Research Draft

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[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.79" background_layout="light" border_style="solid"] At this stage of my research, it has been increasingly clear that my central topic which is the mythology of ethnic Filipino folklore is very rich in terms of potential or angles from which I can approach my project. The key concepts in my domains alone are already substantial and so far, the things I am looking at have unlocked various lenses from which I could be able to see this topic and produce something from it.

To start, my key concepts in my domain are psychology, sociology, anthropology, storytelling, and myth-making. I am highly interested on how I can approach this theme of mythology as a story teller and as someone who is interested in seeing how these mythological elements contribute to the formation of the individual and how it can inform society and the collective consciousness of a group of people.

I will invest on researching the psychological aspect of my domain given how I need to understand how myths are integral to the formation of a person’s identity. And how like in Jungian Psychology, there is an exploration of myths and archetypes that ultimately directs the characteristics of how myths inform real life conceptions and behavior.

Meanwhile, the sociological and anthropological part of the research aims to further understand the impact of myth-making in developing social belief systems. Societies tend to grow around these narratives, and for something so rich and abundant to withstand globalization is something very interesting to me due to how I too am affected by it. I also need to know the concept of “community” across narratives of both the lore and the wider, 21st century audience given that the social impact of these myths tend to vary depending on how advanced or urbanized the audience is.

The domain also extends to knowledge of storytelling and mythmaking. I suppose I need to understand how narratives are told and have evolved using the monomyth, the hero’s journey, and whether or not those concepts are culturally applicable or consistent with Filipino myths. So far, I am entertaining the question of how does modern myth-making reference old mythological tales? Is it still the same myth when it’s informed by modern views and interpretations? The same questions arise for traditions. Are “new” traditions a thing? The same with old myths being retold through a different spin or from a different point of view—what are the rules of re-appropriation?

 

Archetypes

Through my key concepts I was able to gravitate toward specific sources and discussions on how I can further inform myself and substantiate my research. So far, among the most interesting would be the study of archetypes by psychologist Carl Jung, a discussion on Myth and Movies by Stuart Voytilla, and The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim—to name a few. These sources allow me to navigate better the direction I’m headed for when I’m dealing with more local sources, like that from Filipino writers and researchers.

For instance, according to Carl Jung, “the archetype is the introspectively recognizable form of a priori psychic orderliness… These images must be thought of as lacking in solid content, hence as unconscious.”[1] The wonderful part of Jung’s approach is that while archetypes themselves may be conceived as a relatively few and innate nebulous forms, (from which many innumerable images, symbols and patterns of behavior arise,) Jung was still able to categorize the patterns of how the mind interprets mythological stories through the archetypes.

He put forward concepts in his system such as: individuation, symbols, the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious, archetypes, complexes, the persona, the shadow, the anima and animus, and the self. According to Jung, the archetypes form a dynamic substratum common to all humanity. With the archetypes as foundation, the individual builds his own experience of life, coloring them with his unique culture, personality and life events. Jung described archetypal events like: birth, death, initiation, marriage. He described archetypal figures such as: the great mother, father, child, devil, god, wise old man, wise old woman, the trickster, the hero. And archetypal motifs: the apocalypse, the deluge, the creation in which these were later used constantly in modern mythmaking and storytelling.

Of all the recurring archetypal images, "the chief among them being" (according to Jung) "the shadow, the wise old man, the child, the mother ... and her counterpart, the maiden, and lastly the anima in man and the animus in woman,”[2] the one which intrigues me most is the shadow. The shadow is a representation of the personal unconscious as a whole and usually embodies the compensating values to those held by the conscious personality. Thus, the shadow often represents one's dark side, those aspects of oneself that exist, but which one does not acknowledge or with which one does not identify.[3]

If I must link this to my own topic (which is the mythological monsters of Filipino lore,) I recall reading that monsters are humanity's shadows which we project onto our stories, and feed our dears in return. They represent our inmost fears and the projected ugly desires and repressions. Archetypes seek actualization within the context of an individual's environment and determine the degree of individuation. Archetypes abound in contemporary films and literature as they have in creative works of the past, being unconscious projections of the collective unconscious that serve to embody central societal and developmental struggles in a media that entertain as well as instruct. Films are a contemporary form of mythmaking, reflecting our response to ourselves and the mysteries and wonders of our existence.[4]

A contemporary definition is given by O'Brien (2017) as follows: "Archetypes are universal organizing themes or patterns that appear regardless of space, time, or person. A criticism of archetypes is that seeing myths as universals tends to abstract them from the history of their actual creation, and their cultural context.[5]

Some modern critics state that archetypes reduce cultural expressions to generic decontextualized concepts, stripped bare of their unique cultural context, reducing a complex reality into something “simple and easy to grasp.” Other critics respond that archetypes do nothing more than to solidify the cultural prejudices of the myths interpreter – namely modern Westerners. Modern scholarship with its emphasis on power and politics have seen archetypes as a colonial device to level the specifics of individual cultures and their stories in the service of grand abstraction. Bettelheim presents another case that states fairy tales help children solve certain existential problems such separation anxiety, oedipal conflict, and sibling rivalries. The extreme violence and ugly emotions of many fairy tales serve to deflect what may well be going on in the child's mind anyway. A child's unrealistic fears often require unrealistic hopes. The fairy tale proceeds in a manner which conforms to the way a child thinks and experiences the world; this is why the fairy tale is so convincing to him. He can gain much better solace from a fairy tale than he can from an effort to comfort him based on adult reasoning and viewpoints. A child trusts what the fairy story tells, because its world view accords with his own. I think the culture of experiencing the fairy tale has its own parallels with monsters in Filipino Folklores (though with more elements of fear). I would argue that monsters in Filipino folklores are archetypes which powerfully capture the collective consciousness of Filipinos.

[1]  Carl G. Jung. Synchronicity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), 140.

[2]  J. Jacobi. Complex, Archetype, Symbol (London 1959), 114.

[3]  Michael Fordham. Explorations Into the Self (Library of Analytical Psychology, 1985), 15.

[4] Stuart Voytilla. Myth & the Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure (Oxford: Elsevier LTD, 1999), 1.

[5] Holt and Cameron Douglas. Cultural Strategy (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Questions

A lot of questions arise from that initial research process of having read all about the psychology and the sociological impacts of myth-making. For instance, the content of my research domain now is populated by questions for interview, for research, and even questions on my experiment content.

The content of my domain research will happen in steps. Firstly, of finding and reading sources that focus on early interpretation of myths and their presentations. Secondly, conducting interviews with experts on the subfields of myth study and storytelling, and build or conceptualize prototypes experimenting these interpretations. The sources will include the researches done by academics who studied local Filipino myths, as well as academics who studied similar southeast Asian myths and Greek myths. As well as implementation of myths on mediums such as video games and digital art.

My research and interview questions rely most on my interest in knowing other people’s personal experience of various myth and monsters. I would like to know what fascinates regular people and what fascinates scholars, what draws them to this genre or this culture specifically? I would also like to hear more of that experience of sharing the stories and being part of a larger group of people who keep the stories alive.

I am also drawn into questions like: Why are there many interpretations of myths? Is there such a thing as the right canon story? Who were the primary audience of the myths and how were they originally told? I hope they have opinions on the different ways myths are interpreted through new mediums and what of their essence once adopted by more modern story-telling mediums.

I am currently on the hunt for projects that are similar and will resonate to mine, just so I can further analyze and have a direction for what I will create in terms of this project.

 

Collective Journey

To further my discussion, (just a recap,) my thesis concept which deals with collaborative narration and monsters within myths connect to domains of psychological research and archetypes within the characters and the monsters. But the more collaborative aspect of what I am attempting to do is a nod to the insight of the “collective journey” by Jeff Gomez, one of the world’s leading story experts, is a new modality of storytelling that has emerged and has tremendous impact on the digital age.

According to Jeff, “the participative, non-linear narratives of Collective Journey are a response to how pervasive communications have supremely impacted classic linear storytelling, giving rise to remarkable — some say unexplainable and even frightening — developments in consumer behavior, media, politics, and world events.”[1] To participate in the components of a collective journey is empowering. It’s a medium that encourages narratives to be developed within a communication of stories that intertwine. I’d like to learn more about that in the process of developing my thesis.

Other Sources

There are also several key thinkers in my domains, which from an academic viewpoint in Filipino myths. I have Dr. Maximo Ramos, who deals with the academic research on Filipino myths, folk tales and monsters. Damiana L. Eugenio, who deals with folk literature series. But of course, a lot of the studies of myths involve the psychologists Carl Jung and Bruno Bettelheim who has influenced a wealth of research into myths and archetypes leading to the formation of modern storytelling. Carl Jung's archetypes are notable found in every form of stories as well as Joseph Campbell’s the heroes journey.

Aside from this, other influencers on modern myths also touch on video games such as “Troll” that explores twisting the archetypes, and “Never Alone” which explores storytelling possibilities with oral Alaskan myths of the Iñupiaq tribe.

As I continue my research on to myths I also keep a close hand peers such as Vinci Bueza, an anthropologist who is in collaboration with the IP communities directly to try and initiate a discussion on culture and how they interpret their traditions in light of modern day concerns like global warming and urbanization. I also look to psychologists such as Dr. Hadj Balajadia who guide me on the fields of psychology.

On exploring the myths I’ve also touched base with the team from the Aswang Project who developed a more accessible medium such as the Aswang Project website to inform people of the myth of Philippine monsters through articles and source guides. And to say the least they’ve been very inspiring.

On Game Design and Storytelling, I have our Nic Fortiguno who is helping me explore possibilities of storytelling through games.

On testing, my prototypes I’ve explored testing them with people on D12 as well as friends, clubs and organizations around the university.

 

Predecessors and Models

As for the models of my predecessors, I am inspired by the twist on trolls’ archetypes done by the video game Troll and I which is inspired by stories of both bloodthirsty and benevolent trolls, though the titular creature falls much heavier on the benevolent side of things. The game takes a unique look at these mythical stories by having you befriend a troll out of necessity; rather than being a fearsome enemy, this troll needs your protection as much as you need his. By shifting the dynamic, the game captures both the fun of returning to a classic story as well as creating its own unique version, a careful balance of both creativity and classic storytelling. While other supernatural creatures do appear as enemies, the game emphasizes the compassion that’s possible between humans and nonhumans, while taking care that humans can be ugly and ferocious, too. By playing with mythological archetypes, Troll and I show us familiar creatures in an interesting and unique new light.

Another game is “Never alone” where you play as Nuna, a young Iñupiaq girl trying to find her way home with a spirit fox companion. Throughout the story, you interact with various aspects of these important stories, with optional video commentary to give you the background information of the Iñupiat. The game plays like a folktale of its own, as you navigate a realistic world infused with magic and mystery, discovering more of the legend as you go. It’s a fascinating look at a living culture, and allowing the Iñupiat to tell their story in their own language gives it a sense of authenticity many mythological video games lack.

I chose these models because these are narratives which uses myths and archetypes and twist them in presentation. Which is something I would really like to do. By subverting norms of familiar tropes in myth making and storytelling I want to try and explore a different way of presenting the myths.

My research trajectory

So far, early in this research it’s starting to feel multi-faceted in terms of domains. It’s a fun challenge and it has introduced a lot of options and input that I must consider in building my final project. It will add more on the growing collective journey narrative structure, it will introduce new forms of archetypes or variations of them, explore a new way of myths and storytelling.

However, I would like to stay active and really follow the lead of researchers who are forming the base of my research. There is a series of conferences and gatherings I’m attending are the NYC Media Lab where various researchers and students will be presenting work regarding new media technologies with storytelling and interaction. It will give me an insight on what people are working on these days. Another is the The Future of Storytelling, where storytellers around the country and parts of the world gather to share new ways of telling stories using various mediums. This would give me an insight on precedents and inspiration on how to work on my project.

The World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship can give me an insight on the new technologies emerging and how they can help other people. It might give me insight on how my project can extend its scope and be used as a product or a communication tool for others.

And of course, as a consumer of myths and stories, modern myth making has evolved into the world of new media, comics and novels so the New York Comic Convention which brings together writers and storytellers can help me expand my perspective of new myths and stories.

I hope that the path I’ve set on my research is clear and would help lead me to the goals and new discoveries for my thesis.

[1]  Jeff Gomez, "The Collective Journey Series:," Blog.collectivejourney.com (web log), February 13, 2017.

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