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Reply To: Understanding Campbell


Stephen thanks for taking the time to answer in such an informative way. Like you said its better to tackle these questions one at a time but its only after your answers I realize that maybe there is a link between these subjects.

So about morality your answer does resolve a lot if not all of my questions about how Campbell understood these subjects.

The distinction between metaphysics and ethics, religion and myth, the Eastern and Western way of thinking. These were the missing links I was looking for and even though I have read most of Campbells books and watched PoM a million times, I still had problem connecting the dots simply because the seer volume of Campbell’s material just makes it difficult, I guess.

This is one of my favorite concepts in this subject.


Sure. That’s what’s tough about it; it’s the essence of the problem. How long can you look at it? How deeply can you see? What can you take? Or are you going to play a little game: ‘Listen to the birds, aren’t they just sweet? Don’t look at the gazelle being eaten by three cheetahs.⁠’

You make your choice. If you want to be a moralist, go ahead. If you want to go love life, do—but know that life is nasty⁠. And it will involve death. Sorrow is part of the world.

I tell you man people often go crazy about this concept of “eat and being eaten” and this is surely like Campbell said a consequence of not having a proper mythology, things have become too soft for us and stuff. I remember when I came to the old forums I was a lot younger and I was really fragile, it required considerable effort to understand this concept. I remember at a certain point I couldn’t even look at “violent movies” you know action movies but gradually it dawn to me what life is.

Now I dont know what I am about to say means but I will say it anyways. I also remember watching a documentary exactly about what Campbell is talking, the gazelle and the predator, and I tell you I havent seen a worst hand dealt in life than what was dealt in these animals. Everything is after them in the field. They cant even give birth or drink water in peace. It’s horrible. And the reason I am saying this, is that for some reason its linked with meaning because it seems to me the only meaning or purpose of their life of these animals is to become food. Now that’s nasty I know but seems true to me.

What always get me though is that even though I realize what life is, it still seems horrible, that nature works in such ways. That’s the difficulty of the problem, right? At one point we need to say yes to it all and see life as metaphysical manifestation and at the same time we need to keep our ability to empathize which makes us emotionally involved and kinda cancels the first experience. I dont know why but I always thought of these experiences as opposite to each other. Complicated paradoxical stuff… At least for our rational mind.

Anyways.. 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.

Edit: By the way I know I said in my first post that I am interested in some objective answers on how Campbell understands these subjects but I like to hear personal opinions too on the subjects so if anyone wants to contribute to this conversation please do so.