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Mystical Realism and Transcendental Style in Film: A Mindful Film-Viewing Seminar Week of July 19-26, 2019

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Workshop Details

Mythologist Joseph Campbell taught that “the images of myths are reflections of the spiritual and depth potentialities of every one of us...Through contemplating those, we evoke their powers in our own lives to operate through ourselves.” In our time, filmmakers have given us new opportunities to do just this. Michael Murphy, co-founder of Esalen, defined mystical realism in film (in the words of Esalen Chair of the Board of Trustees Jeff Kripal) as “an imaginative elaboration of human experiences that have actually occurred to numerous individuals… something both fundamentally subjective (mystical) but also empirical and objective (realism).” Paul Schrader’s seminal book, Transcendental Style in Film, helpfully describes how master directors Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson and Carl Dreyer evoke the transcendent by means that are “neither ineffable nor magical: every effect has a cause.”

Through mindful viewing of 14 feature films exemplifying mystical realism, you will be guided toward using your eyes, minds and hearts to discover what Joseph Campbell called “metaphors transparent to transcendence.” The workshop employs methods developed over 28 film seminars at Esalen (1990–2016) co-led by Francis and Brother David Steindl-Rast: films carefully curated; state-of-the-art equipment including 4K Blu-ray video projection and seven loudspeakers; PDF syllabus on the films; and reflection and group interaction focused on the participant’s unique experience of each film. Movies take on an exquisite cumulative power when shown and processed over seven days in a group setting at Esalen.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs;


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