MythBlast | The Hearth of Community
In the birth of a new year and in the darkness, and for a lot of us in North America right now, serious cold of winter, I am struck by how people have for thousands of years turned to the warmth of hearth and community as they sought faith that spring would return. We seek connection with one another – to find the proverbial ties that bind us (a proverb that emerges from the earliest Pre-Indo European roots of the word connect, meaning to tie) – as we turn our faces to the firelight. It is our solace, and I think often our inspiration, and strength, and joy as humans wandering, and sometimes stumbling, through our lives.
This sense of connection has been one of the gifts in my life as I’ve followed the beckoning of mythology, finding community who enthusiastically share stories and ideas. And as I think about this, I realize that this sense of weaving together, of tying people and ideas and places and stories together, was a core motivation for Joseph Campbell throughout his life and work. It is arguably his greatest genius.In 1983, Campbell spoke with New York Times Book Review Editor D. J. R. Bruckner, discussing the arc of a long career seeking and unfolding that weave, in a conversation rather appropriately entitled “Joseph Campbell: 70 Years of Making Connections.”
In one thought that captures a sense of how Campbell saw the interlacing of people, place, and ideas, about a moment early in his professional life, he says:
I was five years without a job. I went out to California looking for one and settled down in Carmel, where I met John Steinbeck, who was also broke. That was an important moment for me, especially getting to know his collaborator, Ed Ricketts, who’s the doctor in his novels. Ricketts was an intertidal biologist and I had been interested in biology from my school days. Talking with Ricketts, I realized that between mythology and biology there is a very close association. I think of mythology as a function of biology; it’s a production of the human imagination, which is moved by the energies of the organs of the body operating against each other. These are the same in human beings all over the world and this is the basis for the archetypology of myth.
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