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Reply To: Things Joseph Campbell Never Said


Indeed, Robert.

In fact, that’s a large part of what makes verifying Joseph Campbell quotes so difficult. Most faux quotes are very much in sync with observations Campbell makes, and sound enough like something he said that it’s difficult to rule them out with a cursory search. I find myself looking for a needle that may not exist in literally hundreds of haystacks (books, essays, interviews, and lectures galore). It’s one thing to find a needle in a haystack, but it can be a pain to prove a needle you can’t find never existed.

And the misquotes are almost always accidents rather than malicious misdeeds. Someone loves something Campbell said and quotes a line or two, then adds their own commentary, not making clear the difference between their words and Campbell’s words, and so a mishmash of “Joe and not-Joe” gets re-posted as Campbell’s own words and goes viral. Or someone writes something Campbell said that they loved, but they don’t have the quote in front of them so paraphrase, or misremember, creating something that sounds like it could be Campbell but is something he never said. They mostly mean well.

On the other hand, Michael Lambert recently managed to remove a publication being sold over Amazon that consisted of 100 Campbell “quotes.” Of course, the creators of that publication didn’t have permission to use those quotes – they were just riding Joe’s chi to make a quick buck. What’s more, after an exhaustive search, we found dozens of those “quotes” were seriously inaccurate or completely nonexistent (that’s what we have to do to remove the profiteers).

So thanks for sharing that clip – the message is what’s essential.