Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recombinant Mythology as answer to the Anti-Life Equation
by Baisden, Gregory Scott, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 451; 3590362
Abstract (Summary)

The pervasive perspective of Western culture views spirit as enmeshed or entombed in matter, an interpretive frame that drives us to periodic socio-political disintegration and bourgeoning planetary illness because it neither honors flesh as vehicle for spirit nor tends spirit as animating flesh. Rather, our dominant paradigm emphasizes disdaining the body and lamenting the spirit, thereby either indulging the former or discounting it, while either disempowering the latter as incarcerated in flesh or seeking its "liberation" from flesh. This is an Anti-Life Equation denigrating both body and spirit, and playing a fundamental role in humanity's current crises in faith, politics, and sustainability.

The Myth of Orpheus has traditionally been interpreted as exemplifying this emphasis by portraying him as a failure both of body because attached to his mortal lover and of spirit because unable to refrain from dooming her to eternity amongst the shades of Hades. In this frame, the mythic master of the lyre becomes a proponent of a transcendentalist imperative to free spirit from carnal prison. But what if Orpheus was not a failure – not because he failed in bringing Eurydice's spirit shade back to the day world, but because he succeeded in relinquishing his love from her carnal form and from his attachments to and projections upon her?

From this perspective, that of a Recombinant Mythology, we may reclaim our foundational stories from the anti-life perspectives and interpretations that color them. Thus we may recognize Orpheus as the very image of perceiving, acknowledging, and embracing the spiral gift of life, in which spirit enters body as a journey of experience for the tempering of soul, for transforming or transmuting phenomenal, incarnate being, rather than as a trap of separation, dislocation, and isolation from divinity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slattery, Dennis Patrick
Commitee: Cowan, Lyn, Kugelmann, Robert
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Philosophy, Psychology
Keywords: Archetypal and jungian, Mythology, Orpheus and eurydice, Paradigm shift, Philosophy of ideas, Sustainable culture
Publication Number: 3590362
ISBN: 978-1-303-29985-8
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