The Power of Myth

 

The Power of MythWith Bill Moyers, ed. by Sue Flowers, New York: Anchor Books, 1988.

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell is an extraordinary book because it’s not a book. It’s a typescript of radio dialogues, which makes for the liveliness of the content. I recommend it to everyone who lacks time to read more of the great scholar, or who is a bit at pains with reading highly academic diction.

This book can be savored word for word, it can be read aloud, it can be read at night, as bedtime lecture, and it will always give a fascinating read. I read it in one night, as it was such a fascinating lecture. Bill Moyers is a very present interviewer and he surely had a liking for interviewing ‘the Great Campbell;’ his sympathy for him is not to be overlooked, and was most conducive to bringing about an invaluable document of the deeper thoughts of the great scholar. Campbell initiates the discourse with a general thought on modern science and its strong focus upon specialism. Continue reading

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Oriental Mythology

 

Oriental MythologyNew York: Penguin Arkana, 1991, Originally published in 1962.

When we want to learn what the difference is between our culture and its patriarchal roots, so well described by Joseph Campbell in Occidental Mythology, then we are on a path of synthesis, and of unification.

Campbell expresses it in Oriental Mythology in the terms ‘The Indian point of view is metaphysical, poetical; the biblical, ethical and historical.’

We could also say that the Oriental mind is better able to tolerate opposites instead of being trapped by them, and as a result can assume the simultaneous existence and non-existence of reality, god or truth. Or, to use modern terminology, the Orient did not need quantum physics for understanding that life is essentially patterned and nonlinear, not hierarchical and linear. Continue reading

Occidental Mythology

 

Occidental MythologyPrinceton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series, XVII, 1973.

Occidental Mythology, to say it coarsely, renders the murder culture eventually comprehensive. It is Joseph Campbell’s merit to have unveiled Isis a second time, after her first veil was torn by Helena Blavatsky …

It all started with a murder, the Murder of the Goddess, and it became the mold of all the murders perpetrated thereafter. And he, the scholar, politely talks about ambivalence and inversion for explaining that the basic symbols of the Bible address a pictorial message to the heart that exactly reverses the verbal message addressed to the brain, and that this nervous discord inhabits both Christianity and Islam as well as Judaism, since they too share in the legacy of the Old Testament. We do have a constant rhetoric in the Bible that uses the word ‘love’ like a strange kind of balm for the wounds torn by violence and the patriarchal fear of the female. Continue reading

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

 

The Hero with a Thousand FacesPrinceton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series, XVII, 1973

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is one of Joseph Campbell’s best books. It contains much of the other books, but when it comes to presenting the material, this book really is well-edited. The headers are comprehensive and the book in its overall makeup addresses not only scholars but also a young and always-young audience as it has a significant contact with present-day reality.

We are now once again in the midst of a Hero Cult, and Campbell has to be credited with the merit to have shown the negative sides of this patriarchy-related phenomenon and its many undesirable consequences. Contrary to the proponents of the cult of hero modeling, Campbell makes it all clear that, by following this idea, you miss your soul entirely. In the meantime, he is not the only one who is saying that. We are going to see further down in the review of Care of the Soul (1994) by Thomas Moore, that there are more authors now being alert to warn us about the dangers of hero modeling, and perfectionism, as these are symptoms of both individual and cultural narcissism. Continue reading