New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Cultura or Cult?

August 26, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Note to School Board President: Get Educated, Please

by Devon G. Peña

Joseph Campbell has long been one of my favorite scholars in the field of comparative religion and the study of mythology. I first encountered Campbell’s magnificent work as an undergraduate in, of all places, a Chicano Studies course on poetry taught by Alurista at the University of Texas in 1974. The work I personally encountered during that class was The Hero’s Journey, a book first published in 1954.

I discussed The Hero’s Journey with Alurista since I was already reading it. It is a book about myth but it is also about the human quality of resilience through the experience of discovery and loss, of how one adapts and grows from our journeys into the unknown, which begins with the crossing of thresholds or boundaries that mark the separation of the familiar from the unfamiliar. Alurista thought this could be used as an analog for understanding the role of Chicana/o poetry, that is, as an exploration across boundaries. Alurista thought that borders that are meant to separate may in the end dissipate before the power of the transition to a full humanity realized only through the acceptance of the “Other.” Poetry is the language we use to realize this more just and peaceful moral order. (more…)