"Mining the Myth from Memory" from the Introduction to Our Daily Breach: Exploring Your Personal Myth Through Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (2015) by Dennis Patrick Slattery
It may seem strange to speak of literary classics as ancestors, but they are. Akin to voices from the past, they have the capacity to shape our present by helping us to discern what in our contemporary world we continue to struggle with: power, violence, murder, vengeance, fidelity, homelessness, excess, slavery, resentments, prejudice, love, family, order, rebirth, fate, destiny, freedom, the power of the past, to name a few. Contemplating these human qualities, gifts, weaknesses and action through poems like Moby-Dick can be as initiating as they are illuminating and enjoyable.
Some deep psychological, emotional, even spiritual needs may be reclaimed as forms of inheritance that are both personal and communal. They incarnate through their plots' enactments the capacity to order our lives in ways that we cannot muster alone. They are not documents espousing political agendas but exciting mythic enactments of events that take place in all of us on some level of significance that we can attune ourselves to with sympathy and imaginal generosity (p. 16).
The following is an excerpt from Dennis Patrick Slattery's book Our Daily Breach: Exploring Your Personal Myth Through Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Dennis Patrick Slattery is core faculty in Pacifica's M.A. and Ph.D. in Mythological Studies Program. His areas of emphasis include the poetic imagination, writing and reading as mythic activities, the relation of psyche, spirit and matter, and the place of contemplation within the academic setting.