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Friday, July 27, 2007

Joseph Campbell I: The Hero's Journey

Joseph Campbell has long been one of my favorite thinkers and authors. Teaching mythology classes at university was so much richer thanks to him, and my students often were thrilled by the comparisons he was well-known for making from culture to culture, looking at, for example, the flood myth in different civilizations over epochs of time, as he did the saviour gods, who of course appear in almost every culture, frequently born of a virgin, whose birth is frequently heralded by special magical, or wise men, frequently known to have performed miraculous deeds, frequently killed, often on a cross or tree, and generally resurrected. (This is a hugely fascinating topic, and I recommend that you view Campbell's six 1-hr DVD set The Power of Myth in order to begin to understand his global and historical vision of mythology).

Campbell wrote many books, and I have referred to him in this blog in the past, and was heavily influenced by Jung, another thinker who has shaped my own Weltanschauung.

While both men have died, their legacy is rich and I rarely write something or give a speech, or teach a class or workshop, without in some fashion or another referring to one or both.

Jung spoke of the need for people to individuate, and Campbell spoke of the hero's journey. Both concepts are similar in tenor, as both refer to the process through which we as human beings can - and should - go, in order to become more of that which we are capable of being, and in order to fulfill our individual purpose, find meaning in our lives, and in essence, through our collective growth as individuals, make the world a better place.

Interestingly Campbell refers to our passage through the dark forest where we meet trials and tribulations in our quest to complete the hero's journey, often finding chance helpmeets who allow us to continue our path, while Jung refers to our encounter with the shadow, that part of our own psyche that remains in shadow as long as we do not bring it into the light, in order to become conscious of all facets of our being, in order then, to become free of the shadow's blind reactions to people and events in our lives.

Below is a video that was taken from an interview Campbell granted some time before his death. In it he speaks of myth as a lie, and the hero's journey.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for reviving two of my favorite personalities and thinkers, (introduced to me by your's truly) Thank You, Ric

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  2. Those were the days, right? Good to remember it, although a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.

    Take care.

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