Category Archives: hero’s journey

Lost and the Postmodern Hero?

As I’ve been studying the hero’s journey (see link in post below, think Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: a single character rises to the challenge of a quest set before him/her and goes through many trials in order to acheive that quest), I’ve been trying to think about how this relates to postmodern story telling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_modern_literature). Pre-postmodern literature often sees a quest for meaning in a chaotic world, where the postmodern rejects or parodies this singular quest. So my question is what does the post modern hero’s journey look like?

This question came about while watching Lost this week. All of the characters seem to be on their own “journey”–mentally, as well as the obvious physical one. However, there doesn’t seem to be one clear “hero” (despite the hero complexes that many of the characters portray). Each of the survivors on the island are facing individual “roads of trial,” emphasized by the flashbacks and flash-forwards.

The modernist side of my brain wants to make it all linear: that there is one “answer” for what is going on and that all of the characters stories weave together in a single, satisfying narrative strand. But as the episodes of this season progress, I find myself being frustrated at my inability to connect everything together. The postmodern side of my brain is loving the complexity of the empathy I feel for Ben and the vastness of Juliet’s motives. It is grappling with letting go of the desire to have one, clear answer that explains everything that has happened on the island.

It appears that there are multiple levels of “quests” that are happening and have happened on the island–they include high stakes conspiracies as well as individual odysseys. Do I need to let go of the dream that they are all intimately connected? Do I need to embrace this portrayal of the potential post modern hero? (Would all characters qualify as such?)

Well, after that potentially inarticulate rant, at the very least, Lost serves as a distraction to the things I actually need to accomplish today. Sigh.

Nerd Fest.

I’m teaching the Hero’s Journey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth) to the youth and I’m finding that I’m becoming way more of a dork than I feared was possible. I spent my evening watching analyzing the first Harry Potter movie. Then I watched a George Lucas interview with Bill Moyers called “The Mythology of Star Wars” and it was ridiculously interesting. I’m now motivated to watch A New Hope, which has been sitting on my desk and clogging my Netflix efficiency. Previously, I didn’t want this kind of science fiction to relate to my love of story (which is the same thing I said before I feel in love with The Lord of the Rings).

Clearly it’s too late for me to do any more serious thinking, but just get excited. And clearly, I have no hope for ever being cool. I’m seeing the Hero’s Journey everywhere and I have a feeling that what my posts are going to be about in the coming weeks. Just to get you as excited as I am: