I’m a fan of mythologist Joseph Campbell. Several of his lectures on mythology can be found on Netflix streaming. Campbell explains that there are myths from around the world that have survived for thousands of years that share the same structure, which his calls the “monomyth”.  He summarizes the “monomyth” in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces with this quote (which I found on the book’s Wikipedia article):

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

This structure can be seen in stories from many religions and in modern stories too, such as Star Wars. Geiger refers to the Hero’s Journey structure, without naming it, as a ideology in the last paragraph of page 25, where the author explains

Successful films, it might be argued, are those that are able to articulate prevailing cultural beliefs effectively, making them seem natural and universal, rather than culturally and historically determined. Thus, for example, we might not question why many films focus on an individual hero who, through decisive, often violent action, triumphantly overcomes villainous people or forces that seek to control or destroy him (or, occasionally her). It may, then, require a step back to recognize that this formula is based on an ideological belief in the power of the individual, in the ability of individual action to solve problems in short order, usually by overcoming an individual villain. The fact that we know many real-life problems cannot be attributed simply to an individual villain or solved by invidual heroic action does not change our belief in individualism, nor our satisfaction in seeing this belief affirmed. Thus, belief in individual action (as opposed to collective or societal action) appears simply to be a fact, rather than an ideological notion that can be questioned and analyzed.

Some scholars believe that the “monomyth” isn’t as pervasive though the world as Campbell claims. Still, I find it interesting that an ideology could either appear independently several times throughout the history of mankind or spread throughout the world’s cultures and last for so long. It seems to me that the “monomyth” could be hardwired into our brains in a way, almost like an instinct for a compelling story. Can instincts or cognitive illusions – not sure how to what to call or how to explain this idea, but an example would that we are very aware of faces. We are hardwired to recognize the pattern of a face, sometimes seeing it in clouds or burnt toast. If you don’t easily recognize faces, you have a disorder called prosopagnosia – be considered ideologies because they warp reality by forcing us to perceive the world in ways that we are generally unaware of?

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