August 25, 2021 at 9:47 pm #72403
Joseph Campbell, sharing his thoughts on the art of writing with Bill Moyers
Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what have been called the Muses—or, in biblical language, ‘God.’ This is no fancy, it is a fact. Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So when one hears the seer’s story, one responds, ‘Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn’t able to say.’ There has to be a dialogue, an interaction between the seer and the community.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers)October 3, 2021 at 7:29 pm #72423
Earlier this summer I posed a question to David Kudler; the one of the most knowledgeable of the foundation staff concerning what the relevance might be to an old gnostic text quote Joseph referred to concerning the: “hero/journey/call/quest” template, and how it might translate into today’s interpretive psychological understanding of one’s own personal myth that metaphorically Joseph might be trying to communicate. (Now I bring this particular view or approach into focus because often there are various ways a particular society, culture, or religion offers what a mythic theme represents and how it is to be applied to an individual’s life course; (often with wide differences on how this is to be interpreted and integrated into the meaning and fulfilment of one’s life).
A question was brought up in a discussion group by Shaheda concerning Chris Vogler’s version that is often applied with writers of novels and Hollywood in particular often utilizes within script writing as a go-to model in reference to plot construction.
My problem with Vogler’s particular template is that it is often seen as a concretized construct for the alchemical process that takes place within the individuation process so that all individual stories or personal life experiences have a tendency to be interpreted through this particular lens instead of the wide variation that any persons life-course may take. In other words as Joseph states throughout the various pages of chapters: 4, 5, and 6 of the book David edited: “Pathways to Bliss”; this is a discovery process of one’s own myth by which they are living; and it is definitely not a scripted one that someone might read out of a writing manual for writers. The left hand path as described in the following foundation YouTube clip clarifies this understanding precisely because it is a mystery and not a scripted sequence of events as experienced through a patterned lens. Joseph clarified this misunderstanding by stating that: “following your bliss is not a happy, happy excursion into fantasyland; but more like a transformation by following your blisters and not something preconceived because you don’t know where you are or where you are going. (And yes; I think this aspect is very often critically misunderstood.)
For instance you are not going to have a sequenced “personal crisis” like referred to on page thus and such and therefore you are required to take a hero’s journey to solve your problems in a specified order because each person’s life is so totally and uniquely different. Human beings are not patterned automatons responding to storybook archetypal images. And the point of the quest and it’s call to adventure is to find out “who” you are and what you might become in the living of one’s own life. This is the point about the myth coming out of your own experience when Joseph refers to the point about the learning, discovering, and living out of what your own myth “actually” is; and it is unique to you alone. In other words learning what this thing inside of us is saying!
Nothing wrong with Vogler’s approach concerning story telling; but each individual has their own unique life course; and Joseph’s point about the individual’s ability to respond to whatever life throws at them does not follow a sequence pattern in this regard. Yes; these are elements involved within this alchemical process and the validity of these aspects run true; but in my view as within other Campbell related themes are not to be taken literally but as he so often reminds us as metaphors of the life dynamics we must learn to interprete relating to our own experience. Not the church, not the society, not the culture or the media as a vehicle of it’s value sytems; but what speaks to us from inside.
Here was our brief conversation concerning the gnostic quote; and what it seemed to be saying to me.
Me to David:
There is an old gnostic quote I’m trying to remember that goes something like:
“If you bring forth that which is within you it will save you; but if you deny that which is within you it will destroy you.”
I know this is not the precise version of the quote; but my sense of it is that it may be saying something similar. From your understanding are we talking about: “the other in you; like the shadow; or is it a denied wish or talent that has not been given it’s voice or both; perhaps suppressed from the internal Dragon power that must be faced, assimilated, or integrated as you were just mentioning?”
“And James, thanks for sharing the quote from the Thomas Gospel.
I was curious, so I looked it up:
If you (plur.) produce what is in you, what you have will save you. If you do not have what is in you, what you do not have [will] kill you. — Thomas Gospel, Logion 70
I guess my answer to your question(s) would be… yes. It’s all of those. The point of the Hero’s Journey, from a psychological point of view, seems to be coming up against all of the unintegrated aspects of your own personality and either integrating them into your larger self, or being destroyed by them. Even the negative power has to be integrated before it can be tamed — at least from the Campbellian and Jungian perspective.”
To which I quoted from the following:
In Stephen Larson’s: “The Mythic Image” on page 14:
“But Jung showed that while our (normal) sense of personal identity is forever threatening to dissolve at its deepest boundary into the mythic archetypes of the collective unconscious, once a person has accepted this (essential unreality of one’s own nature), he or she is for the first time in a position to construct an authentic selfhood (individuation, the creative, integrated psyche).
Individuation is to normal as normal is to neurotic, and neurotic is to psychotic. And this hierarchical model of integration-disintegration suggests that it is not the presence or absence of mythic themes in personal psychology that determines sanity, but how the ego relates to these. The cards we have been dealt by fate are a hand from a recognizable deck, which like the Tarot, is made up of a finite number of archetypal forms (fools, magicians, priestesses, hanged men, and so forth). Whether one is simply possessed by these recurring archetypes or may learn to relate to them in a creative dialogue would seem to make all the difference. Jung said, “Man must not dissolve into a whirl of warring possibilities and tendencies imposed upon him by the unconscious, but must become the unity that embraces them all.” (C.G. Jung The Practice of Psychotherapy 197.)
Now concerning Jung’s famous line from: “Memories, Dreams, and Reflections” concerning what it means to live with a myth or without one; the point about: “task of tasks” to find out what this thing is I think definitely applies here. And by engaging within this process at one’s deepest and most intimate levels without any preconceptions of what this realization might reveal about who we are and what story we are living I think refers back to Stephen’s above quote:
“Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what have been called the Muses—or, in biblical language, ‘God.’ This is no fancy, it is a fact. Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone. So when one hears the seer’s story, one responds, ‘Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn’t able to say.’ There has to be a dialogue, an interaction between the seer and the community.”
I’m going to stop here and let Shaheda, Stephen, and anyone else respond since this is an open topic relating to one’s individual process of what Joseph’s themes about the hero/call/journey template represents to them.
I would like to add a small addendum concerning Stephen’s topic statement about the writing process which is covered very nicely on pages 268-271 in Diane K. Osbon’s: “Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”. Here Joseph goes into wonderful detail describing his process which should be of great benefit to those seeking insight into how he went about setting up his mindset before engaging his muse.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention a book Stephen recommended to me awhile back that has been a tremendous help in my own approach to writing about my personal myth which is Dennis Patrick Slattery’s: “Riting Myth, Mythic Writing” which I will leave in the above link for purchase from Amazon if interested.October 4, 2021 at 5:27 am #72422
Thank you for your very generous and comprehensive answer to my question, which was about Vogler’s analysis of the Hero’s journey – 17 steps vs. 12. You write, “Nothing wrong with Vogler’s approach concerning story telling; but each individual has their own unique life course; and Joseph’s point about the individual’s ability to respond to whatever life throws at them does not follow a sequence pattern in this regard. Yes; these are elements involved within this alchemical process and the validity of these aspects run true” Yes indeed James. Wonder if you would have time to write all this and a bit more in the comments to Hannah Yang? Her website is Hannahyang.com
Additionally, my complaint was that there are so many new experts on the internet, who are analyzing the various stages of Joe’s Hero’s Journey, but, I find these articles lack accuracy, they distort information, for example, there was one that referred to Joe Campbell, as ‘gender biased’ before proceeding to describe the hero’s journey. And all this while using his scholarship to enhance their particular work. Can JCF do something about it? I agree Policing the internet is not possible even for mega high techs like Google, so yes, Stephen can not police them, but maybe ask these writers for their credentials. They are surely not on JCF website, nor do they contribute to the mythblast. There are at least two articles per day on the topic. People like Vogler, who have benefitted from Joe’s work, should at least contribute to the foundation.
All through his life, Joe edited books, and papers of other scholars for nothing, and I recall reading somewhere that he was finally getting tired of that, although when Marija Gimbutas asked him to write a foreword to her book, he immediately set aside his projects, and wrote a magnificent foreword.
So at least now, we have a foundation and its members standing up for him. Today’s article on the net was by Hannah Yang. Among other things, she cited two criticisms of the hero’s journey a) reduces the world to simple binary choices. Good vs. Evil; Us vs. Other; Victory vs. False etc. She then writes, if all stories followed this layout of the journey, writers would not be able to express a nuanced perspective? Huh? I am not sure what she is trying to say here. b) that it favors male protagonist.
Yes, I have heard a good deal on point b, but not much on Joe Campbell reducing the world to binary choices. Have you, James, Stephen, Sunbug, Rcubed and Mars?
Moreover what irks me are statements such as, (Joseph Campbell is saying just what Freud and Jung said). What about Joe’s original work? — THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF MYTHOLOGY. Neither Jung nor Freud wrote on that.
Well, there’s more reason to be irked but that would mar the reason for writing this, which is how best to address this issue?
ShaahaydaOctober 4, 2021 at 6:05 am #72421
Carrying on with the same theme, that is, people writing about Joe Campbell and the Hero’s journey, with incomplete data. So, Hannah Yang, writes, “he (Campbell) became fascinated with the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. This was crucial to the development of hero’s journey” Firstly, he was rather bored with Freud, and secondly, his work embraced much more than Freud and Jung. Then she writes, that Campbell’s book, The Hero with a thousand faces was adapted for TV as Power of Myth!!! Huh??? Some part of Power of Myth, Chapter 1 is from the hero with a thousand faces, the rest is based on a series of interviews with Moyers.
Here is a link to her essay.
ShaahaydaOctober 4, 2021 at 9:30 am #72420
Hey Shaheda; I’ve added a small addendum to my first post that provides another couple of sources concerning not only Joseph’s writing process; but the development of one’s own which I hope will compliment Stephen’s original topic statement. It would be very easy to get off topic; (especially concerning Vogler as this is an old debate; and there have been many in the past who have disagreed with Joseph’s work as Stephen no doubt can verify).
Second; in answer to your kind request about the websites you linked to I’m going to decline because I’ve pretty much got all I can handle with what I’m doing right now. Saying that; I might add I think you may find no matter how informed you are there are going to be those who neither care about being accurate or are more concerned about driving traffic to their website. Most who are concerned with what his views were have taken the time to do the proper research and realize what enormous scholarship went into what he said and how vast his research behind it was; (that is why the foundation set up this site in the first place and what it is for); and those who are seeking the correct information to make an informed opinion should come here first if they want to dispute it. Everyone of course is entitled to their own thoughts about his work; but go to the source first before claiming to be an authority about his work. I would also be careful with this topic on social media as well given the present climate of misinformation and volatility of toxic discourse.October 4, 2021 at 7:11 pm #72419
No problem at all in declining my request. You are right in saying, “neither care about being accurate or are more concerned about driving traffic to their website.” I am simply unhappy with these new literature majors, who think they can drive traffic to their site by analyzing the hero’s journey. I’ll take this upon myself to query Ms. Hannah Yang, a lit major from Yale.October 4, 2021 at 8:46 pm #72418
Let me suggest something you might want to mull over before deciding how you want to handle this. First; ask yourself why this bothers you so; (yes; I find it a bit irritating as well); but my point being you might be able to turn this into your service by the way you write about it; (hence Stephen’s topic statement); and exploring your process.
Two; you could also invite her over here to discuss these thoughts thereby exposing her to the resources available here. After all these Forums were designed for fleshing out ideas concerning Joseph’s themes and one of the main guidelines states we don’t have to agree on everything; but “all” are welcome here and allowed to express their thoughts in a respectful atmosphere.
Three; she may not be aware of how much of the new material concerning the feminine or “Goddess” themes or principles Joseph wrote about has been released. (There is still a great deal of new material that the Foundation is in the process of publishing. And there are many new developments in store for the future as you can see as you peruse this website.) It should also considered one of the frustrating realities I think that contributes to all of this misinterpretation of what Joseph was about has to do with lack of background concerning his backstory; much less his enormous output of material on a huge variety of topics.
And lastly it should be understood Joseph was defiantly not a Jungian and said so. Joseph addressed this on page 123 in Michael Tom’s: “An Open Life” where he specifically states:
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 diffusion and relationships historically than Jung was; so that the Jungians think of 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’s always a risk there, but it’s the risk of your own personal adventure instead of just gluing yourself to what someone else has found.”
So there are a lot of misconceptions about Joseph and what he was driving at concerning his thoughts on these mythological themes and what he was attempting to convey. What I think might be preferable is sounding out these disagreements in an atmosphere of respectful discussion which is what the Forums were originally designed for before social media came into play. (Have a look at the older retired version of CoaHO as a model for a good window into the past on how this was handled.)
At any rate this is something you might want to consider before going any further; and I don’t think the continued stream of misunderstanding Joseph is going to stop anytime in the near future; (especially concerning the present state of toxic social media discourse).October 5, 2021 at 12:14 am #72417
Thank you for your excellent advice on all fronts. I’ll write the following to her, “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’s always a risk there, but it’s the risk of your own personal adventure instead of just gluing yourself to what someone else has found.”
Also, James, I’ll mention Campbell’s own words, “Historical Development of Mythology” is what I am interested in — Not the various volumes of the Historical Development of Mythology, which too are master pieces. I’ll invite her here. She might really be an asset. I’ll also chat about he gender bias issue. You turned me in the right direction, dear friend.
Shaahayda (grateful)October 5, 2021 at 1:28 am #72416
Let me mention one last thing that for me was pivotal in my participation when I first joined. I was intimidated and extremely self-conscious and very reluctant to engage at first until someone reached out to me and made me feel like I belonged. This goes along way toward establishing a comfortable rapport and opens the door for discourse to happen in a warm and nurturing environment. That doesn’t mean you are suppose to agree on everything; absolutely not. But to not feel threatened and know that your ideas and opinions are respected can be the key that opens the lock to a wider world in which everyone’s opinion has worth and merit. (Btw; the “private message” feature if used properly can be a huge plus in helping to build relationships and untangle misunderstandings that can make one feel more at home.) The guidelines are another important feature as well.October 5, 2021 at 6:33 am #72415
The original topic of the thread focuses on Joseph Campbell’s approach to writing, rather than the hero’s journey (true, the HJ can be a useful aid for fiction writers, but Joe didn’t write fiction – none, at any rate, published in his lifetime), so when James in his comment referenced the hero’s journey in regards to personal myth, I wasn’t sure where he was heading (there is, after all, a wide gulf between the hero’s journey as a writing template, and as a guide to life).
The mention of Chris Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey does bring us back to the topic.
My problem with Vogler’s particular template is that it is often seen as a concretized construct for the alchemical process that takes place within the individuation process so that all individual stories or personal life experiences have a tendency to be interpreted through this particular lens instead of the wide variation that any persons life-course may take.”
That’s a complaint that seems to apply as much or more to Joseph Campbell’s schema of the hero quest first announced in The Hero with a Thousand Faces; it, too, is “often seen as a concretized construct for the alchemical process . . . so that all individual stories or personal life experiences have a tendency to be interpreted through this particular lens instead of the wide variation that any persons life-course may take” (not what Campbell intended, of course, but that is certainly how many see it – not that Campbell, nor Vogler, for that matter, should be blamed for a reader’s misunderstanding)
Vogler’s book, unlike Campbell’s, is first and foremast a guide to creative writing, specifically screenplays. Neither individuation nor alchemy are mentioned, nor is his intended audience those who are trying to improve themselves or seeking the meaning of life. The book is merely about applying mythic structure to the craft of creative writing (though the latest edition now includes a new final chapter, called “Trust the Path,” added for those who wish to discover themselves through the act of writing).
Two summers ago at the annual combined JCF Board and staff meeting, Chris gifted each of us with copies of the latest edition of The Writer’s Journey (which, I trust, addresses Shaahayda’s concerns about Vogler’s relations with JCF. Though he does his own thing, he does not downplay his debt to Joseph Campbell and is generally supportive of JCF’s mission).
Nevertheless, I do share James’ uneasiness in general. Like James, I don’t have any problem with what Vogler writes in his book, and happily recommend it to others. My issue is with the tendency of more than a few writers and directors working in the Hollywood dream factories to take the guidance offered in Vogler’s book as a rigid formula for turning out blockbuster box office gold – a concern Vogler himself warns against in his book. As with George Lucas and others, awareness of the hero’s journey story arc can help one polish and improve a tale, but is no substitute for talent.
Which brings me to Shaahayda’s understandable frustration with Hannah Yang’s summary of the hero’s journey story pattern. Some unforced errors are way off base, such as the claim that The Hero with a Thousand Faces was adapted for television as the Power of Myth (as Shaahayda notes, only one of the six broadcast episodes is focused on hero myths), or listing, among five of “his other major works,” three books by Heinrich Zimmer (Campbell did edit these works, and had much to do with their creation, but ultimately they are major works by Zimmer, not Joe).
At the same time, Yang gets several things right, given her mission and her audience. Keep in mind this is essentially a simplified summary of the hero journey motif designed for a broad audience – sort of a Cliff Notes version – rather than an evaluation of Campbell’s entire body of work.
From that perspective, Yang’s comments about Freud’s and Jung’s influence are on target. Discussing The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell notes in a radio interview “For a while I was equally committed to Freud and Jung as the principal explicators of myth in psychological terms, but during the years the Jungian position has seemed to me to be more and more important.” It wasn’t until well after he finished Hero that he gravitated toward Jung as a guide to life, seeing Freud as more focused on the role myth plays in the psyche of the those with pathological conditions.
Yes, over the course of his lifetime Campbell’s work embraced more than just Freud and Jung, but Hannah Yang isn’t discussing his entire corpus. Her mission is to succinctly summarize the origins of Campbell’s identification of the hero’s journey arc, which is equally indebted to Freud and Jung. In a piece like this, which is basically a brief dictionary or encyclopedia entry, can’t really blame someone for not covering every nuance of the subject (I’m frankly surprised she got as much in as she did).
Similarly, the objections to the hero’s journey Yang shares with readers aren’t her own complaints, but “common criticisms” of the hero’s journey (which any good teacher is obligated to raise). Though one might disagree with these criticisms, Yang isn’t defending them, just sharing them with her audience. What she says is accurate – these are common criticisms, and she would be remiss to leave them out, though the wording is a little awkward (e.g. the statement that Campbell’s work “reduces the world to binary choices” is more often expressed as the claim that Campbell embraces duality – not a valid observation to to my mind, but one that is heard from some, like Robert Segal).
Shaahayda, like you my initial tendency is to want to reach out and enlighten this individual, correct her misunderstandings – but I believe James offers a valuable piece of wisdom when he asks why this bothers you so much. What would it serve to reach out to her and correct her? What would that accomplish? Would she read a brief paragraph from you, slap her forehead with the palm of her hand, and be convinced that her take is in error? Unlikely (heck, most people who post material on the internet for public consumption already know to never read the comments).
I write the responses to the general queries people send in via JCF’s online contact form. Just today, I pulled up a query that landed in my InBox several days ago, which asked us, “Are you related to Joe? What deplorable examples of humanity you are. You know it, and you know why. For everything Joe gave to our human family, you have taken away.”
That must have struck a nerve, because I spent an inordinate amount of time crafting a response detailing JCF’s accomplishments, observing how little of Joe’s work would be available if the Foundation didn’t exist, and so forth and so on. I edited and re-edited it down to a little over 1,100 words. When it was perfect, just as I was about to click Send, I asked myself the question James posed to you” “Why does this bother me?” – and an addendum: “what do I hope to accomplish?”
I’m not going to convert this individual. He is just trolling us, and isn’t going to read my response with an open mind and rue his insensitive words – so, fortunately, I did not send off my missive (though I saved the draft – I should be able to use portions of it elsewhere at some point).
I don’t think it’s necessary to try and convert Ms. Yang either, whether with a detailed erudite post, or by assigning homework (i.e. come to this website and read what’s here so you can learn the proper facts about Campbell). I don’t think such actions would have the effect you’d hope. Not that you shouldn’t express an opinion – such feedback can be important – just don’t be wedded to the results.
If someone misquotes or plagiarizes Joseph Campbell, JCF will certainly correct them. And if there is an egregious misstatement of fact (e.g. Campbell was an anti-Semite, or a misogynist), that could, depending on the platform and who is posting it, require a response But we aren’t going to take issue with everyone who writes about the hero’s journey and expresses a contrary opinion on some points; nor are we going to ask for credentials from anyone who offers a critique, positive or negative, or demand they financially support the Foundation, any more than Joseph Campbell would have been expected to write a check to the C.G. Jung Institute when he analyzed and opined about Jung’s work.
Rather than play whack-a-mole, I find the best approach, at least for JCF, is to do our best to ensure we present Campbell’s core understandings as clearly as possible, to the widest possible audience. That’s part of the reason behind creating our 500-plus quotation database – Joe’s own words. The update of our website will include permanent thought pieces on the hero’s journey, the four functions of myth, and what Campbell means by “follow your bliss” – informative for the general public, while, at the same time, almost in passing, popping some of the most egregious misstatements by citing Campbell’s actual words. That works much better than most direct engagement, which only feeds the controversy.
That said, maybe we can veer back to the subject of Campbell’s thoughts on the creative spark that started this thread . . .October 5, 2021 at 6:56 am #72414
Thank you for this needed clarity Stephen; I always learn so much from your posts when you are able to participate. This brings me to a point I want to address that I hope will clear up any misconception that I may have given about my personal knowledge of Joseph’s work which is I have never considered myself any kind of authority and hope that whatever humble offerings I bring to the table is in some way useful to others. Many mistakes and misconceptions are often given on my part to be sure; but always with the higher good in mind. (Yes; the added refinement from you is most appreciated and always helpful. I know of no one who has given more to these forums than you have and will always look forward to what you have to say.)October 5, 2021 at 7:11 am #72413
Shaahayda, you write
I’ll mention Campbell’s own words, ‘Historical Development of Mythology’ is what I am interested in — Not the various volumes of the Historical Development of Mythology, which too are master pieces.” (I think you mean the Historical Atlas of World Mythology” rather than the “Historical Development of Mythology” in that second sentence.)
I hate to sound contrary (not that I can help it – Mercury is in retrograde), but do keep in mind that Ms. Yang is specifically addressing The Hero with a Thousand Faces. That has a different accent than Campbell’s later work.
Speaking of the difference between The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and, four decades later, The Historical Atlas of World Mythology, Joe explains:
The big organizing principle that I am using is historical and geographical—it’s an atlas. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I was stressing the archetypes; the accent was psychological. Here, I am stressing the differentiations and the distribution of the differentiations.
Hero with a Thousand Faces didn’t focus on the historical development of mythology (the working title, you may recall, was “How to Read a Myth”). Though the quote you borrow from James is correct in terms of the perspective Campbell developed across the whole arc of his life, that historical development of myth isn’t the point of the work Yang is addressing – but if you share that quote, absent context, it comes across as if you are claiming that is indeed the point of The Hero …
If you are going to reach out, I suspect you’d get better traction gently highlighting demonstrable errors she can correct (PoM is not a television adaptation of HWATF; books credited to Heinrich Zimmer are not major works by Campbell, etc.), rather than steer her toward a big picture understanding not directly related to the task she set out to accomplish.October 5, 2021 at 7:37 pm #72412
You are a gentleman and a scholar indeed — A Joseph Campbell Scholar. You explained and analyzed extremely well, and caught my particular blunder, that is, the distinction between the book “The Historical Atlas of World Mythology” and Joe’s personal trajectory, “the historical development of mythology”. I should have known that rather well, because just two or three days ago, you sent in that fine thread, explaining the various segments of the Historical Atlas, why some volumes are never going to be printed, and why printed version is so expensive, and when all parts of Vol 1 and Vol 2 will be available, and most of all what they contain.
So, after listening to James, I did not elaborate upon the things that frustrated me, that is, 1) not acknowledging Joe as the great scholar thinker mythologist historian ++++ but referring to him as simply a writer/editor.
2) Power of Myth not = Hero with a thousand faces
Then I stopped because like you I realized she is analyzing the hero’s journey as a writing aid. It’s the nature of her work. As she writes, “However, the hero’s journey can be a useful tool even if you don’t use it the way Joseph Campbell originally intended. Readers who recognize these classic tropes can appreciate an unexpected twist. Innovative literary fiction often plays with traditional narrative structures in new ways.” She is writing for a different audience. So I did not write anything strong, negative or critical. Actually, I said nice things about her article and hoped to see more on Campbell’s other themes on the internet, although I did invite her over to jcf.org. That is all.
What’s funny is about a few hours after I signed into her website for comments, in came another Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey on the internet. SO, I was not going to play the internet police chief and go about reading through it and signing up on that website for some more comments. Then came your excellent piece detailing and clearing all the clouds. I had an appointment this morning so could not respond to you right away, but here I am.
Thank you Stephen. Always a pleasure reading your posts.
ShahedaOctober 5, 2021 at 9:32 pm #72411
I have spent most of the day thinking about what Stephen has clarified; and indeed the more I thought about it and looked up references the more I realized how true and on point with my personal journey this applies. First off; I am no writer; but yes, I have been trying to learn more on how to write better in expressing my thoughts as a vehicle to better understand my own journey and the personal myth that drives it. Saying that; what has become increasingly more apparent to me is as Stephen has pointed out; the two have become intertwined in the way I viewed this; (which I think others may in some ways also be experiencing themselves which I think may often cloud this issue). So the creative spark and the craft are indeed separate from the writer’s process; but I would think could also be “affected” by the archetypal influences in the way they interpret the experience as they are bringing it forth as a vehicle of consciousness.
(To be clear I am not suggesting the self/archetype as regulator of the entire psyche is not pushing the (ego as hero) to write from a creative spark of inspiration; but definitely could be affected by a separate archetypal influence; (say like in a novel of fiction as opposed to a non-fiction piece). But this would not be concerned with the individual’s life course. (Joseph often refers to esthetic art or aesthetic arrest; (setting a frame around something); as opposed to other types such as commercial art that is used to sell something). But if I’m understanding this correctly; as when Joseph talks about sacred space and bringing forth something that the individual “as artist” is experiencing as a piece of “aesthetic” expression; this distinction of clarity must be understood if it is to be realized as a true symbolic reference that is being conveyed. For instance the use of a metaphor, or the use of a symbol, or an abstract approach can all be experienced as the aesthetic as opposed to say the religious or commercial. “Spiritual” I think would be different; although you could possibly say (divine) I’m assuming; but it would be the experience that the work is attempting to reveal.
I realize this is may be a rather convoluted way of articulating my impressions of Joseph various descriptions throughout both “Pathway’s to Bliss” and Diane Osbon’s: “Reflections on the Art of Living”; as Joseph comes at this topic from different directions when making distinctions about the different categories of artistic expression. One example might be when Art took a big leap in Paris at the end of the 1st World War when he first encountered James Joyce and had to ask Sylvia Beech; owner of Shakespeare and Co. to help him understand Joyce’s work. (So please have patience with my rather clumsy descriptions.)October 5, 2021 at 9:45 pm #72410
Reading some of the comments above, I have the following thoughts. They are simply thoughts and reactions, but nothing I say is ever intended to be set in stone.
Freud, Jung, and Campbell each and all had their special areas not covered by the others, or not covered as much as others.
It seems to me that ever since the post-Dadaism movements, movements in art reflecting the societies in which they live, so much discourse of new “experts” on the internet as Shaheda refers to are more about deconstruction of what went before them, or deconstruction theory. It is the same thing as when a person puts another person up on a pedestal, idolizing them, but at first or certain signs of disappointment that the person/god is not always perfect, later smashes the idol. This deconstruction has been done to Campbell, to Freud, and to Jung, one and all. People do this because this is what the new “experts” are about and learning, it seems, but also because they do not see or know where to further construct and build so the create a new “building” by tearing down the old building. I find it sad that this happens, that we cannot take the great minds for what they are into the following centuries save for those who will see this deconstruction for what it is. I am not saying that all types and ways of deconstruction are bad or negative; just, in this case, that I too find it sad when people do this to Campbell, et. al.
And I respect Campbell, Freud, and Jung each for their special and unique contributions to the world of myth and psychology, as well as their shared interests. Each of them went father in their own primary fields than the others. I felt a need here to speak up for Jung, who I love equally with Campbell.
This is perhaps only a partial response, as I only covered one sub-topic here to which I am interested in responding.
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