We are rational beings, but we are also sensual, emotional, appetitive, ethical beings, driven by needs and reaching out for satisfactions which the intellect alone cannot provide. Where these other modes of being and doing are inadequate, the intellect should prevail. Where the intellect fails, and must always fail, unless we become disembodied bubbles, then one of the other modes must take over. The myth, mythological insight, is one of these.


The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about fifty years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. "You must change your life," he said.
When genuine myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life.

The way of art, after all, is neither to cut adrift from the emotions, the senses, the body, etc., and sail off into the void of pure meaning, nor to blind the mind's eye and wallow in irrational, amoral meaninglessness—but to keep open the tenuous, difficult, essential connections between the two extremes. To connect. To connect the idea with value, sensation with intuition, cortex with cerebellum.

The true myth is precisely on of these connections.


This again is no paradox, if Jung is right, and we all have the same kind of dragons in our psyche, just as we all have the same kind of heart and lungs in our body. It does imply that nobody can invent an archetype by taking thought, any more that we can invent a new organ in our body. But this is no loss; rather a gain. It means that we can communicate, that alienation isn't the final human condition, since there is a vast common ground on which we can meet, not only rationally, but aesthetically, intuitively, emotionally.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Myth and Archetype i…

And the fact is that a creature that comes out of its shell suggests daydreams of a mixed creature that is not only “half fish, half flesh,” but also half dead, half alive, and, in extreme cases, half stone, half man. This is just the opposite of the daydream that petrifies us with fear. Man is born of stone. If in C. G. Jung’s book Psychologie und Alchemie, we examine closely the figures shown on page 86, we see Melusines, not the romantic Melusines that spring from the waters of lakes, but Melusines that are symbols of alchemy, who help us to formulate dreams of the stone from which the principles of life are said to come. Melusine actually comes forth from her scaly, gravelly tail, which reaches back into the distant past, and is slightly spiraled. We have not the impression that this inferior being has retained its energy. The tail-shell does not eject its inhabit¬ ant. It is rather a matter of an inferior form of life having been reduced to nothing by a superior one. Here, as else¬ where, life is energetic at its summit. And this summit acquires dynamism in the finished symbol of the human being, for all dreamers of animal evolution have man in mind. In these drawings of alchemical Melusines, the human form issues from a poor, frayed form, to which the artist has devoted little care. But inertness does not incite to daydreaming, and the shell is a covering that will be abandoned. The forces of egress are such, the forces of production and birth are so alive, that two human beings, both wearing diadems, may be seen half emerged from the formless shell, in figure 11 of Jung’s book. This is the “doppel-kopfige,” or two-headed Melusine.

All of these examples furnish us with phenomenological documents for a phenomenology of the verb “to emerge,” and they are all the more purely phenomenological in that they correspond to invented types of “emergence.” In this case the animal is merely a pretext for multiplying the images of “emerging.” Man lives by images. Like all important verbs, to emerge from would demand considerable research in the course of which, besides concrete examples, one would collect the hardly perceptible movements of certain abstractions. We sense little or no more action in grammatical derivations, deductions or inductions. Even verbs become congealed as if they were nouns. Only images can set verbs in motion again.

Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space

Owl, Coyote, Soul.

Owl was flying in darkness. Its wings made no sound. There was no sound. Owl said itself to itself: “hu, hu, hu, hu.” Owl hears itself; that makes sound be; sound comes into time then, four times.

Sound circles out on the waters of darkness, the airs of darkness, gyring outward from the open mouth of the owl. Like scum and broken twigs and wings of insects on pond water, things come to be, pushed by the circles moving outward. Near the owl’s mouth the sound is strong and things move quickly and firmly and are distinct and strong. Moving outward the circles grow large and weak, and things out there are slow and mixed and broken. But the owl flew on and went flying on, listening, hunting. One is not all, nor once always. Owl is not all, but only owl.

Coyote was going along in the darkness very sad, lonesome. There was nothing to eat in the darkness, nothing to see, no way. Coyote sat down in the darkness and howled: “yau, yau, yau, yau, yau.” Coyote hears herself; that makes death be; death comes into time then, five times.

Death shines. Death makes singing. Death makes brightness in water, brightness in air, brightness in being. Near Coyote’s heart the shining is strong and things grow strong and warm and take fire. Farther outward things are burnt, weak, dim and cold. Coyote went on and goes along, hunting live things, eating dead things. Coyote is not life or death, but only coyote.

Soul singing and shining goes outward towards the cold and dark. Soul silent and cold comes inward to the shining, to the singing at the fire. Owl flies without sound; coyote goes in darkness; soul listens and holds still.

Le Guin, Always Coming Home