Consider the phoenix. Its mythologic value is meant to come from its rebirth, its eternal flame --it is the sun, always abandoning us to the fear and loneliness of the night, always returning from its slumber. It is a positive, comforting image.
How did we forget, post-apocalyptic-minded that we are (for the American man-cockroach shall survive the End of Days with nuclear family at his side) that a phoenix has to die before it's reborn? It is immolated; it subjects itself to the wretched end we gave to heretics and the "sinner."
The phoenix, therefore, represents a darker premise/conceit of the modern conscience. It tells us that no matter the self-destructive behaviors we employ, we can have redemption-through-suffering. Indeed, to this firstworldproblem state of mind, the self-destructive behavior must reach the phoenix fire before it can get better.
2 weeks ago