As we move ever closer to Valentine’s Day, we are following up on the quite wonderful Myth Salon we enjoyed last month with physicist/philosopher Dr. Jesse Bettinger with another jewel from the treasure chest of the sciences! On Thursday February 21, we will be visited by Dr. Jim Weatherall, a physicist/poet/social theorist whose most recent two books are titled The Mis-Information Age: How False Beliefs Spread and Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing – both published by the Yale University Press. These two popular publications followed The Physics of Wall Street. If it sometimes seems to be a mystery how and why our cultural phenomena seem as warped as they are wrapped in webs lacking coherence and principle, Jim Weatherall uses network models to demonstrate how social factors contribute to the persistence and spread of false beliefs, even when there is strong evidence available that those beliefs lead to poor outcomes. We also will discuss how these same social factors can be manipulated by industrial and political agents. His topic is timely and relevant! Can you believe how this resonates with our current times?
Then, the Myth Salon is being honored by two of the stars of Pacifica’s faculty: Dr. Evans Lansing Smith, current chair of Pacifica’s Mythological Studies program will visit us on Wednesday, March 13, followed on Thursday, April 18 by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey, founding chair and current core faculty of Pacifica’s Myth program, whose latest book Integrative Spirituality: Religious Pluralism, Individuation and Awakening, has just been published by Routledge. On deck next month, Lans Smith is well-known to all of us in the Pacifica community. He is the author of thirteen books (including a novel and two volumes of poems) and numerous articles on comparative literature and mythology. He has his Ph.D. from The Claremont Graduate School, an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch International (London and Dublin), and a B.A. from Williams College. In the 1970s, he traveled with the late Joseph Campbell on tours of Northern France, Egypt, and Kenya. He has taught at colleges, institutes, conferences, and universities in Switzerland, Italy, France, Maryland, Texas, and California, and is the recipient of awards for distinguished teaching and publication from Midwestern State University, and the Pacifica Graduate Institute. In addition, he has lectured on Mythologies of the Underworld and The Grail Romances of the Middle Ages, at the C.G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht, Switzerland, and on Goddesses of the Mediterranean in Circeo San Felice, Italy. His edited volume of Joseph Campbell’s writings and lectures on Romance of the Grail, was published in November, 2015, and his edition of the Correspondence of Joseph Campbell (1927-1987) in December, 2019.
Lans will offer a presentation that includes memories, dreams, and reflections about a study tour he took with Joseph Campbell during the late 1970s to Northern France. The focus of the trip was on the splendid images and stories of the European Middle Ages, with an emphasis on the Grail Romances. He will incorporate a powerpoint memoir of that trip, as well as amplifying a series of archetypal dreams associated with it, drawing parallels between Nordic and Greek mythology, and connecting them to the alchemical processes of transformation catalyzed by the journey and encounter with Campbell, one of the great educators of our day.
Indeed, the February Myth Salon with Jim Weatherall and the March Myth Salon with Lans are certain to be unique, engaging and filled with adventure, myth, and great stories! So, let us know if you’re able to attend either or both!
Now, I want to bring up some feedback I have received – concerns and potential shifts in the Myth Salon for your consideration and comment. First, it has been brought to my attention that to date, the Myth Salon speakers and presenters have been predominantly male – a fact I made no attempt to dispute. Secondly, I’ve received numerous requests from people in the alumni community who have expressed a strong desire to present their own material at a Myth Salon. As to the first concern, we would welcome more female participation in the roster of presenters. So, if you have any recommendations or suggestions about high quality female presenters or if you’d like to organize a presentation yourself, let’s work on righting the imbalance. Where are the women? Regarding the second, listening to those among us at a Myth Salon could very possibly strengthen the quality of our program content. We would like to hear your thoughts about making use of our own community to make presentations at the Myth Salon. So, please let us know about both of these concerns.
In addition to serving as a feature of Pacifica Graduate Institute’s extended community that includes faculty and staff, students, alumni, and interested friends, The Myth Salon serves those who cultivate their interests in Jungian, Depth Psychology, cultural and mythological studies. Each month, the Myth Salon gathers together with an invited presenter in my Santa Monica home from 7-9pm for an evening of mythic content, ritual and discussion that is moderated by my good friend and colleague, Dr. Will Linn.
So, we look forward to seeing you here in February, March and April! If you have friends or associates who might wish to receive the Myth Salon email announcements, or if you desire to attend either or both of the upcoming Myth Salons on February 21 with Jim Weatherall or March 13 with Lans Smith, please let us know.
Talk to you soon,
Dana C. White, PhD
Host – The Myth Salon
2623 29th Street,
Santa Monica, CA 90405