Shopping Cart

No products in the cart.

“Ecstasy of Being”

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Author
  • #72789

    Just received The Ecstasy of Being the other day. Am absolutely delighted!
    Did not know these writings existed!
    Many thank yous to Nancy Allison for her part in this!
    At 17 to 20 I would have walked deep into the “forest of this adventure.”
    Just seeing glimpses of Joe Campbell’s reference to dance and his wife Jean in Reflections of Living was more than tantalizing, especially thinking of my own experiences and bliss in the Land of Dance.
    I’ve approached the book so far in a more “Percival” manner…just opening pages and seeing what calls out to me.
    Mentioned this in another post…even a moment of syncretism having recently participated in a zoom celebration of George Harrison for his posthumous Birthday. But that would always bring up the Beatles and Eastern connection, Transcendental Meditation and also the musical instruments such as tamboura and sitar.
    So by happenstance open to a page with the painting of Krishna and Radha.
    And later Siva or Shiva-Lord of the Dance-remember my mind being blown when Campbell referenced the symbolism of this figure. As a young dancer was fascinated.
    I found myself just opening to various passages and reading those pages called into the middle of the forest to see if wonders or questions or other revelations of Joe Campbell and Jean might come to light. I am not disappointed, though intend to give the book a good “proper,” as the Brits might say, reading from front to back as well.
    I love seeing the photographs of Jean in motion and energetic stillness and it is delightful to see Joe’s reverence and lauding of his “goddess” glanced in the further chapters!
    One cannot help but feel with Joseph Campbell’s opinions about ballet and some other expressions of dance, that he shows a very natural prejudice in love, admiration and inspiration of Jean and her chosen calling in the Art of dance!
    It’s sort of endearing really…
    Many of us dancers know all the real stories and pains and legends within the world of ballet more than just the “aesthetic rendering” Joe reads into it.
    But can readily forgive him for that. He was drawn or called beyond by his Muse Jean.
    Looking back at a post about Erdman covered over a period of years, I am impressed how both Jean and Joe collaborated in the worlds of Myth and Dance and inspiring each other. I love that!
    When I started delving into this book, I realized to my wonder, that Joe was changing his perspective or at least changing it on some points and ideas—most notably symbology related to woman or women in modern times.
    I credit Jean for this in large part too.
    Never had any issues with Campbell’s approach to the feminine or divine feminine or that energy—-even as a woman myself—-always understood the metaphor of “woman as life.”
    However in changing or “rapidly” changing times, “woman in action,” or what was sometimes “cliched’” as the “field of action of the male”–has become a Vital Expression of every woman “adventurer.”
    I had read some place earlier in which Campbell had lamented about how it was hard for any individual to find a place
    with such rapid changes. And in the past Campbell made references to Amazons to show Woman in Action…but for some that seemed like a “skim.”
    But remembered how Campbell had covered goddess as teacher and initiator, i.e. the warrior goddesses such as Athena.
    Even showed how Caesar had equated a Celtic Goddess, Brigid? With Minerva.
    Though that particular Goddess was balanced in pairs of opposites being symbolic of Healing not just Warrior/teacher.
    So in Ecstasy of Being, Campbell is finally searching (and again I have a sneaky feeling, Jean inspired and influenced him) for a New Reference and Call of Adventure related to Women…not just as Mother or Wise Woman or Amazon or even a journey based on “seeking union,” with a partner but as an Individual seeking her own expression and creating Her Own Symbols.
    To me that felt as though Campbell was here today and had just written this book!
    What so often frustrates me is hearing or reading those who had briefly dived into Campbell, then immediately “assumed” all his myth searching was coming from a Chauvinist view.
    I disagree, but now seeing his passage re-relating to the woman’s need as well into a call of action rather than “just being”-was an Aha Moment!
    It showed that Campbell was trying to stretch, change and move with the times.
    Now for some, his language of the “feminine mind” and so forth might still elicit the raise of a womanly brow. Grin.
    I accredit this to the times and language, which must have surrounded Campbell as he grew up.
    Those forms of expression are not so easily changed—yet thinking of what both he and Jean lived through right up to the Moon Landing and beyond and continuing to face the rapidly changing world? That is remarkable!
    In fact, knowing the adventures they shared early-on—-it seems as though they beat the beatniks to their time as well!
    To just imagine all the creation Jean experienced and her call to adventure and some of this is happening in the 1930s? My God! It is wonderful!
    But I did have a good natured laugh seeing Joe express Woman’s journey as an individual or saying the Warrior Goddess would be a great rep today.
    Now of course everything is Infinitely more complicated and there are bounds of etiquette which have become required vehicles for our communication with others in respect and kindness. But that is a whole other subject.
    But to see the individual and dual calls of adventure and experience for Jean and Joe is absolutely lovely!
    I must see a video of Jean in her field of Action.
    My only wonder was whether either Jean or Joe had mentioned or witnessed the dancers of Alvin Ailey who also incorporate Graham and Horton styles in their movements…but also the “spirituals?”
    Seeing those dancers in performance has moved me to tears and my guess is that Jean Erdman had a similar but unique command of energy and stage presence! For others have commented upon Jean’s dancing moving them to tears as well!
    My interest related to Ailey is that Ailey and Judith Jamison were not merely having dancers showcase traditional cultural roots going back overseas, but like Martha Graham and Jean Erdman were incorporating all those journeys up to modern times and using elements of Graham as well to do that! Using the space and form of expression.
    The only difference is many of the ballet lines and movements remain, but to me rather than creating an intricate painting and story in the manner of a Balanchine through technique and spatial movement, the expression of the Ailey dancers is rooted right down into the bones! The Ailey dancers are raw passion rising unexpectedly like doves from the river of the soul-which goes back to all that “bird symbology” expressed in a recent “Myth Blast.”
    Or fire…the whole body is the heart and soul of the movement regardless of outward form. Very beautiful and transcendent. The audience is moved with the journey of movement and expression very much like Jean!
    Now, as we all remain in situ, or search for our Thoreau moments know I will continue to enjoy the discovery of The Ecstasy of Being!


    I love your enthusiasm, sunbug!

    You are so right that many critics tend to dismiss Joseph Campbell based on a superficial reading. I find reading Campbell in many ways is like peeling an onion – layer upon layer upon layer. The Power of Myth is a wonderful place to start, but that really is just a beginning: there is so much more to his work – more nuance, more treasures – for those willing to explore.

    I am so glad The Ecstasy of Being speaks directly to your own experience and understanding of Dance.


    Briefly pasting links.
    Am very happy to have seen some clips of Jean Erdman in action.
    Her control in motion is sublime and nowhere near as easy as she makes it look!

    Modern still requires technique form even if expressed differently from ballet. There is still the necessity of “carriage” just as in ballet in order to perform movements in precision.
    And both require a strong center for expression as well as to prevent injury of the dancer. But agree there is a sense of more freedom and less bounds in spatial movement and interpretation.

    im including a link below a clip of excerpts of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

    Was lucky enough to see them perform in Greenville, SC at the Greenville Peace Center years ago.

    Need to amend my earlier post.

    Ailey’s works are referenced as “ballets.” And watching this clip—-have to admit there is a lot of ballet in it but also an overlap. The Wings of Revelations remind me of Graham and Wade in the Water releases more into a freedom of movement and celebration.

    Will post another clip but have to copy first.



    Desmond Richardson former principal dancer of Alvin Ailey and then his own dance company.



    “courtship song” Robert Mirabal

    am posting this because of the native dancer Rulan Tangen, who is doing a beautiful modern to express a woman by the river. Think this crosses over in a way Jean and Joe would love combining storytelling, tradition, music/instruments and dance—using modern as well as traditional.
    plus in my opinion crosses regionality into universality. 🙂


    Thank you, sunbug, for posting these clips.

    In the thread  with Nancy Allison discussing Jean Erman’s dance art in our Campbell in Culture forum, I posted the announcement of a talk by Nancy Allison, hosted by the National Arts Club (which honored Joseph Campbell with their Gold Medal for Literature in his 80th year) on March 29, entitled Location and Sensation, which included four brief films by Nancy (one of which was a staging of “Hamadryad,” a Jean Erdman dance she taught to Nancy, in a nature setting).

    I attended the online event, which enhanced my appreciation of how adding film to dance creates a novel art form (which reminded me of how Jean’s innovation of adding the spoken word to dance brought to life something new). Fortunately, the NAC later posted the talk (which includes the films) to YouTube. I shared the link in the Jean Erdman thread, but thought you might not have reason to visit that conversation of late, so wanted to post it here as well, for your viewing pleasure.



    Hi Sunbug,

    I enjoyed your expressions above. I love everything you wrote above and thank you for all the clips. Another thing I would like to acknowledge that we perhaps share is your mention of Transcendental Meditation–my parents were TM’ers and introduced me to it when I was in my early teens and I still do TM (though for a while I did get away from it but so glad I took it up regularly again!)–wondering if TM might make a good topic thread–or maybe it would fit better within an Eastern thread–maybe along with some George Harrison 🙂  –??? and maybe Eastern dance?


    Thanks for the video with Nancy Allison from the National Arts Club and the links, Stephen. It is wonderful to hear that Campbell received an award from the National Arts Club.


    Thank you for posting this Sunbug–the Courtship dance is beautiful, and I especially like it when one can notice that she is lifting/splashing up the water from the river onto herself and then hearing a sound like that of a crane or loon calling and she lifts her arms to the sky–how that uplifts her too. The flute is so beautiful.

    ~ Marianne


    Hi SUnbug,

    Thank you for posting this video also. I really enjoyed this one too. What caught my attention in this one was how much the clothing was just as much a part of the movement as the dance moves themselves. In many dance costumes it is noticeable to me that the dress/costume expresses something about the dance or the story of the dance behind the visuals; whereas here the clothing in so many places seems more of an immediate sense of the dance itself as if not just a characteristic of the dancer (or say character in a ballet, etc.) but part of the actual soul or spirit of the dancer. The way he positioned his feet also struck me as unique in certain steps where he put his foot into the air and bent back his toes so as to make the foot appear to have a regular “step” walking in air rather than a pointed toe step. I really liked that.

    ~ Marianne


    Thank you, Sunbug, for the “Revelations” dance post–it is exhilarating.






    Glad you enjoyed the clips…

    Seeing hearing Robert Mirabal both on tv and in person was a transcendent experience in itself. Thanks to PBS was made aware of this Native Troubadour! His flute is beautiful!
    Yes you are right on the details! Rulan splashing the water from the stream onto her face while listening to the flute from the forest…and I always imagined when her arms were circled she was carrying a basket to the riverbank.
    And again on Desmond Richardson excellent description of how his attire becomes the soul of the dance so he is showing through raw and not costumed as a character…I relate to costumes on a different level but alas sewing not one of my talents but my Mother (artist and astronomer) also designed and sewed my various costumes for my different styles of tap dances. So definitely good memories there!
    Ahh the flexed foot does indeed make some of the moves much more naturalistic especially when he is behind the desk and kicks up his leg then walks heel toe or I may need to watch the sequence again.
    The way a dancer holds his or her foot is very important related to dance itself
    Both the pointed foot and the flexed (toes back) can be very beautiful and symmetrical depending on the call of the dance or choreography.

    Though both artistic applications of foot position can serve another purpose especially when working with young students. When a student has not had as much ballet training in his or her dance I’ve had to gently admonish (the dangle foot) while complimenting their hard work in other areas. it’s easy to do the dangle foot when a student is moving/learning Concentrating on one step to the next but transitions are very important (sorry sure I’m talking to the choir with you! 🙂

    So long and short of that is the constant reminder of pointing the feet until it becomes 2nd nature BUT I also say the flexed foot is nice too—-just depends on choreography.

    As for the Nutcracker I have other stories from that time some which are the equivalent of making a sad song better. Memories of tears and smiles in the Winter of the Year (losing someone who was the heart of our nutcracker to fate and how a young 15 year old Italian/American  boy—-saved our Nutcracker by stepping into another’s dance boots)


    I will have to give the Nod to you Marianne on TM! My knowledge is more vicarious through my love of the Beatles and their music and through hearing various talks at the NY/NJ Metro Fest for Beatles Fans.

    There was a man, Paul Saltzman, who came to the Fest in different years.
    He had gone to rishikesh to mend a broken heart and was there the same time as the Beatles. And he took photos of them and they were all very nice to him. He has beautiful stories from those times as well as beautiful photos.

    So he talked a little about TM…and how much the meditation made a huge difference in his life.
    He recently put out a video of his time there…I’m not sure if there is still a stream cost. Hoping eventually there will be a DVD.

    And others have spoken at B’fest about TM or meeting the Marahishi.
    So to be fair I’ve certainly not done as deep a dive as you Marianne! Considering your parents too!

    That is awesome!

    I have meditated—more nature awareness based—-occasionally in the past have done a breathing mantra and yes I did notice a more tingly peaceful feeling.
    For me seeing the green of trees or the suddenness of a deer or other animal before me resonates in my soul.
    Sometimes I play my Native flute and enjoy that too.
    But am thinking we all could use meditation now! Amen Marianne!



    Marianne on the TM thread…do think it is a great idea! I might leave that to you and or Steve to initiate as you have the greater knowledge in this area!
    Though I might pose the question “What if Joe Campbell had tried meditation? And how might that influence his writing? It seems he was happy being in the center of his bliss point. Would he be willing for that experience or prefer leaving it to others in their field.
    Well I better stop as this may fit your thread suggestion before confusing the train of thought on my thread! On dance!


    Meditation in general would be a wonderful topic, though in some other category than the Joseph Campbell’s Works forum, and transcendental meditation, aka TM (which comes to us courtesy of Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi) would certainly be among the many types of meditation discussed.

    You could start a stand-alone topic on TM as well, which is one of the most popular forms of meditation, but also a $3.5 billion global business (Deepak Chopra, chief spokesperson for the TM movement in the 1980s, began his solo, independent career in the wake of a power struggle in 1993 with Mahesh Yogi, who was concerned about competing practitioners undercutting the fees charged for TM), which creates an intriguing tension: separating the personal psychological and/or spiritual benefits of the practice from the dollar-driven business that grew up around it is probably not difficult for those who practice TM, but a bit murkier for those outside the movement.


    That’s a great idea Stephen!
    Still feel Marianne has a bit more background in this! Especially as her parents introduced TM to her!
    Check out what Stephen says above this post Marianne:-)

    Of course yes definitely have to be in a different thread than Joe Campbell’s works!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • The forum ‘The Works of Joseph Campbell’ is closed to new topics and replies.