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Joseph Campbell 1972

For all students of Joseph Campbell. Here is an article from Time magazine, Jan. 17, 1972. I am always interested to learn more on how Campbell and Jung's philosophies evolved. These age old articles give insights to the process to their thinking. Comparing this article to the refined language Campbell used in The Power of Myth {just one source} you can see the subtle evolution to his approach to delivering the message to the masses.

From the article:
What is a myth? In Campbell's academic jargon, it is a dreamlike "symbol that evokes and directs psychological energy." A vivid story or legend, it is but one part of a larger fabric of myths that, taken together, form a mythology that expresses a culture's attitude toward life, death and the universe around it.

For me this is raw and gets to the depths. By the time Campbell recorded the The Power of Myth series with Bill Moyers his approach was a bit different. No less correct, it was his way or articulating 'inherent truths' so ordinary minds like my own could understand:

From the The Power of Myth

Bill Moyers: Myths are clues?

Joseph Campbell: Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

Bill Moyers: What we are capable of knowing and experiencing within?

Joseph Campbell: Yes.

Bill Moyers: You changed the definition of a myth from the search for meaning to the experience of meaning.

Of course The Power of Myth was the tool that turned so many of us into students of Campbell.

More from the article:
Though not true in a literal sense, a myth is not what it is considered to be in everyday speech—a fantasy or a misstatement. It is rather a veiled explanation of the truth.

I think of myths as exaggerated truths

From the article:
What should a mythology do? In Campbell's view, a "properly operating" mythology has four important functions:

To begin with, through its rites and imagery it wakens and maintains in the individual a sense of awe, gratitude and even rapture, rather than fear, in relation to the mystery both of the universe and of man's own existence within it.

Secondly, a mythology offers man a comprehensive, understandable image of the world around him, roughly in accord with the best scientific knowledge of the time. In symbolic form, it tells him what his universe looks like and where he belongs in it.

The third function of a living mythology is to support the social order through rites and rituals that will impress and mold the young. In India, for example, the basic myth is that of an impersonal power, Brahma, that embodies the universe. The laws of caste are regarded as inherent features of this universe and are accepted and obeyed from childhood. Cruel as this may seem to Westerners, the myth of caste does give Indian society a stability it might otherwise lack and does make life bearable to the impoverished low castes.

The fourth and, in Campbell's view, the most important function of mythology, is to guide the individual, stage by stage, through the inevitable psychological crises of a useful life: from the childhood condition of dependency through the traumas of adolescence and the trials of adulthood to, finally, the deathbed.

"There is no general mythology today," Campbell says, "nor can there ever be again.

This is a great read
The Need for New Myths


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