The 2022 Myth and Theatre Festival

Psyche’s Task

The 2022 Myth and Theatre Festival, June 20 to July 5 2022
was cancelled.
Its theme, Psyche’s Task, will be developed during July and August 2022 as part of the program

A Summer of Counterpoint

Psyche’ Task

The title comes from a book that French philosopher and friend, Xavier Papaïs enjoined me to read after his riveting and ‘pan-oramic’ talk on the history of SUPERSTITION at the 2021 Myth and Theatre Festival. The book by English anthropologist J. G. Frazer is titled Psyche’s Task (1913). We took it to task!

In brief: who is Psyche? And, what is her task… TODAY? Is it not – as we tend to think – the very core of contemporary art, and especially of ‘magical’ performance acting out?

In the story of Psyche and Eros, James Hillman saw The Myth of Analysis (1972), i.e. the basis of psychology’s analytical thinking and of its practice. Xavier Papaïs, on the other hand advocates Une Anthropologie de l’Esprit (of the mind-spirit). Our task: to walk to and fro (on a slack rope!) between these two exceptional thinkers.

About the Image: The story of Psyche and Eros is narrated in Apuleius’ book The Golden Ass (circa 170 AD). In our image, by Italian 16th C. Master of the Die, a ‘knowing’ old lady chides a young girl who, just like Psyche, got into deep love trouble. Psyche actually got into Eros’ bed, but, wanting to check on him, she lit a candle, and he vanished. I actually see smiles of complicity between the two women, while the ‘golden’ donkey is ‘all ears’ and the dog does not just ‘lie’ – he listens!

Only Aphrodite can rekindle such a divorce. The trouble is that, in this version, she is the very (possessive?) mother of Eros and sets Psyche a series of impossible tasks.

In our performance laboratories the most rewarding tasks are often the impossible ones, that constellate ‘impossible’ psychological creativity, intuition and luck. Note: one of the tasks drives Psyche to despair and it takes Pan to pre-empt her suicide.

We hope you make it to one of our classes, talks, laboratories and add your take to… Psyche’s Task.    E.P.

The inserted medallion in the Image is by Italian 16c. engraver known as Master of the Die (Dice). If you watch carefully, in the space behind the Spindle Lady, there is a small round table with two white dice on it. It was the signature of this enigmatic artist who triggered lots of speculation as to his identity. Most likely it was Marcantonio Raimondi himself, or his son Doddi Raimondi. Artwork by Enrique Pardo.

  • Check out THE ETHNOLOGICAL CLUB, a log of ideas and exchanges. Psyche’s Task, Frazer’s book, is primarily about Melanesia and Papua New Guinea and is essentially ethnological – islands and issues that were central to the discussions of the 2021 Festival.

  • See also the articles in the BLOG.

  • We are developing a catalog version of THE VIRTUAL LIBRARY.