labels and get to the true meaning by bringing things into relationship that you wouldn’t ordinarily draw the connections between. As we participate in our artistic process, we more greatly understand what it does to us as artists even before it effects those who may experience it otherwise.

Creativity is not so much about aesthetic — the art is in the experience of the work, getting caught up in the flow and transcending our egos just as the metaphors help us transcend the labels. When we allow the universe to move through us, speaking through us as artists, we become part of it, it becomes part of us, and we realize it for the immersive and transformative experience that it truly is.

Just as the only way to find out about anything is to write about it, the only way to truly discover art is to experience it, for the practice, like mythology, is an exclusively human activity whereby artistic arrest is part of it all coming together to reveal that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

To see an orchestra play together is an amazing example of this occurrence. While the Conductor is in control of orchestra, directing the energies of individual artists, each of the instrumentalists’ energies work with each other to make something greater than themselves.

The achievement and tragedy of the Renaissance was the canonization of the artist. By placing artists on such a pedestal, we took art away from the folk craft and the art of living and made it exclusive to the elite. Folk music and similar art forms help people tap into collective stories, but for a long while, art has been largely removed from the general populous.

Yet the human experience is about movement, and art, like mythology, always implies some sort of journey. It is the collusion of Art and Mythology that work to create a domain in which we coexist. And the more that we realize the power that we have to explore these places, the more we can empower ourselves to bring about a renaissance in which art is returned to the people and mythology helps us to return to our higher Self.

Join us for the next meeting of the Joseph Campbell Mythological Round Table Group on the 3rd floor of the HuB at 5:55pm on Wednesday, January 28 as we continue to discover the power of myth.

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