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Reply To: Understanding Campbell


Stephen Gerringer wrote:
Happy Day, Drewie, Back in the middle of January you wrote

… as far as where Campbell is coming from you got me covered Stephen but there are more questions on the subject (would be weird if they weren’t) but I will leave it at that now and come back later and see if I can think of anything else.

I’m curious if anything else has come to mind? As you note, the sheer volume of Campbell’s work can make it difficult to connect the dots. In some instances, his material becomes a Rorschach inkblot of sorts – many people see different things, depending on what they have been exposed to, which can lead to confusion and misunderstanding (such as critics who think “follow your bliss” is a license for hedonism, or New Age adherents who take is as a form of wishcraft). Hence a thread entitled “Understanding Campbell” remains a great idea. I am curious – how did your first encounter Joe’s work?

I first learned about Campbell after I had watched Star Wars  of course. I think I was 13-14 years old. It had such a huge impact on me that I had to learn why. One thing lead to another and then POM came up. I was hooked.  I didn’t start reading Campbell at that age, that came later like when I was 25. Campbell lead to myths and Jung and other philosophers. So yeah long story made short I guess. 🙂

But its not only that, I think the ideas Campbell talks about have to do a lot with experience and altering your point of view. His philosophy is very artistic you either get it or you don’t until you do. Some of the stuff he talks about I am just beginning to understand and I have been reading him and studying myths for 15 years. I remember reading, I think in pathways to bliss, about a conversation he had with a “cocky” student of his trying to explain that we shouldn’t live our life too soon by listening to gurus too much and that wisdom has to come gradually. When you are young you don’t get it. Its only after you fall a few times you start getting it.

Some extra thoughts on the affirmation of life.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: That’s it. And when people say to me, you know, do you have optimism about the world, you know, how terrible it is, I said, yes, just say, “It’s great!” Just the way it is.

You know sometimes now that I am a bit older, I kinda get it. I see it in my life. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I didn’t struggle, if I didn’t fail or made mistakes. That’s the reality, that’s the affirmation. Reminds me something Kurt Vonnegut said.

“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news and what the bad news is.”

Stephen I am pretty sure I’ll find some more stuff to ask but right now as I was writing I noticed I repeated myself from the old replies so I need to read the thread again and see what stuff we haven’t talked about.

PS. Jeb you make a nice point. I was actually thinking of making a whole thread devoted to the Grail myth and quest and try to get a better understanding of it. Maybe sometime later this week.