Friday, July 15, 2011

A Dark, Dark Forest

Thinking about hero journey's lately. For my book, and you know... life. Though I feel decidedly unheroic lately, some of Joseph Campbell's (the popularizer of The Hero's Journey idea) stuff lingers in my mind, for my fiction and who knows what else.

He writes: When you cross the threshold, you are passing into the dark forest, taking a plunge into the sea, embarking upon the night sea journey. It involves passing through clashing rocks, narrow gates, or the like... You may be dismembered, lose everything you have...As you now go towards the center, there will come more aids, as well as increasingly difficult trials. You have to give up more and more of what you're hanging on to. The final thing is a total giving up, a yielding all the's a move into a field of action of which you know nothing. Anything can happen, and it may be favorable or unfavorable.

Let's talk about characters and the hypothetical, a far more comfortable place of metaphor (fiction and metaphor are what we have after all, when we cannot speak directly. It's why fiction began, to touch on truths we otherwise cannot pronounce or get across our tongue). I think of Hansel and Gretel, walking into that dark forest, getting lost, stumbling upon what they think is a haven that turns into a house of horrors. I think of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown and the dark, dark forest that will imprint him for life. So many dark forests in fiction, lush with lostness.

Funnily enough, there are forests in my fiction, and they do not bode well for my heroine :) Oh, the cyclical stories that we eat up and repeat unconsciously, the "sea of stories" which we enter into and repeat and repeat and draw and recreate meaning from.

I have no conclusions. I pass from uncertainty to uncertainty. My compass is broken. I forage for food and seek nourishment. Day to day, until the light filters down through the leaves and eventually, I know again where is the solid ground.

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