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Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Our Lives

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Myths, explains filmmaker and author Phil Cousineau in, are stories that belong to the “once and the future” because they evoke “the timeless concerns of human beings–birth, death, time, good, and evil, creativity and destruction.” In his excellent Once and Future Myths, the author of The Art of Pilgrimage shows readers how mythology continues to affect and shape contemporary life. Myths are also forces to be reckoned with. Unless we become aware of the myths unfolding in our personal lives, “we run the risk of being controlled by them,” he warns.

As his mentor Joseph Campbell once did, Cousineau often draws from pop culture to help readers understand modern myths and how they influence us. In a chapter entitled “The Myth of the Creative Struggle,” he shows how Frank Sinatra mythologized urban life by “making our loneliness and our struggle seem sacred, and triumph possible.” Yet Cousineau is most profound when he casts a mythic eye toward his own simple life. In a tender passage about taking his son to the ballpark, he gives words to the irresistible appeal and mythology of sports. Whether you are a writer grappling with understanding the subtext of life, a seeker who yearns to know your soul’s true story, or are simply a fan of all things mythic, this is a highly recommend resource and a delight to read. –Gail Hudson