The Call To True Heroism

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The Heroes Journey (Lisa Spindler)

True heroism does not result simply in personal gain

This reading comes from psychotherapist and academic Bradley Olson, who arrives with a Ph.D. in Cultural Mythology, and specialties in Jungian Analytical Psychology and Mythological Studies. Today, hailing from The Joseph Campbell Foundation, Olson recently authored MythBlast’s A Toolbox for the New Year. Therein, ruminating on the year ahead, Olson brings us to the lamenting Cervantes who – in his play The Man of La Mancha – describes men dying despairing; “no glory, no brave last words, only their eyes, filled with confusion, questioning ‘Why?’” To this, Olson responds, musing; “Perhaps “Why?” is entirely the wrong question to be asking. The important question to ask is “Who?” Who am I? Who am I told to be? Who will I be tomorrow, ten years from now, or who will I be when I die? Who do I want to be? Who is it within me that aspires, dreams, creates, laughs, weeps, and loves?”

From there, Olson guides us to two individuals whose lives and work deeply addressed such questions. The first of which, Carl Jung, asks of us; “But then what is your myth – the myth in which you do live?” (Memories, Dreams and Reflections). The second of which, Joseph Campbell,  remarks that the discovery of the answer to Jung’s question is – by far – “the task of all tasks”; a task alluded to especially by the beginning of the word ‘question’ itself,’ ‘quest’. Such is what we’re called to undertake should we choose to seek the ‘who […] within me’; for as Olson – echoing his muses – declares;

Inescapably, we are the protagonists in our own narratives, the heroes of our own, personal mythology. The hero is the metaphor of self-discovery, struggling with inner demons and monsters, bringing the light of consciousness to inner darkness, trying to understand the forces that shaped and made one a self, a whole human being. Engaging with such a task, the larger realization always begins to dawn on us that in order to be truly heroic, the rewards of heroism – its boons, its knowledge, its gifts – must somehow be shared with one’s larger community. True heroism does not result simply in personal gain, it generates communitas, a transformative cultural movement that elevates and values community members equally. Communitas is a powerful force that, as Aeschylys put it, makes gentle the life of the world.

Aeschylys (iskuhles), of course, was a famous Attican tragedian (the father of tragedy), who – in full – dramatically called his contemporaries to “tame the savageness of man, and make gentle the life of this world”; words later memorialised by Robert F Kennedy after the tragic shooting of Martin Luther King. “What we need is not division; what we need is not hatred; what we need is not violence or lawlessness” – said he – “[Rather, ] love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer.” Such is the nature of Communitas; “a community; a body of people acting collectively”, and – with a definition that deeply relates o the nature of our discussion – “a [profound] sense of solidarity and bonding that develops among people experiencing a ritual, rite of passage, or other transitional state together” (Oxford Living Dictionaries).

Not only is such a definition reminiscent of Campbell’s Heroes Journey – an archetypal, universal journey that in which Campbell proposed our lives – at their best – emulate; for it is also deeply reminiscent of the ways in which the Catechism of the Catholic Church  discusses the relationship between Creation and Creator;

“Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call “divine providence” the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection.”

It is in this state of journeying that we may come to deeply recognise and embrace the experience of liminality; that is, the experience of being in-transition, and in-between; for such is the nature of our lives, and such is the nature of impermanence; a state observed as one of the three marks of existence by many Buddhists. I have recently likened this experience to the image of a person caught between two realms that I label the human, and the divine; realms and experiences perfected in the person that was Christ; wholly human, wholly divine. To achieve such a state – as is made clear by the Heroes Journey and the life of Christ itself, one must be willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all; the sacrifice of self for the sake of others. Such is the nature of the greatest commandment; a commandment that calls for true heroism, and true love; for such is the way to the final threshold, and beyond…

The Road Goes Ever On (2013) by Janelle Baker

The Return of The Russian Blue

Recommended Listening, to accompany: Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending

To you, my dear readers,

I’m back. It’s almost been a year, and for that I do apologise.

The last time you would have formally heard from me would have been when I was still an undergraduate at the University of Wollongong, the very institution that directly inspired the birth of this blog, back in the summer of 2011 in an infamously fantastic digital media course called BCM112: Convergent Media Practices…

First of all I would love to extend a very warm welcome to you, it is truly an honour to have you here and I genuinely appreciate the fact that you have sacrificed your own (arguably) precious time to be here.

Who am I? Well, you have the honour of addressing Anthony William I, the Illustrious Author (One day, mark my words!) and attendee of the renowned University of Wollongong.

– William, A. (2011), Fantastic I’ve Been Expecting You, The Russian Blue

And yet here I am today, five years later, a graduate. It feels very, very, bittersweet to admit that. Tears actually glisten as I write, ponder, and hear the lark ascend…

Raewyn & Narelle Campbell; Mother & Daughter, & tutors of mine! Raewyn was actually my BCM112 tutor! Her first year teaching/ my first year studenting.

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Pokémon GO!Locké & Beyond!

My Dear Readers,

Over the past few months a good friend of mine, Dael, also known as Dael Kingsmill, over on her wonderful YouTube channel MonarchsFactory, has been playing Pokémon GO with a twist! If the locké in the title, or in the video thumbnail, haven’t given it away to those of you familiar with the concept, she’s conceived her very own Pokémon GO Nuzlocke Challenge!

For those of you unfamiliar with Pokémon GO, it’s an AR (Augmented Reality) mobile game which transforms ordinary people into pokémon trainers who are hence required to venture out into the real world to catch pokémon, conquer gyms, and hatch eggs, all while burning some juicy calories, (unless you’re very cheekily driving at a very slow pace).

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the Nuzlocke, I’ll let the experts at Bulbapedia explain,

The Nuzlocke Challenge is a set of rules intended to create a higher level of difficulty while playing the Pokémon games. Many challengers feel that the rules also serve the purpose of encouraging the use of Pokémon the player would not normally choose, and promoting closer bonds with the player’s Pokémon. The rules are not an in-game function, but are self-imposed on the part of the player, and thus subject to variation.

The name of the challenge originates from the comic series of the same name, which features a Nuzleaf resembling Lost character John Locke as a recurring gag character.

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Trees, Tribes, and Transformation

From exploring wild and tangled rainforests, skiing down frozen mountains, riding through sublime valleys on horseback, and speaking with indigenous elders, Harry truly embarked on a journey that many could only dream of. I’ve known Harry for over ten years, and I can safely say that the Harry who returned, isn’t the same Harry who left. This is his story of transformation.

Early 2014, University of Wollongong student Harry and close friend Josh make a life changing decision. “We decided to leave for Canada on exchange,” Harry explains. “We were called to Canada. I just needed to see the mountains, and the pine trees. I also really wanted to meet the lovely people.”

Similarly, Josh explains that his decision was inspired by the idea of  escaping Wollongong. “I just wanted to experience another part of the world, and I needed a break.” He laughs, “In retrospect, that break was very useful.”

So, after months of booking and preparation, the two decide to attend two semesters at the University of Alberta, in the Canadian city of Edmonton.

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“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” says Harry (right) as he recalls standing next to Joshua (left), eyes transfixed on the aqua clear surface of Lake Louise, Banff.

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Delighted Living with Delyse

Delyse laughs, “Do you know, someone pointed out to me that Delight is actually my name! The word can be found in the first part of my first name, Delyse, and in the last part of my surname, Wright. So, I’ll take it!”

At the age of 16, Delyse told herself that she would one day own Lotus, a health and wellbeing centre on Crown Street, Wollongong. Six years ago, that dream came true. Six years later, she sold the business.

“I loved the business,” Delyse muses. “It took a lot to actually say goodbye. It was part of my story, my life.”

Delyse Wright is a Life Coach and NLP practitioner. She’s also the founder of Lifessence Coaching, and the previous editor in chief of the online magazine, Living Life Well. Currently, Delyse resides in Berry, high on a hill surrounded by 8 acres of beautiful bushland with her partner, 2 boys, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 3 ducks, 6 guinea fowl, 1 peacock, and the odd wombat and kangaroo.

With one phase in her life having ended, I asked Delyse where she now found herself.”I’m at that stage where I’m asking myself, ‘okay, so what’s my new story? What’s calling to me?'” She pauses in thought. “Actually, one of the reasons I sold the business was to give myself the time to truly embrace my story a whole lot more. So I’m unravelling, and rebuilding.”

Throughout her life, Delyse has had a passion for helping and inspiring others, a passion that breathes through her work. In fact, ever since she was a little girl her parents had dubbed her ‘a people person.’

“Mum would always tell the story of being on the train to preschool with me. She would watch me run up and down the carriage, chatting to people.” Delyse laughs, “I’ve lived up to my name. I’d still regard myself a people person.”

Delyse is now the founder of The Delighted Life, an online business with the tag line, ‘your life, by design.’ The business name was inspired by a philosophy Delyse holds close to her heart.

“I am here to live a life that is delightful, and to experience delightful, playful experiences, and to inspire that in others. You know, we can be so hard on ourselves, and we can become so bogged down with life! It doesn’t have to be that way!”

“Delight for me is a word that inspires playfulness, lightness, adventure, you know? So that’s my philosophy, it’s around inspiring delight.”

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Thou Shalt Not Steal: Piracy in the Digital Age

Earlier this year, the creators of the 2013 film, Dallas Buyers Club, were victorious in a groundbreaking case filed against Australian internet service provider (ISP) iiNet who had refused to release the details of customers who had illegally downloaded the film. As a result, Australia was put on a pedestal before an international community anxious to witness the future of audience regulation.

Despite the legal complications which have since prevented the details from being released, the Australian Liberal Party immediately responded to the issue, establishing the notorious Data Retention Bill. As the name suggests, the laws require all telecommunication companies to store phone and internet usage records for two years, and allow security agencies to access these records.

Speaking at the Progress 2015 conference in Melbourne via satellite from Moscow, renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden criticised these “dangerous” laws, and warned the audience.

“They’ll collect everyone’s communications, it’s called pre-criminal investigation, which means they are watching everyone all the time. Whether or not you’re doing anything wrong, you’re being watched.”

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Can it wait? Living in a multi-screen world.

In 2012, the American multinational telecommunications corporation AT&T established the #ItCanWait movement, a movement promoting the danger of taking your eyes off the road. As Mashable’s Emily Price shares, this movement was sparked by the fact that “one hundred thousand automobile crashes happen each year because a driver is texting behind the wheel.” In fact, Dr. David Hurwitz from Oregon State University, shares that recent studies conclude that “anything that takes your attention away, any glance away from the road for two seconds or longer can increase the risk of an accident from four to 24 times.”

This issue highlights the moral panic that has been sparked by our supposed ‘culture of distractedness.’ Thus, many movements, such as the #ItCanWait movement have surfaced and permeate modern society. The movement itself has seen success with over 7 million people having signed an online pledge to keep their eyes on the road. Furthermore, AT&T have also created the app “AT&T DriveMode” which “silences message alerts and auto-replies when driving to let friends and family know you can’t respond.”

Continue reading “Can it wait? Living in a multi-screen world.”

Look Up!

In the age of the mobile phone, it’s only natural for a researcher to ask, how do mobile phones facilitate change in our social behaviour? Furthermore, how does this behaviour disrupt the old paradigm and conventions of a public space?

Ultimately, I would argue that mobile phones are private in nature. The technology is personalised to the tastes of the individual, and it’s normally frowned upon to access another person’s phone without permission, which is perhaps also one of the reasons people install password and finger print locks on their phones. Furthermore, if you were to sit down in a public space, you would surely observe a host of people bewitched by their mobile phones. Thus, given that many comfortably privately “audience,” if you will, in public, one may certainly argue that a shift has indeed, and is, occuring.

Interestingly, despite the supposed “connectedness” believed to be inherit mobile phone usage, many would argue that mobile phones serves to facilitate a disconnectedness from life. The film maker Gary Turk used this idea as an inspiration in his short YouTube documentary, “Look Up.” Musing on the intended moral of the piece, Turk states,

I don’t want you to stop using social media or smartphones. It’s about finding a balance. It’s about making sure you are awake, alive and living life in the moment; instead of living your life through a screen.

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The Cinema Experience

Ken Roe, 2010, Greater Union Cinema Foyer, Wollongong

The experience of attending a public cinema becomes peculiar in an age where the experience of “audiencing” becomes private. This is true to my experience, given that I certainly find more comfort when watching films at home, on my own. Personally, I find it fascinating how your experience of a text is shaped by the space you inhabit, physically, emotionally, mentally, and perhaps even spiritually.

Written in his programme, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,” the Russian painter Kandinsky supplements my view when he muses,

“every object (without distinction: that is, whether it is “natural” or man-made) is nothing less than a definite being, with its own intrinsic life and an effect that flows from it.”

Thus, from there we can begin to see the film as an object, and the cinema as a space, which contribute in an experience that is shaped individually by each audience member. To demonstrate this, I’m going to recount a cinema experience from a few weeks ago. Perhaps you could compare it to your own past cinema experiences, where you may also come to realise that our daily narratives are influenced by many converging factors. Furthermore, perhaps I could encourage you to entertain the idea that when you look past the mundane, you’ll come to realise that every day is a new opportunity, a new story, and perhaps even, a new adventure.

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10% Good, 90% Bad: Australia’s Internet

“This is what I say about this internet,” Baba instructs. “This one be 10% good, but 90% bad!”

Australia, for some time, has been deprived of a reliable national broadband plan. In fact, in the 2014 Akami’s State of the Internet Report, which ranked countries by internet speed, Australia was ranked 30th with an average peak of 5.5 Megabytes per second (Mbps). Furthermore, earlier this year Netflix voiced concern, stating that the majority of Australians will struggle to comfortable use the service due to lagging speeds. In 2013, Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull boasted that the Coalition’s fibre-to-the-node national broadband network (NBN) would deliver minimum speeds of 25 Mbps. Unfortunately, the NBN have since withdrawn that guarantee. For the sake of our Internet, investments need to be made, and things need to change…

Interestingly, not all Australians are in favour of improving our national broadband infrastructure, and some aren’t even interested in the Internet. Yesterday I returned to the home of my Baba Mia, who isn’t connected to the internet. “If I be boss, internet close!,” Baba declares, “this have many thing dirty, and spoil everyone!” She laughs, “it make old people crazy too, like children!”

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