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Get this from a library! The power of myth. [Joseph Campbell; Bill D Moyers] -- Finally available in a popularly priced, non-illustrated. The Power Of Myth launched an extraordinary resurgence of inte He breaks down some of the major archetypes like the sacrificed god and resurrection. The man behind PBS' well-known series The Power of Myth left (If you don't have Spotify's software already, you can download it free here.).
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Joseph Campbell. Myths to Live By. A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living. Bill Moyers Journal. Bill Moyers. Mearing Stones. Creative Mythology. Occidental Mythology. The Historical Development of Mythology. Thou Art That. Bios and Mythos. How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Your display name should be at least 2 characters long. At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information.
You submitted the following rating and review. We'll publish them on our site once we've reviewed them. Continue shopping. However the mystic traditions differ, he said, they are in accord in calling us to a deeper awareness of the very act of living itself.
The unpardonable sin, in Campbell's book, was the sin of inadvertence, of not being alert, not quite awake. I never met anyone who could better tell a story. Listening to him talk of primal societies, I was transported to the wide plains under the great dome of the open sky, or to the forest dense, beneath a canopy of trees, and I began to understand how the voices of the gods spoke from the wind and thunder, and the spirit of God flowed in every mountain stream, and the whole earth bloomed as a sacred place -- the realm of mythic imagination.
And I asked: Now that we moderns have stripped the earth of its mystery -- have made, in Saul Bellow's description, "a housecleaning of belief" -- how are our imaginations to be nourished?
By Hollywood and made-for-TV movies? Campbell was no pessimist. He believed there is a "point of wisdom beyond the conflicts of illusion and truth by which lives can be put back together again.
Spiritually, however, the center is where sight is. Stand on a height and view the horizon. Stand on the moon and view the whole earth rising -- even, by way of television, in your parlor. On the contrary, the new discoveries of science "rejoin us to the ancients" by enabling us to recognize in this whole universe "a reflection magnified of our own most inward nature; so that we are indeed its ears, its eyes, its thinking, and its speech -- or, in theological terms, God's ears, God's eyes, God's thinking, and God's Word.
And I thought of the time I first discovered the world of the mythic hero. I had wandered into the little public library of the town where I grew up and, casually exploring the stacks, pulled down a book that opened wonders to me: Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods for the sake of the human race; Jason, braving the dragon to seize the Golden Fleece; the Knights of the Round Table, pursuing the Holy Grail.
But not until I met Joseph Campbell did I understand that the Westerns I saw at the Saturday matinees had borrowed freely from those ancient tales. And that the stories we learned in Sunday school corresponded with those of other cultures that recognized the soul's high adventure, the quest of mortals to grasp the reality of God. He helped me to see the connections, to understand how the pieces fit, and not merely to fear less but to welcome what he described as "a mighty multicultural future.
I am not competent to enter that debate, and leave it for others to wage. He never seemed bothered by the controversy. He just kept on teaching, opening others to a new way of seeing. It was, above all, the authentic life he lived that instructs us. When he said that myths are clues to our deepest spiritual potential, able to lead us to delight, illumination, and even rapture, he spoke as one who had been to the places he was inviting others to visit.
What did draw me to him? Wisdom, yes; he was very wise. And learning; he did indeed "know the vast sweep of our panoramic past as few men have ever known it. A story's the way to tell it. He was a man with a thousand stories. This was one of his favorites. In Japan for an international conference on religion, Campbell overheard another American delegate, a social philosopher from New York, say to a Shinto priest, "We've been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines.
But I don't get your ideology. I don't get your theology. We dance. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Why myths? Why should we care about myths? What do they have to do with my life?
My first response would be, "Go on, live your life, it's a good life -- you don't need mythology. I believe in being caught by it somehow or other. But you may find that, with a proper introduction, mythology will catch you. And so, what can it do for you if it does catch you? One of our problems today is that we are not well acquainted with the literature of the spirit. We're interested in the news of the day and the problems of the hour. It used to be that the university campus was a kind of hermetically sealed-off area where the news of the day did not impinge upon your attention to the inner life and to the magnificent human heritage we have in our great tradition -- Plato, Confucius, the Buddha, Goethe, and others who speak of the eternal values that have to do with the centering of our lives.
When you get to be older, and the concerns of the day have all been attended to, and you turn to the inner life -- well, if you don't know where it is or what it is, you'll be sorry. Greek and Latin and biblical literature used to be part of everyone's education. Now, when these were dropped, a whole tradition of Occidental mythological information was lost.
It used to be that these stories were in the minds of people. When the story is in your mind, then you see its relevance to something happening in your own life. It gives you perspective on what's happening to you. With the loss of that, we've really lost something because we don't have a comparable literature to take its place.
These bits of information from ancient times, which have to do with the themes that have supported human life, built civilizations, and informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries, inner thresholds of passage, and if you don't know what the guide-signs are along the way, you have to work it out yourself.
But once this subject catches you, there is such a feeling, from one or another of these traditions, of information of a deep, rich, life-vivifying sort that you don't want to give it up. So we tell stories to try to come to terms with the world, to harmonize our lives with reality? I think so, yes. Novels -- great novels -- can be wonderfully instructive. In my twenties and thirties and even on into my forties, James Joyce and Thomas Mann were my teachers.
I read everything they wrote. Both were writing in terms of what might be called the mythological traditions.
Tonio's father was a substantial businessman, a major citizen in his hometown. Little Tonio, however, had an artistic temperament, so he moved to Munich and joined a group of literary people who felt themselves above the mere money earners and family men. So here is Tonio between two poles: But Tonio found that he really loved these hometown people.
And although he thought himself a little superior in an intellectual way to them and could describe them with cutting words, his heart was nevertheless with them. But when he left to live with the bohemians, he found that they were so disdainful of life that he couldn't stay with them, either.
So he left them, and wrote a letter back to someone in the group, saying, "I admire those cold, proud beings who adventure upon the paths of great and daemonic beauty and despise 'mankind'; but I do not envy them.
For if anything is capable of making a poet of a literary man, it is my hometown love of the human, the living and ordinary. All warmth derives from this love, all kindness and all humor.
Indeed, to me it even seems that this must be that love of which it is written that one may 'speak with the tongues of men and of angels,' and yet, lacking love, be 'as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
The perfect human being is uninteresting -- the Buddha who leaves the world, you know. It is the imperfections of life that are lovable.
And when the writer sends a dart of the true word, it hurts. But it goes with love. This is what Mann called "erotic irony," the love for that which you are killing with your cruel, analytical word.
I cherish that image: That was where you first discovered people. But why do you say you love people for their imperfections? Aren't children lovable because they're falling down all the time and have little bodies with the heads too big? Didn't Walt Disney know all about this when he did the seven dwarfs? And these funny little dogs that people have -- they're lovable because they're so imperfect. Perfection would be a bore, wouldn't it?
It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal -- that's what's lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there's no imperfection there.
You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It's Christ on the cross that becomes lovable. What do you mean? Suffering is imperfection, is it not? I came to understand from reading your books -- The Masks of God or The Hero with a Thousand Faces, for example -- that what human beings have in common is revealed in myths. Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story.
We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death. We need for life to signify, to touch the eternal, to understand the mysterious, to find out who we are. People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life.
I don't think that's what we're really seeking. That's what it's all finally about, and that's what these clues help us to find within ourselves. Myths are clues? Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life. What we're capable of knowing and experiencing within? You changed the definition of a myth from the search for meaning to the experience of meaning. Experience of life. The mind has to do with meaning. What's the meaning of a flower?
There's a Zen story about a sermon of the Buddha in which he simply lifted a flower. There was only one man who gave him a sign with his eyes that he understood what was said. Now, the Buddha himself is called "the one thus come. What's the meaning of the universe? What's the meaning of a flea? It's just there. That's it. And your own meaning is that you're there.
We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it's all about. How do you get that experience? Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people's myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts -- but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message.
Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive. It tells you what the experience is. Marriage, for example.
What is marriage? The myth tells you what it is. It's the reunion of the separated duad. Originally you were one. You are now two in the world, but the recognition of the spiritual identity is what marriage is. It's different from a love affair. It has nothing to do with that. It's another mythological plane of experience. When people get married because they think it's a long-time love affair, they'll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is recognition of a spiritual identity.
If we live a proper life, if our minds are on the right qualities in regarding the person of the opposite sex, we will find our proper male or female counterpart. But if we are distracted by certain sensuous interests, we'll marry the wrong person. By marrying the right person, we reconstruct the image of the incarnate God, and that's what marriage is. The right person? How does one choose the right person?
Your heart tells you. It ought to. Your inner being. That's the mystery. You recognize your other self. Well, I don't know, but there's a flash that comes, and something in you knows that this is the one.
If marriage is this reunion of the self with the self, with the male or female grounding of ourselves, why is it that marriage is so precarious in our modern society? Because it's not regarded as a marriage. I would say that if the marriage isn't a first priority in your life, you're not married. The marriage means the two that are one, the two become one flesh.
48 Hours of Joseph Campbell Lectures Free Online: The Power of Myth & Storytelling | Open Culture
If the marriage lasts long enough, and if you are acquiescing constantly to it instead of to individual personal whim, you come to realize that that is true -- the two really are one. One not only biologically but spiritually. Primarily spiritually.
The biological is the distraction which may lead you to the wrong identification. Then the necessary function of marriage, perpetuating ourselves in children, is not the primary one.
No, that's really just the elementary aspect of marriage. There are two completely different stages of marriage.
First is the youthful marriage following the wonderful impulse that nature has given us in the interplay of the sexes biologically in order to produce children. But there comes a time when the child graduates from the family and the couple is left. I've been amazed at the number of my friends who in their forties or fifties go apart. They have had a perfectly decent life together with the child, but they interpreted their union in terms of their relationship through the child.
They did not interpret it in terms of their own personal relationship to each other. Marriage is a relationship. When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.
The Chinese image of the Tao, with the dark and light interacting -- that's the relationship of yang and yin, male and female, which is what a marriage is. And that's what you have become when you have married. You're no longer this one alone; your identity is in a relationship. Marriage is not a simple love affair, it's an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one. So marriage is utterly incompatible with the idea of doing one's own thing.
It's not simply one's own thing, you see. It is, in a sense, doing one's own thing, but the one isn't just you, it's the two together as one. And that's a purely mythological image signifying the sacrifice of the visible entity for a transcendent good. This is something that becomes beautifully realized in the second stage of marriage, what I call the alchemical stage, of the two experiencing that they are one.
If they are still living as they were in the primary stage of marriage, they will go apart when their children leave. Daddy will fall in love with some little nubile girl and run off, and Mother will be left with an empty house and heart, and will have to work it out on her own, in her own way. That's because we don't understand the two levels of marriage. You don't make a commitment. We presume to -- we make a commitment for better or for worse. That's the remnant of a ritual.
And the ritual has lost its force. The ritual that once conveyed an inner reality is now merely form. And that's true in the rituals of society and in the personal rituals of marriage and religion. How many people before marriage receive spiritual instruction as to what the marriage means? You can stand up in front of a judge and in ten minutes get married.
The marriage ceremony in India lasts three days. That couple is glued. You're saying that marriage is not just a social arrangement, it's a spiritual exercise. It's primarily a spiritual exercise, and the society is supposed to help us have the realization.
Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that's what is threatening the world at this minute. What happens when a society no longer embraces a powerful mythology? What we've got on our hands. If you want to find out what it means to have a society without any rituals, read the New York Times. And you'd find? The news of the day, including destructive and violent acts by young people who don't know how to behave in a civilized society.
Society has provided them no rituals by which they become members of the tribe, of the community. All children need to be twice born, to learn to function rationally in the present world, leaving childhood behind.
I think of that passage in the first book of Corinthians: That's exactly it. That's the significance of the puberty rites. In primal societies, there are teeth knocked out, there are scarifications, there are circumcisions, there are all kinds of things done. So you don't have your little baby body anymore, you're something else entirely.
When I was a kid, we wore short trousers, you know, knee pants. And then there was a great moment when you put on long pants.
Boys now don't get that. I see even five-year-olds walking around with long trousers. When are they going to know that they're now men and must put aside childish things? Where do the kids growing up in the city -- on th and Broadway, for example -- where do these kids get their myths today? They make them up themselves. This is why we have graffiti all over the city.
These kids have their own gangs and their own initiations and their own morality, and they're doing the best they can. But they're dangerous because their own laws are not those of the city. They have not been initiated into our society. Rollo May says there is so much violence in American society today because there are no more great myths to help young men and women relate to the world or to understand that world beyond what is seen.
Yes, but another reason for the high level of violence here is that America has no ethos. In American football, for example, the rules are very strict and complex. If you were to go to England, however, you would find that the rugby rules are not that strict. When I was a student back in the twenties, there were a couple of young men who constituted a marvelous forward-passing pair. They went to Oxford on scholarship and joined the rugby team and one day they introduced the forward pass.
And the English players said, "Well, we have no rules for this, so please don't. We don't play that way. There is an ethos there, there is a mode, an understanding that, "we don't do it that way. A mythology. An unstated mythology, you might say. This is the way we use a fork and knife, this is the way we deal with people, and so forth. It's not all written down in books.
But in America we have people from all kinds of backgrounds, all in a cluster, together, and consequently law has become very important in this country. Lawyers and law are what hold us together. There is no ethos. Do you see what I mean?
It's what De Tocqueville described when he first arrived here a hundred and sixty years ago to discover "a tumult of anarchy. What we have today is a demythologized world. And, as a result, the students I meet are very much interested in mythology because myths bring them messages. Now, I can't tell you what the messages are that the study of mythology is bringing to young people today. I know what it did for me.
But it is doing something for them. When I go to lecture at any college, the room is bursting with students who have come to hear what I have to say. The faculty very often assigns me to a room that's a little small -- smaller than it should have been because they didn't know how much excitement there was going to be in the student body.
Take a guess. What do you think the mythology, the stories they're going to hear from you, do for them? They're stories about the wisdom of life, they really are. What we're learning in our schools is not the wisdom of life.
We're learning technologies, we're getting information. There's a curious reluctance on the part of faculties to indicate the life values of their subjects. In our sciences today -- and this includes anthropology, linguistics, the study of religions, and so forth -- there is a tendency to specialization.
And when you know how much a specialist scholar has to know in order to be a competent specialist, you can understand this tendency. To study Buddhism, for instance, you have to be able to handle not only all the European languages in which the discussions of the Oriental come, particularly French, German, English, and Italian, but also Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and several other languages. Now, this is a tremendous task. Such a specialist can't also be wondering about the difference between the Iroquois and Algonquin.
Specialization tends to limit the field of problems that the specialist is concerned with. Now, the person who isn't a specialist, but a generalist like myself, sees something over here that he has learned from one specialist, something over there that he has learned from another specialist -- and neither of them has considered the problem of why this occurs here and also there. So the generalist -- and that's a derogatory term, by the way, for academics -- gets into a range of other problems that are more genuinely human, you might say, than specifically cultural.
Then along comes the journalist who has a license to explain things he doesn't understand. That is not only a license but something that is put upon him -- he has an obligation to educate himself in public. Now, I remember when I was a young man going to hear Heinrich Zimmer lecture. He was the first man I know of to speak about myths as though they had messages that were valid for life, not just interesting things for scholars to fool around with.
And that confirmed me in a feeling I had had ever since boyhood. Do you remember the first time you discovered myth? The first time the story came alive in you? I was brought up as a Roman Catholic. Now, one of the great advantages of being brought up a Roman Catholic is that you're taught to take myth seriously and to let it operate on your life and to live in terms of these mythic motifs.
I was brought up in terms of the seasonal relationships to the cycle of Christ's coming into the world, teaching in the world, dying, resurrecting, and returning to heaven. The ceremonies all through the year keep you in mind of the eternal core of all that changes in time. Sin is simply getting out of touch with that harmony. And I wanted to know more about Indians. My father and mother were very generous parents and found what books were being written for boys about Indians at that time.
So I began to read American Indian myths, and it wasn't long before I found the same motifs in the American Indian stories that I was being taught by the nuns at school.
One after another. And what happened? I was excited. That was the beginning of my interest in comparative mythology. Did you begin by asking, "Why does it say it this way while the Bible says it that way? No, I didn't start the comparative analysis until many years later. What appealed to you about the Indian stories? In those days there was still American Indian lore in the air.
Indians were still around. Even now, when I deal with myths from all parts of the world, I find the American Indian tales and narratives to be very rich, very well developed.
And then my parents had a place out in the woods where the Delaware Indians had lived, and the Iroquois had come down and fought them. There was a big ledge where we could dig for Indian arrowheads and things like that. And the very animals that play the role in the Indian stories were there in the woods around me. It was a grand introduction to this material. Did these stories begin to collide with your Catholic faith?
No, there was no collision. The collision with my religion came much later in relation to scientific studies and things of that kind. Later I became interested in Hinduism, and there were the same stories again.
And in my graduate work I was dealing with the Arthurian medieval material, and there were the same stories again. So you can't tell me that they're not the same stories. I've been with them all my life. They come from every culture but with timeless themes. The themes are timeless, and the inflection is to the culture. So the stories may take the same universal theme but apply it slightly differently, depending upon the accent of the people who are speaking?
Oh, yes. If you were not alert to the parallel themes, you perhaps would think they were quite different stories, but they're not. You taught mythology for thirty-eight years at Sarah Lawrence. How did you get these young women, coming to college from their middle-class backgrounds, from their orthodox religions -- how did you get them interested in myths?
Young people just grab this stuff. Mythology teaches you what's behind literature and the arts, it teaches you about your own life. It's a great, exciting, life-nourishing subject. Mythology has a great deal to do with the stages of life, the initiation ceremonies as you move from childhood to adult responsibilities, from the unmarried state into the married state.
All of those rituals are mythological rites. They have to do with your recognition of the new role that you're in, the process of throwing off the old one and coming out in the new, and entering into a responsible profession. When a judge walks into the room, and everybody stands up, you're not standing up to that guy, you're standing up to the robe that he's wearing and the role that he's going to play. What makes him worthy of that role is his integrity, as a representative of the principles of that role, and not some group of prejudices of his own.
So what you're standing up to is a mythological character. I imagine some kings and queens are the most stupid, absurd, banal people you could run into, probably interested only in horses and women, you know. But you're not responding to them as personalities, you're responding to them in their mythological roles.
When someone becomes a judge, or President of the United States, the man is no longer that man, he's the representative of an eternal office; he has to sacrifice his personal desires and even life possibilities to the role that he now signifies.
So there are mythological rituals at work in our society. The ceremony of marriage is one. The ceremony of the inauguration of a President or judge is another. What are some of the other rituals that are important to society today?
Joining the army, putting on a uniform, is another. You're giving up your personal life and accepting a socially determined manner of life in the service of the society of which you are a member. This is why I think it is obscene to judge people in terms of civil law for performances that they rendered in time of war. They were acting not as individuals, they were acting as agents of something above them and to which they had by dedication given themselves.
To judge them as though they were individual human beings is totally improper. You've seen what happens when primitive societies are unsettled by white man's civilization.
They go to pieces, they disintegrate, they become diseased. Hasn't the same thing been happening to us since our myths began to disappear? Absolutely, it has. Isn't that why conservative religions today are calling for the old-time religion? Yes, and they're making a terrible mistake. They are going back to something that is vestigial, that doesn't serve life.
But didn't it serve us? Sure it did. I understand the yearning. In my youth I had fixed stars. They comforted me with their permanence. They gave me a known horizon. And they told me there was a loving, kind, and just father out there looking down on me, ready to receive me, thinking of my concerns all the time. Now, Saul Bellow says that science has made a housecleaning of beliefs. But there was value in these things for me. I am today what I am because of those beliefs. I wonder what happens to children who don't have those fixed stars, that known horizon -- those myths?
Well, as I said, all you have to do is read the newspaper. It's a mess. On this immediate level of life and structure, myths offer life models. Suddenly we realize we 'are', we actually exist. That's a weird thing. These things trouble me.
Since when do I exist? And exactly at what time did I come into being? At my There is something very fishy about our existence. One week, one month, or 6 months? And when would I really cease to exist? I read that all the organs do not 'die' at the same time. Are birth and death as real as they seem, or just mere illusions? If there's no 'I' inside me, who was born and who would die? Maybe nobody. Sometimes I wonder, What if I actually existed all the time, and will continue to exist?
It actually exists. How come a thing can 'exist' in itself? I feel an eerie tingling sensation in my lower spine. From where does these weird feelings really come? Where does thoughts come from? By scientific methodology, we know that everything is energy in one form or another, but we do not know what this weird thing energy really is. We see electron behaving as both particle and wave, which defies common sense. Nature shows us common sense doesn't work everywhere.
Science help us to familiarize and to make sense of the world to a certain extent, but in the end science just exposes us the naked mystery itself. Black Holes. Quantum fluctuation. And scientists doesn't know what consciousness really is, some say it is unknowable. We can feel it. Myths are not science. Myths are not facts. Myths are not mere cuck and bull story stories. Myths are poetry. It stands for something beyond itself, beyond the words and images.
Myths are a gateway to the transcendental realm where thoughts cannot reach. When myths are taken as too concrete and literal, it loses its original essence. It becomes religion. Joseph Campbell shows us the multi-dimensionality and the depth of myths and mythological symbols. Today we live in a world where we are totally accustomed to literal and linear thinking, we have forgotten how to think with symbols and imagery.
We live in an alienated world. Campbell is now more important than ever. We need to hear what the myths are telling us. Mar 01, Morgannah rated it it was amazing. His definition of myth, rather than being that myths are examples of the search for life's meaning, is that myths are the ongoing search for "the experience of life". According to Campbell, what myths tell us is that the meaning of life is the exper The Power of Myth is based on a series of interviews Bill Moyers conducted with Joseph Campbell in the mid 's.
According to Campbell, what myths tell us is that the meaning of life is the experience of life: Eternity has nothing to do with time! It is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out.
If you don't get it here, you won't get it anywhere. The experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. In that way, it too is like the myths Campbell loved. Joseph Campbell wasn't preaching from that chair as he sat across from Bill Moyers, he was sharing the clues that he had gathered in his ongoing search for "the experience of life".
Dec 25, Malynda Alice rated it it was amazing. The sensation I get when reading his work is of relief, that all the seemingly static and infallible truths of the world stem from very simple needs. Somehow knowing that frees me to pursue the quenching of the needs, rather than the physical trappings we have set up around that need.
It is very interesting. This book is a sort of revised and embellished version of the video interviews of Campbell conducted by Bill Moyers on Skywalker Ranch home of George Lucas. The video is six hours long and was slimmed down from 26 hours of conversation on myth and its place in our lives.
Joseph Campbell is so insighful--he sees the humanity of the study, as well as the science, spouting such sincere and life-changing directions as "follow your bliss. Mar 05, Lauren rated it it was amazing Shelves: Re-read this one after several years, and it was even more powerful this time.
I think the time and the age between helped in my understanding and comprehension. Very accessible text, and I am sure I will revisit this one again someday - maybe I can finally watch the PBS special too.
View all 5 comments. View 1 comment. Jul 08, brian tanabe rated it really liked it. I started reading the hardcover version of this and immediately realized it is a companion to a PBS series between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. So I decided to switch to the audio version — highly, highly recommended over the book. I found myself connecting with a lot of the passages, but one passage in particular definitely stands out, tackling the meaning of life. While I have a great amount of respect for Moyers, I was slightly annoyed at times with his attempts to assert his equanimity to I started reading the hardcover version of this and immediately realized it is a companion to a PBS series between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell.
And then like Buddha himself, Campbell happily goes on to explain himself. So beautiful. Bill Moyers: And yet we all have lived a life that had a purpose. Do you believe that? Joseph Campbell: Not true. Now wait a minute. Just sheer life cant be said to have a purpose because look at all the different purposes it has all over the lot. But each incarnation you might say, has potentiality and the function of life is to live that potentiality.
Well how do you do it? Should I do that? Dad says I should do this. Nov 04, Stephen rated it it was amazing Shelves: My th book for goodreads should be a memorable one.
A few pages into their dialog, I My th book for goodreads should be a memorable one. There you come to what was missing in your consciousness in the world you formerly inhabited. Then comes the problem either of staying with that, or letting the world drop off, or return with that boon and try to hold onto it as you move back into your social world again.
And become a writer. That IS not an easy thing to do. Marvelous book filled with journeys, quests and timeless lessons from many of the world's cultures and myths.
May 05, Katerina rated it it was ok. Apparently everyone loves this book, which shocks me. I found a lot of his references very interesting but I really despised a lot of the author's commentary on them as well as the hundreds of times the author contradicts himself. Yes, he did come up with some pretty deep conclusions, but at other times I found his ideas to be so infuriatingly ridiculous that I, in fact, threw the book at the car window at one point when I read a particularly infuriating nugget of absurdity I believe it was s Apparently everyone loves this book, which shocks me.
Yes, he did come up with some pretty deep conclusions, but at other times I found his ideas to be so infuriatingly ridiculous that I, in fact, threw the book at the car window at one point when I read a particularly infuriating nugget of absurdity I believe it was something about how people really shouldn't be punished for crimes during times of war. Overall I found it to be very preachy. Jul 04, Graeme Rodaughan rated it it was amazing Shelves: The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come.
At the darkest moment comes the light.
This is a very accessible and enjoyable book that presents a concise summary of the core ideas distilled from a lifetime of scholarly effort in the worldwide stu "One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. This is a very accessible and enjoyable book that presents a concise summary of the core ideas distilled from a lifetime of scholarly effort in the worldwide study of myth by Joseph Campbell.
Strongly recommend this book to anyone with a curious mind. Oct 17, Parvathy rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Myths are often stories that explain how the world and human kind came to be in their present form.
I have always been inexplicable drawn to these stories and often felt that they have a quality beyond what they seem to be. The undeniable pull of myths have in the human psyche and the society that surrounds them are often met with scrutiny and criticism. When you say that you are interested in mythology the question naturally comes as to why this particular subject is of interest? What role does Myths are often stories that explain how the world and human kind came to be in their present form.
What role does myth have to play in our modern world? Why is it important?. Whenever questions like this were directed at me I was often placed in a situation where I know what drives me towards myth but was at loss when it came to explaining this same driving factor. But that was until I read this book which gave me valuable insights in to the world of myth and urged me to consider those dimension of mythical aspects which I was completely ignorant off.
Consisting of nine chapters that explain the importance of myth in various aspects, it deals with the universality and evolution of myths in the history of the human race and the place of myths in modern society. The first chapter is on myth and modern world which tries to explain myth as an integral part of the society and the transition required in the myths to make it more adaptable to present day world.
He talks about reasons for forgoing old mythological motifs and using them to create new global mythologies that is more acceptable to the modern psyche.
The role of rituals in the modern society starting from the court room procedures to the gang initiations of adolescents is emphasized to such an extent that they can be viewed as functions to give individuals a sense of belonging to a larger social group.
Then the discussion moves to the concept of marriage. True marriage, in Campbell's opinion, embodies a spiritual identity and invokes the image of an incarnate God. The main intention of marriage is to identify ones other self and thereby become whole. The analysis of the national symbol of united states "The Great Seal" is used by Campbell to illustrate the ability for myths to incorporate the beliefs of a whole society and to provide the mythology to unify a nation.
He ends this discussion with the possibility of the emergence a new myth which is centered around mother earth or Gaea.
The Power of Myth
The second chapter takes about the Journey inward to ones spiritual self and how myths help you achieve this end. Then comes the story of the first storytellers, the animal self, the cycle of life and death, the center of the world and rituals associated with these concepts in various part of the world.
The next chapter explains the shift of the society towards an agricultural society and the change in myth motifs according to these changing perspectives. The following chapters talks about a hero's journey which contains some of the major aspects pointed out in Campbell's previous books, the change of society from a goddess centric female dominated society into a male dominated society and their reemergence in the 12th and 13th century, tales of love and marriage and masks of eternity that identifies with infinity and the power of circle as a symbol.
Needless to say this book contains a wealth of information that changes your perspective of the human spirit and its capabilities. There are only very few books that can transform your entire thought process and "The Power of Myth" is definitely such a book for me.
Apr 27, Arun Divakar rated it it was amazing Shelves: In my part of the world, the gods live everywhere. Such beliefs according to them keeps mishaps at bay. This little book is a flashlight that helped me walk a good mile down this confusing road of myth,lies,half baked ideas and somewhere around the corner There is no contention in my mind to the degree of erudition that Joseph Campbell would have been a master of.
He speaks from a wide variety of sources to bring before the reader a very valid point: There is a common thread of Mythology at play across the world. I have at times even with my limited reading felt that all the tales ever told are part of one grand tale.
As a reader, I found the structure of this book to be a very calming one. The reason is pretty straight forward for the interviewer and the scholar are very much at ease with one another and that amicable feel flowed into me as well. You only need to look at a few passages to know what a first rate grasp he has on world mythology, philosophy, psychology, history among other topics.
There is a brief mention of what a student in Campbell's class once said that the reading assignments alone that he gave would make a student stagger under its sheer volume. I knew I would love this book after I read the first few pages of it. It's the kind of book to be re-read every once in a while. After that re-reading I might be tempted to dig up the myths that Campbell talks about and devour them all For as Campbell says: Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of human life.
Jan 22, Sean rated it really liked it Shelves: Campbell, the late professor of Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence University, wrote on ideas touching upon every facet of life and his ideas have inspired all types of artistic and creative expression.
It would be impossible to write about every idea that Campbell discusses in this book but it suffices to say that his work touches upon many profound aspects of what it "The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers is one of the most amazing books you will ever read or experience. It would be impossible to write about every idea that Campbell discusses in this book but it suffices to say that his work touches upon many profound aspects of what it means to be alive.
The book is actually the transcript of a famous PBS television special with journalist Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell where they discuss what is mythology and what role does it have in modern life. It was one of the most highly rated programs of the 's and has continued to stimulate discussion. There are eight chapters, each which discuss a plethora of topics. For example, Chapter 1 examines the role of myth in modern life, Chapter 3 discusses the concept of sacrifice and bliss, Chapter 5 perhaps the most interesting chapter looks at the hero and heroic myth, and Chapter 7 discusses love and marriage.
He discusses a wide range of ideas and symbols One of Campbell's deepest ideas is the concept that mythology makes up the ideas of being alive, the business of living.
Mythology is the stuff that makes up our interactions with each other and society at large. It transcends religion and society towards something deeper and higher, that great mystery. Mythology and mythological concepts are a reflection of our internal landscape- our human psyche. The commonality between all mythologies is a reflection of the fact that mythology reflects our human experiences, of being born, growing, and dying.
It speaks not to tradition but to experiences and to the experience of living which is at once suffering and bliss. One of my favorite quotes is from when he is describing the challenge of modern life as reflected in the film series "Star Wars," which was one of his favorite examples of modern, contemporary myth. He writes "Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes?
How to you relate to a system so that you are not compulsively serving it? The thing to do with learn to live your period of history as a human being. Campbell is probably the first instance I've seen of someone who is spiritual as opposed to religious.
He had a profound sense of himself and his relationship to the world. This book seems to be an excellent synthesis of his ideas and you get a real sense of his beliefs and influences. It also has given me many, many different places to look for new ideas and inspiration. At times, I wonder if it might be better to read the illustrated version of this book as opposed to this non-illustrated version. But given this books ideas, it should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be human.
Though a bit rambling at times, The Power of Myth is a great introductory text on archetypes found within all world mythologies from almost every time period. Campbell explains why the underlying stories are the same from all over the world and what they mean in both cultural, personal, and world contexts.
He breaks down some of the major archetypes like the sacrificed god and resurrection, virgin births, goddesses, trees, snakes, and more. As someone who has studied tarot and The Tree of Life ex Though a bit rambling at times, The Power of Myth is a great introductory text on archetypes found within all world mythologies from almost every time period.
As someone who has studied tarot and The Tree of Life extensively, I found it to be an illumination. I particularly liked learning about the mythology of Star Wars. With the release of the new film, that particular series is back in the top of the pop culture charts. I think that The Power of Myth explains why it has such enduring appeal. If you liked The Power of Myth , you may want to pick up Artemis: It is another examination of mythology from a feminist perspective.
If you immerse yourself in enough of the stories, you will pick up on the reoccurring patterns yourself. I believe that one of the many purposes of mythology, beyond its entertainment value, is to teach us about what we have in common with each other, and also, the hidden dimensions of ourselves.
Mythology helps you do that. Aug 24, Paula Cappa rated it it was amazing. This book is full of wisdom.
I read it slowly, kept it on my night table and read a page or two a night. Of course, Joseph Campbell is brilliant. I ended up underlining because so much is profound and so much goes deep into not only the world we live in but the personal soul. He talks a lot about going inward and finding your own harmony. The Great Silence!
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