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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Campbell’

If you realize what the real problem is — losing yourself, giving yourself to some higher end, or to another — you realize that this itself is the ultimate trial.  When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.
And what all the myths have to deal with is transformation of consciousness of one kind or another.  You have been thinking one way, you now have to think a different way.
  —  Joseph Campbell
From the book:  “The Power of Myth
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On This Day In:
2017 Vain Expectations
2016 Or Of One Thought
2015 What’s In Your Future?
2014 Light In Darkness
2013 How ‘Bout Just Obeying The Law?
2012 Or Maybe Not
2011 My Interval Is Too Short!

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The Power of Myth”  1988©
Today’s review is for “The Power of Myth“, which is a book based on interviews of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers that were the basis for the PBS television series of the same name and the same year.  The book was timed for concurrent release and follows the interview format with editing provided by Betty Sue Flowers.  In fact, the book chapters follow the episode breakdown of the series.
The interviews deal with the universality and evolution of myths in human history and how myths fit (or don’t fit) in the modern day social structure.  Campbell mixes personal experience with stories from many epochs, cultures and civilizations to offer up a thesis that modern society is moving from old mythologies and traditions unique to their times and locations to a new global (and possibly unified) mythology.
Campbell believes myths are the stories / legends / fables which make up their culture.  Campbell believes there are universal “truths” which mankind tries to describe using these myths and this explains why the myths are common around the globe.  To him a “myth” is a way of defining the rituals and oral histories we pass from parents to child.
Because the “myths” of any prior generation were limited by location and technologies of communication, Campbell believes we are in a transition period which is trying to integrate all of the “great” traditions (religions, beliefs and myths) of the past with the rapidly changing technologies of a modern life supported by increasing amounts of technology without concurrent social and moral reinforcement.
Basically, modern culture specifically lacks a social structure to transition males from childhood to adulthood – the traditional “rites of passage”.  Campbell feels this problem is significantly less for females because their rite of passage to adulthood is observationally physical.  On this point, I disagree with Campbell as I don’t believe the completion of puberty is the actual rite of passage from childhood to adulthood except in the most biologically literal sense for males or females.
I found the book fascinating but difficult to read. I find it curious that myths (creation, death, heaven, hell, reincarnation, resurrection and ascension) are common across epochs and continents. I am less convinced that all individuals seek to be “heroes” and to find their “bliss”.  It is my observation that the vast majority of folks (male and female) just want to get on with life and enjoy it (life) and their families with as little hassle as possible.
Final recommendation: highly recommended.  I feel the book is very deep and full of insight – both in word and ideas.  I will be including quotes from it periodically.  My own copy is now high-lighted through large passages of the book. (LOL)
One final note: this book took me almost two years to read, even though, at barely 230 pages, it’s not very long.  This is because it is (was) intellectually challenging (to me) and I felt the need to pause periodically.  The result was start, stop, weeks pass, start, stop, etc.  In the end, I moved on to other books and then (after 90+ pages), when I finally got back to it, I felt I’d lost the train of discussion and started over from the intro.  So, reader be warned…  Well worth your time, but you’ll need to be better disciplined than I am.
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You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you.  This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.  This is a place of creative incubation.  At first you may find that nothing happens there.  But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
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For them [the Plains Indians] the whole world was a sacred place.  But our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended.  You are always doing something that is required of you.  Where is your bliss station?  You have to try to find it.  Get a phonograph and put on the music that you really love, even if it’s corny music that nobody else respects.  Or get the book you like to read.  In your sacred place you get the “thou” feeling of life that these people had for the whole world in which they lived.
   —  Joseph Campbell
From the book:  “The Power Of Myth” (with Bill Moyers)
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On This Day In:
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The Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration for those who don’t understand it.
   —  George Santayana
Every religion is true one way or another.  It is true when understood metaphorically.  But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.
   —   Joseph Campbell
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Myths and dreams come from the same place.  They come from realizations of some kind that have then to find expression in symbolic form.  And the only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not the city not these people, but the planet, and everybody on it.  That’s my main thought for what the future myth is going to be.
  —  Joseph Campbell
From: “The Power Of Myth
Written by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers
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2010 A Non-Zero Sum Game
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…Technology is not going to save us.  Our computers, our tools, out machines are not enough.  We have to rely on our intuition, our true being.
  —  Joseph Campbell
From Bill Moyers’ “Introduction” to their book: “The Power Of Myth
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On This Day In:
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[Two quotes and a poem for Memorial Day 2015.  Please say a prayer of thanks for the sacrifice of those we’ve lost and for their families.  One side note:  the poem was found on one of the blogs I follow and is presented as it appeared there.  In researching the poem, I found there are multiple versions and an “original”.  As a matter of curiosity and for comparison, I am also presenting that version.   —  KMAB]
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
  —  Joseph Campbell
American Writer/Lecturer
Let us never forget the heroes who saw beyond themselves and the families they left behind to pledge and deliver all they had to uphold the liberties we all cherish.
  —  Carolyn W. Colvin
Acting Commissioner
Social Security Administration
A Thousand Winds
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Written by: Mary Elizabeth Frye
[This (above) was the version used by the newspapers for Mrs. Frye’s obituary. — KMAB]
[Found at: http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/
The specific blog post is at: http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/tribute-2/ ]
[Original version:
A Thousand Winds
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am in a thousand winds that blow
I am the softly falling snow
I am the gentle showers of rain
I am the fields of ripening grain
I am in the morning hush
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight
I am the starshine of the night
I am in the flowers that bloom
I am in a quiet room
I am the birds that sing
I am in each lovely thing
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there I do not die
Written by: Mary Elizabeth Frye
End of “original” version]
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2013 Long Range Exploration
2012 UBI
2011 Opportunity

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