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Reply To: Things Joseph Campbell Never Said


5. “Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody  with a lot of questions. And then being unexpectedly called away before it ends.”

Some places where this appears on the Internet list the source as Creative Mythology (the fourth and final book in The Masks of God tetralogy). Not sure how that happened – hard to imagine any volume where this line would be more out of place! Nor does it sound like something Joseph Campbell could relate to as, after talkies came out, he pretty much gave up going to the movies (apart from serendipitously catching 2001 Space Odyssey on a fluke when it came out in 1968 – which Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke have admitted was influenced by Campbell’s work – and then nothing until invited by George Lucas, sometime after Return of the Jedi was completed in 1983, to view all three films in the initial Star Wars trilogy at once).

JCF has been trying to track the source of this quote since at least 2004. At least with “Love is a friendship set to music,” we were able to determine who actually said it (E. Joseph Cossman), but no such luck here. It’s difficult proving a negative (how do you prove someone never said something?), but after 16 years of combing through Campbell’s published work, audio and video lectures, and multiple interviews, we have found no evidence that supports crediting Joseph Campbell with this humorous observation.