Know Thyself

Art & Literature, Culture, Film, Media, Picturing the Word — By on May 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Welcome to Podcast 13! This is the second to final podcast of the series and John and I are having a hard time believing that our undergraduate education is almost at an end.

Our curriculum this week was part 2 of the theme “Sacrifice.”

We watched:

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983)

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)

“Doctor Who” (Utopia / Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords 3.11–13)

Read:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Not unusually, this week we totally ignored the curriculum theme and instead decided to focus on how self-identity and knowing the self pay a role in the success of a hero and the failure of a villain. John and I journey through the identity-discovery of Harry Potter and also think about our own personal experiences, reflecting on the past four years of life at Biola.

As always, we would love your comments and questions. Comment below or email John and I at picturingtheword@gmail.com .

Happy listening! ‘


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  • drsteeve

    You referenced the stories of Spiderman and Harry Potter when discussing the importance of “knowing thyself” to heroism. In the Spiderman story, Peter Parker came to know himself because he was no longer able to act as a super hero and save his friends. In the Potter mythology, Potter had an outside influence (Dumbeldor) revealing to Harry who he was. These literary techniques are great for driving plots, but where is their equal in the real world?

    How, in your opinion, can the average person come to know oneself?

  • Danielle H.

    Great questions Dustin!

    The first thing that comes to mind for me is creating a safe space for mistakes and failure. Anyone who is intent upon being perfect and doing everything right and who beats themselves up for a wrong step will never learn anything about themselves. Mistakes are just an important part the getting-to-know-me process. I mean, don't intentionally make them, but when you DO (as you inevitably will) give yourself space to think about what your mistake says about you and what you can learn from it.

    A second thing is just to be an intentional, open-minded learner. The more I learn, the less I know, but the more clues I get to understanding who I am and what I actually think. College and all the reading I did and all the exposure I had to various ideas really opened up vast horizons for me. As the boundaries of my thought-life expanded, so did my understanding of self.

    The third suggestion I have is to be intentional about processing your experiences. Think about how they affect you and why they affect you in those ways. Know what your emotional catalysts are and be able to identify your emotions.

    The final thought is that you should surround yourself with trustworthy friends and a mentor or two who can speak honestly about what they observe of you, and who's advice you can count on. Your community is vital to helping you on the journey to self discovery–iron sharpens iron. We need each other. I am absolutely certain that I would be a worse person if I were a hermit.

    Ultimately, I don't know that Peter Parker and Harry Potter do anything different–they learn from mistakes, they process trauma and joy and loss and gain, they learn about the world around them (maybe not from books, but they are attentive observers of people and environments), and they develop solid relationships which support, sharpen, shock, and shape them. Their lives are more extraordinary, but their souls are still human.