Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

Reply To: Journeys in Silence, with Mythologist John Bucher, Ph.D.

John Bucher

    Stephen, I’m so glad you asked. I was recently talking to David Abram (author of Spell of the Sensuous), who shared a story with me of a time when Campbell was indeed silent in his later years. It seems that David, who was a traveling sleight-of-hand magician throughout much of the 1980s, heard about the Inner Reaches of Outer Space conference happening in the Bay Area one day when he happened to be driving through San Francisco. He immediately swerved his car toward the next exit and made his way to the conference.

    Barbara McLintock happened to be carrying in boxes from her car when David drove up. He asked her if the conference had hired a magician. She looked a bit flummoxed and David proceeded to outline why the conference just couldn’t happen unless a magician was part of it. Barbara was persuaded by his speech and  set up a booth so he could perform in the lobby, just outside the plenary sessions. One morning after Campbell had spoken at the conference, Barbara came rushing into David’s booth. She said she needed him immediately. It turns out that George Lucas had unexpectedly come to the conference, wanting to meet Campbell. She had sat Lucas next to Campbell in the lunch room so the two of them could chat. However, Campbell was not an avid movie goer and completely unfamiliar with Lucas or his work. He sat in silence next to Lucas (who was also known to be a bit on the quiet side) creating an awkward moment for the other person at the table, who happened to be James Hillman.

    David rushed into the room, took out a deck of cards and began to engage Campbell and Lucas in classic misdirection with his cards. Campbell asked Lucas if he had arranged this moment with the magician. Lucas said he was about to ask Campbell the same thing. The ice was broken and the two men began to talk. David and Hillman both faded into the background. Their conversation became so rich that it led to Lucas inviting Campbell out to visit Skywalker Ranch, and the rest is history. I’ve since wondered, what if Campbell’s silence had prevailed and Lucas left the conference without really connecting with him? Campbell may have struggled with silence, as he alludes to in his writing. However, on that day, I am quite glad his lack of discipline prevailed.