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Reply To: THERE and BACK AGAIN,” with MythBlast author Stephen Gerringer”


Returning our focus to the world outside oneself, here is another take on “community” from Joseph Campbell:

The community today is the planet, not the bounded nation; hence the patterns of projected aggression which formerly served to co-ordinate the in-group now can only break it into factions. The national idea, with the flag as totem, is today an aggrandizer of the nursery ego, not the annihilator of an infantile situation.” (The Hero with a Thousand Faces)

“[A]ll popular thinking is in term of loyalties to the local communities to which all, severally, are members; and such thinking is now out of date. What we face is a challenge to recognize one community on this earth, and what we find in the face of this challenge is everybody pulling back into his own in-group. I don’t want to name the in-groups, but we all know pretty well what they are.”

(Joseph Campbell, audio interview with E. Bouratinos for The Man and Myth Project, 1985)

The hero’s journey is complete when we bring a boon back and share it with the community – but, as Campbell points out, there are no more bounded horizons.

[E]very culture mythology up to date has grown up within a certain horizon, a horizon of common experience which the members of that culture have all shared. And you go to another horizon you have other experiences, and the mythology will have a different complexion, a different quality altogether. Now the horizon is the planet. I mean that, not even that is the horizon. . . .

And the new thing that is very difficult  for people to realize is our society is the human race. And our little suburb is the globe.

Spaceship earth.”

(“Joseph Campbell Talks with Studs Terkel,” January 31, 1973, WFMT Chicago)

Who is it we are questing for? Looks like the whole wide world – which seems like one hell of an ask. Nevertheless, the accent remains on the individual journey.

It has to be found first in private life. I would say that whatever is about to occur in the way of
transformation of consciousness will have had to have occurred, first, in the hearts of individual human
beings, who will then have had—as a result of their very presence—an influence in the larger
community. . .

I think that in one’s political action and influences, if one can think of oneself as part of a world community without betraying the legitimate interests of one’s local neighborhood, one would be helping the world forward.”

(Joseph Campbell, audio interview with E. Bouratinos for The Man and Myth Project, 1985)