Monday, August 15, 2011

Mythology Mondays - Joseph Campbell

Every since I started thinking about doing Mythology Mondays, I've been wondering what happened to a particular book that my husband bought years ago. For a while I couldn't even remember the name of it. Finally I recalled that it was Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. But where the heck was it? Finally this weekend I recalled that it was in a stack of books that's been the display vase for a lovely piece of pottery.

Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) is best known for his work in comparative mythology. In his monomyth concept, Campbell talked about  the idea that "the whole of the human race could be seen as reciting a single story of great spiritual importance. Over time, the story evolved based on the culture in which it was being told, taking on different masks based on societal structures and necessities.

Campbell felt that myths served four purposes:

1. Metaphysical: awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being.

2. Cosmological: explaining the shape of the universe.

3. Sociological: supporting the existing social order

4. Psychological: guide the individual through life.

Ouch, my head is already starting to hurt. Maybe I'm not going to be up to reading this book after all! Oh, but wait. This book is "with Bill Moyers," respected and beloved journalist. The entire book is a conversation between Moyers and Campbell. Surely Moyers will make Campbell explain his theories in such a way that I can understand what he's saying without having to work too hard. And just maybe I'll even be able to explain to you what I've read as I go along.

To be continued....

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