Affective mythology and 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor: monomyth, mysticism, and mixed martial arts

Darren Kelsey
2018 Martial Arts Studies  
There are many ways in which we can interpret the sporting, commercial and personal success of Conor McGregor whose stories, fights and social appearances are analysed in this paper. There are archetypal traits of the hero and the trickster in McGregor's journey, persona, legacy, and the semiosis that surrounds him through the myth of the fighting Irish, all of which I consider as affective mythologies in their psycho-discursive forms. Prior to this analysis, I revisit the
more » ... approach (DMA) whilst accounting for the psycho-discursive framework I developed to analyse affective mythologies. However, I found recurring mystical qualities which called for the expansion of this analytical framework. By analysing the myth of the law of attraction, I argue that a non-reductive materialist approach to mind and consciousness is necessary due to the role of mysticism and ideology in popular culture. Since the study of martial arts requires attention to cultural, political, economic, commercial, psychological, biological and transpersonal phenomena, this paper encourages more radical interdisciplinarity between cultural studies and biological sciences to develop innovative theorisations of culture, ideology and consciousness. 10.18573/mas.47 Darren Kelsey is Head of Media, Culture, Heritage in the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University. He researches mythology and ideology in contemporary media, culture and politics. His recent monograph, Media and Affective Mythologies, synergises approaches to critical discourse studies with the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and other mythologists. His psycho-discursive approach explores the depths of the human psyche to analyse the affective qualities of storytelling. AFFECTIVE MYTHOLOGY AND 'THE NOTORIOUS' CONOR MCGREGOR MONOMYTH, MYSTICISM AND MIXED MARTIAL ARTS DARREN KELSEY MARTIAL ARTS STUDIES 16 Winter 2017 archetypal traits of the hero and the trickster in McGregor's journey, rhetoric, embodiment, persona, cultural and personal legacies, and the semiosis that surrounds him. These elements form part of the stories he has told and the stories that have been told about him. Those stories are theorised in this paper through an analysis of affective mythology. I will discuss later, means there is no external entity being attracted to an individual through positive thoughts. That said, whilst the law of attraction might be fantastical in terms of its mystical claims about the universe, the metaphorical, affective qualities for those who use this myth to focus their mind are real; it provides a mind-set for individuals to feel positively empowered and in control. Its externalised, metaphorical form is necessary in order to stimulate its internal affect. Like religious metaphor, it serves its own mythological purpose through the affective qualities that it resonates with in the psyche (a Jungian concept of the psyche that I will return to shortly). The myth of the law of attraction only becomes a fallacy when it transforms from metaphor to literalism. McGregor, for his part, often refers to the law of attraction in both metaphorical and literal terms. 'A good fight should be like a small play, but played seriously' Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon How had McGregor become so popular? What did he symbolise and how had his 'greatness' become so widely recognised beyond MMA and the UFC, especially in his home country of Ireland? As Joe Rogan said early on in McGregor's career: There's some wild brash dude out of Ireland that was kicking people's asses and doing it in spectacular fashion ... He's got that thing, whatever it is. He's got talent, obviously he's got speed, excellent striking technique, excellent wrestling and jiu-jitsu, but he's also got that thing. It's hard to figure out what that thing is but you know when people have it. [https://youtu.be/91liSjahuNw] There are many ways in which we can interpret the sporting, commercial and personal success of McGregor. There are distinct Affective Mythology and 'The Notorious'
doi:10.18573/mas.47 fatcat:44rztugjyndmpljdpzv42ysrcu