Robert Bly: Iron John
“I speak of the Wild Man in this book, and the distinction between the savage man and the Wild Man is crucial throughout. The savage mode does great damage to soul, earth, and humankind; we can say that though the savage man is wounded he prefers not to examine it.
The Wild Man, who has examined his wound, resembles a Zen priest, a shaman, or a woodsman more than a savage. The knowledge of how to build a nest in a bare tree, how to fly to the wintering place, how to perform the mating dance—all of this information is stored in the reservoirs of the bird’s instinctual brain.
But human beings, sensing how much flexibility they might need in meeting new situations, decided to store this sort of knowledge outside the instinctual system; they stored it in stories. Stories, then—fairy stories, legends, myths, hearth stories—amount to a reservoir where we keep new ways of responding that we can adopt when the conventional and current ways wear out.
Some of the great students of this reservoir in recent centuries have been George Groddeck, Gurdjieff, Carl Jung, Heinrich Zimmer, Joseph Campbell, and Georges Dumezil.
This book draws on a whole community of men, many of whom worked in this field long before I entered it.
First among those is Alexander Mitscherlich, the German analyst, who died in 1981, and many fine thinkers in English as well.”
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