Lezlie Kinyon, Ph.D. Editor, Coreopsis Journal of Myth & Theatre
(published, Spring, 2020)
I am a driver on a western highway
From the mountains and to the sea
And there’s a song on the western highway
Saying I will be free – Gerry O’Beirne
When the ideas for this issue’s theme were being discussed around the coffee pot and over endless texts & “messenger,” images of Tolkein’s brave hobbits, magic artifacts, and the Holy Grail immediately emerged in our discussions. When the final copies of CFP went out last Autumn, I was at a Celtic festival in Oregon watching Kevin Carr perform on traditional bagpipes on a rocky beach at sunset. Mr. Carr’s musical mastery floated on the sea wind like an invitation to explore deeper . . . further . . . . The question, for this writer, became, “What are the elements that make up a quest?”
To find some answers, I went to the book shelves that always call to me when considering a mythic subject and like noted scholar, Mircea Eliade (1969), I approached this editorial with not a small amount of trepidation.
It is not without fear and trembling that a historian of religion approaches the problem of myth. This is not only because of that preliminary embarrassing question: what is intended by myth? It is also because the answers given depend for the most part on the documents selected. (p. 72)
There is a standard literary answer to this question. “The form of a quest narrative is simple. Basically, the author describes his or her desire to do something, see something, experience something, discover something.” (The Writer’s Workshop, 2010)
Kori Morgan, in How to Do Plot Development in a Quest Story (n.d.) states,
. . . the quest narrative has captivated the imagination of readers. A classic story of an unlikely hero coming into his own on a challenging journey, the plot follows a specific set of stages that both advance the events and gradually develop the main character. Knowing the elements of a quest story plot can help you create your own narrative of a thrilling adventure.
Morgan (2010) goes on to describe 5 stages of a quest story:
The Journey Begins: The Threshold and Descent
Into the Abyss: The Trial
There’s No Place Like Home: The Return
If one follows this arc of plot development, the quest tale becomes a tale of a journey and return having gained wisdom and experience. This story arc may explain why so many modern quest tales, from Oz to Labyrinth to The Dark Crystal (and, more recently, the many chapters of the Star Wars saga), essentially, are coming-of-age stories. A young hero or heroine embarks, at the brink of adulthood, on a journey to find or retrieve something lost and, thereby, rescue his or her community—or in the case of Labyrinth, a little brother from (a very memorable) Goblin King. The trajectory seemingly follows that of Joseph Campbell’s influential hero’s journey, which describes 12 steps.
The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning. (Campbell, 1988, p. 123)
Campbell’s stages of a quest are as follows:
The hero begins in the (1) Ordinary World, the world of the everyday. There, the hero will receive a (2) Call to Adventure where the hero will either accept or give a (3) Refusal of the Call. If, after events that allow for the right conditions for the hero to change his mind and he accepts – and sometimes if he doesn’t, he will meet 4. The Mentor who (Bronzite, 2020):
At this crucial turning point where the Hero desperately needs guidance he meets a mentor figure who gives him something he needs. He could be given an object of great importance, insight into the dilemma he faces, wise advice, practical training or even self-confidence. Whatever the mentor provides the Hero with it serves to dispel his doubts and fears and give him the strength and courage to begin his quest (retrieved 2/12/20)
The hero will then 5. Cross Threshold and begin the adventure. Along the way he will 6. encounter tests, meet adversaries and allies, and must overcome each obstacle in turn. Finally, the hero will reach the final danger and test his new-found skills and wisdom as he reaches the 7. Approach To The Inmost Cave (Bronsite)
At the threshold to the inmost cave the Hero may once again face some of the doubts and fears that first surfaced upon his call to adventure. He may need some time to reflect upon his journey and the treacherous road ahead in order to find the courage to continue. This brief respite helps the audience understand the magnitude of the ordeal that awaits the Hero and escalates the tension in anticipation of his ultimate test (retrieved 2/12/20)
As the hero enters the “inmost cave”, he will undergo an 8. Ordeal which will be a matter of life or death until he finally wins through and finds the object of his quest and will 8. achieve his quest. Campbell (2008) “He must put aside his pride, his virtue, beauty and life and bow or submit to the absolutely intolerable.” (p. 89)
What awaits is now 9. The Return and 10. the Road Back to find 11. Resurrection, his own or that of a character in the tale who caused the Quest to begin (examples: the Fisher King, an imprisoned character, or a lost item that will save the community). The 12th and final stage of Campbell’s hero’s journey is the 12. Return With The Elixir where the hero returns to the ordinary having been changed at some deep level. He may, now, take up a new role within his community or set out on another quest.
On this journey, the hero will meet several archetypal figures, among them the trickster or “holy fool”, various “guardians” of gateways into the next stage of the journey, allies who help him along the way as he is forced to confront his fears and weaknesses. (Campbell, 2008, p.89 )
Campbell imagined his heroes to be masculine. Although he also imagined the hero’s journey as universal to the human condition, he focused on the myths containing masculine heros, Gilgamesh, Gawain, Heracles, among others. Many recent women writers have imagined a feminine quest, postulating that such a quest would contain different parameters. These tales describe a journey into an “otherworld”, a symbolic or actual death and rebirth, citing the tales where the protagonist is female, such as northern folktale “East of the Sun West of the Moon” (Asbjørnsen & Moe, 2001) ,
The next morning, when she woke up, both the prince and the castle were gone, and she was lying on a little green patch, in the midst of the thick, dark forest, and by her side lay the same bundle of rags she had brought with her from her old home.
When she had rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and cried until she was tired, she set out on her way, and walked many, many days, until she came to a high cliff. An old woman sat under it, and played with a golden apple which she tossed about. The girl asked her if she knew the way to the prince, who lived with his stepmother in the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, and who was to marry the princess with a nose three yards long. (pp. 268)
Another source for the discussion concerning a woman’s quest is the ancient cycle of poems written by Akkakian Priestess, Enheduanna, The Descent of Inanna (c. 1900-1600 BCE). As translated by Wolkstein and Kramer, (1983):
The annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her
They passed judgment against her.
Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death
She spoke against her the word of wrath
She uttered against her the cry of guilt
She struck her.
Inanna was turned into a corpse
A piece of rotting meat
And was hung from a hook on the wall
Inanna’s return to her status as Queen of Heaven for half the year, giving over to her sister, Geshtinnana for the other half, is often interpreted as a seasonal tale describing the fertile and dry seasons of ancient Mesopotamia. Inanna’s rite lasted for many thousand years as she gained new names and titles: Ishtar, Ashera, Astoroth, even the Biblical Esther (Silverstein, 2006) has been identified with Inanna by some writers. ...
Plague log, an unfinished story in FB posts. (Enjoy!)
Begun in cay 4 of quarantine.
Lezlie Kinyon is at Berkeley Hills.
March 20 at 11:37 PM · Berkeley
Day 4 shelter in place. Log entry. After several tests, we have formed
the hypothesis that an old vintage of red is a preventative. It will
require further testing.
March 22 at 12:48 AM ·
Shelter in place day 5, log. Old vintage red as panacea testing
continues. Acquired avocado.
March 23 at 10:30 AM ·
Shelter in place, log, day 7: old red vintages holding out.Testing as
preventive not yet conclusive. One avocado remains
March 23 at 11:21 PM ·
Shelter at home, Log, Day 8: Neighbors are still here & waved from
back door. Old vintage red data still inconclusive.
March 25 at 8:38 AM ·
About this time last year we we all awaiting the final season of GoT.
This year we've all joined the cast.
March 24 at 10:05 PM
Shelter in place, log, day 9: Vintage red bottle 2. Data still
inconclusive. Finished last avocado at dinner. Rain.
March 26 at 12:58 PM ·
Todays insight: Atwood's "Oryx & Crake" is not the novel to be reading just now
March 25 at 10:56 PM ·
Shelter in place, log, day 10: acquired 4 avocados. Moved on to Merlot.
March 27 at 12:07 AM ·
Shelter in place, day 11, log: Research included chardonnay as
control. Avocados not ripe enough to eaLezlie Kinyon
March 27 at 9:29 PM ·
Shelter in place, log, day 12: research on chardonnay as preventative
inconclusive. Avocado supply good. No cats visiting.
March 29 at 12:33 AM ·
Shelter in place, log, day 13: Chardonnay gone. Data negative.
Returning to vintage red testing. Avocado count is 3 remaining.
March 29 at 11:54 PM ·
Shelter in place, day 14: Cache of vintage red discovered in the
basement. Avocado delivery this week if all goes as planned.
March 31 at 8:06 AM ·
Shelter in place day 14 or 15, log: avocado delivery successful.
Vintage Red data showing early results.
April 1 at 8:16 AM ·
Shelter in place, log day 15. Vintage red supply holding out
Pinot more effective than merlot.
April 1 at 11:57 PM ·
Shelter in place, Log, Day 16.. Cat visited again. Pinot vs. Merlot
data collection not conclusive. Avocado supply good.
April 2 at 11:56 PM ·
Shelter in place, log, Day 16: Neighbors waved from the back door. Red
data collection on schedule, results looking promising.
April 3 at 11:18 PM ·
Shelter in place, log, Day 17. Dreaming of tropical beaches. Red
supply holding out.
April 4 at 8:19 AM ·
Calling it the Lonesom Lone Plague. After the cowboy song.
April 3 at 11:18 PM ·
Shelter in place, log, Day 17. Dreaming tropical beaches. Red supply
April 6 at 12:02 AM ·
Shelter in place day 18, I think, log: Avocado supplies holding out.
Vintage Red preliminary results looking positive.
April 7 at 11:29 PM ·
Shelter at home log. Day -- mumble ...: Evidence of vintage red as
panacea showing results. Possible correlation with Avocados.
April 8 at 11:50 PM ·
Shelter in place, Day I dunno, Log: Took a day off from vintage red
research. Need to find avocados.
April 9 at 11:57 PM ·
Shelter in place, day 19 ?, log. Watched neighborhood cat cross the
street.Vintage red study continues. One avocado left.
April 13 at 8:43 AM ·
Shelter in place, day 22, log. Rain. 2 glasses of red. Avocados gone.
April 13 at 11:55 PM ·
Shelter in place day damned if I know anymore Log: Finished off
another bottle of red. Sun today.
Yesterday at 12:13 AM ·
Shelter in place...who cares what day it is...log: opened new bottle.
I think it's red. No avocados. At least there was sun.
13 hrs ·
Log. Sheltering at home. Found new stash of red. May venture out in
search of avocados. Haven't seen cat for days.
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The Society for Ritual Arts
“2006: Art as Inquiry: The Anatomy of a Systemic Inquiry Concerning Wisdom Through Ritual Theater”
Proceedings of: 50th Meeting of The International Society for the Systems Sciences, Sonoma, CA