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Reply To: The Way of Art and Two-Way Roads” with Mythologist Craig Deininger”


    A warm greeting Craig; so glad to be enjoying this wonderful conversation you’ve been having and I would like to add my enthusiastic emphasis on the word: “numinous”; since it bridges the gap between both the religious and more importantly the spiritual dimension of the great mystery that often gets confused that Joseph so articulately separates when discussing terms like: transcendent and experience in reference to meaning. Zimmer’s distinctions; which were brought up earlier; capture this understanding in a way westerners often encounter difficulty with because in western theology and religion there is no context for them to relate to as in Joseph’s description of the “symbol without meaning” or (isness); if you prefer. And to a Judeo/Christian or Muslim often the idea of “you” being the God who defines that experience in terms of: “the ground of one’s own being”; symbolizes blasphemy or heresy as opposed to oneness or as Joseph again might describe as: “the light inside the bulb” that returns to it’s source in terms of a larger universe in which it is enclosed. These concepts are totally alien just as the Buddha’s symbol of a single flower being held up as the wordless sermon delivered as this metaphor.

    I want to add one other idea that Joseph emphasized that often gets lost when referring back to him in particular that has to do with his connection to Jungian ideas which I will quote that I used in a separate conversation I had about this misconception of him being a Jungian and will place below:


    Joseph’s conversations with Michael Toms in: “An Open Life” brought up an interesting thing that always grabs my attention in a powerful way when I think about the relationship between Jung’s ideas and how people mistake Joseph for a Jungian which he defiantly refuses. I thought you might have some thoughts about this since you are so familiar with his work and it deals specifically with how one should approach their own myth they are constructing.

    On page 123 the conversation states:

    “Jungian psychology seems to be more open than other more traditional forms of interpretation.”

    “You know for some people, “Jungian” is a nasty word, and it has been flung at me by certain reviewers as though to say, “Don’t bother with Joe Campbell; he’s a Jungian. ” I’m not a Jungian! As far as interpreting myths, Jung gives me the best clues I’ve got. But I’m much more interested in diffusion and relationships historically than Jung was, so that the Jungians view me as a kind of questionable person. I don’t use those formula words very often in my interpretation of myths, but Jung gives me the background from which to let the myth talk to me.

    If I do have a guru of that sort, it would be Zimmer—the one who really gave me the courage to interpret myths out of what I knew of their common symbols. There is always a risk there, but it’s the risk of your own adventure instead of just gluing yourself to what someone else has found.”

    I think this is a huge statement because to me he is saying: (You) are the God that is creating your own life; and you are the one deciding what your myth is to be not someone else. This is the left hand path Joseph talks about that informs the modern hero archetype the individual must listen to in traversing out of and beyond their ropes in order to find and know who and what they are to become. They are not only flying blind making their path up as they go; but they are not obeying any kind of set rulebook on how this is done.

    And I will also like to add a short clip of Joseph describing this distinction in another more succinct way that may better illustrate my point about the individual interpretation of their own experience here.

    I hope you’ll forgive my rather clumsy descriptions on this topic for I am certainly no authority on this subject; and again; so glad to have you here among us on these forums and look forward to hearing more on this wonderful discussion!