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Reply To: Art Institute of Chicago: Reflections on Campbell


“In a series called The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell said to Bill Moyers that we respond to a work of art because the order of the work mirrors the order of our souls.”–Stephen Gerringer quoting Campbell as he spoke to Moyers in Power of Myth

“but all part of an ongoing: ‘carousel of life’”–quote from jamesn

Just a bunch of free-association here…

I think I will be contemplating these two quotes for quite  while today as I celebrate the Chinese New Year today on 2/12/2021! Stephen, when you posted this article there was also a link to another article from the museum about how this year is the Year of the Ox. I then thought of how James wrote how the article you posted reminds us about how much we have all dealt with this past year of Covid and how strong we all had to be which goes along with the strength of the ox and how we have been in it for the long haul. I think the ox is a symbol I will focus on for for a while in light of that quote of Campbell about the soul. The work of art that mirrors the order of our souls, or as art as life and life as art, the work of artful living in life we had to re-order while faced with Covid, and it was so interesting to me how this writer wrote about how she had transferred the habit of not being able to get close to people to how she kept her distance from the person in the painting–but that she then realized she could get closer to the person in the painting than an actual person. At least we have had our arts to interact with–I feel this has “saved” many of us from a more difficult time. I did wish I could go to a museum, I did wish I could hear live music around other people and not just stream it. Family and friends also saved many of us from feeling a desolate wasteland!–and maybe Facebook was actually a blessing in that we could easily connect with people then.

James, when I read your quote in your response it made me think about how carousel horses are all horses but each one on any given carousel is often different or painted differently–as if its own art form even if the same Bastian’s Forms which Campbell mentions in The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and also in The Flight of the Wild Gander, how different are the paintings of various artists of the paintings of our various souls or dreamer’s dreams yet all somewhat alike in some ways. So we are all human and all have our dreams in one way or another which can be very much alike even in their differences or very different even in their similarities. I then think about dream interpretation which feels a lot also like to ordering of the soul through an art form (the art/dream world of Psyche) and how you and I might both dream of a lizard but my dream lizard might not be the same as your dream lizard and how our dreams could both contain some different meanings–and then however that a lizard is often regarded by many shamans as the animal of dreams or symbol of the dreamer. What I really like is how you say the carousel is ongoing. And then I think about too that there are often other animals than horses on the carousel that all go round the circle. These images are strong in my mind this evening. I also like your references to the carousel because horses imply movement–as we all hope to move out of this stressful time of Covid and the isolation it poses. So poses is an art term if someone is posing for a painting. So to pose we have to stay still for a while. In a way with Covid  around us many people expressed feeling somewhat frozen in time. Let’s hope for movement forward and that we get the carousel spinning again because “what goes up must come down” and “ride a painted pony let the spinning wheel ride” -Blood, Sweat, and Tears Spinning Wheel song (it popped into my head the day before yesterday and now again):


P.S. I would also like to mention that a friend of mine, who is now deceased as of December before Covid arrived on the scene, was an artist who painted the carousel horses at Cedar Point Amusement Park when they needed repairs or new paint and also much of her work of “retired” CP horses and other horses are featured at The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky OH