January 29, 2018 Martial Arts Studies

Affective Mythology and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor


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 discourse-mythological 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.


DOI 10.18573/mas.47


Kelsey, Darren. 2017. ‘Affective Mythology and “The Notorious” Conor McGregor: Monomyth, Mysticism and Mixed Martial Arts’, Martial Arts Studies 5, 15-35.


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.


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