This is a beautiful piece of writing, David, that coalesces so many thoughts on the subject I’ve had over the years, probably because I’ve fielded many of the same “certitudes” about the steps of Hero’s Journey. I can recall so often receiving manuscripts sent to JCF that first-time authors want to share that just feel, well, contrived – as if the author is checking off the boxes (“worked in the meeting-with-the-mentor: now I have to cross that threshold and cue up the brother battle”).
Which is just the opposite of what Campbell intended. He was setting up a procrustean bed into which every plot must fit, but observing what emerges naturally from a tale well told. But Joe’s genius, at lest from my perspective, is in seeing in this motif more than just a narrative device – not ” blueprint of a plot outline; it’s a description of psychological process, one each of us goes through every time we’re challenged and have to change and grow,” as you put it.
Definitely one of the finest explications of the Hero’s Journey I’ve read, David. Have you ever considered becoming an author?
(And right there I looked for my winking face emoticon … turns out this isn’t Facebook)