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Prologue: The Monomyth 
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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
oblivion wrote:
I received my copy, so here goes:

I don't know what copies you all have, but mine sports a Blake etching on the cover. How appropriate!

For those who are not familiar with C G Jung, (and Campbell draws on him heavily; he was a student of his):
Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst best known for his dream analysis. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. Jung's concept of archetypes is what will mainly be of relevance to us here. Jung and his students observed their patients and their dreams and came to the conclusion that certain traces of cultures and peoples were present with whom these patients had had no contact whatsoever. Jung proposed the idea that religious and cultural concepts, irregardless of time or place, all bear strong similarities, and the images, motives, etc repeat themselves. In other words, these images or symbols are always present and have not been influenced by culture. For Jung, of course, this new idea was important for the treatment of psychosis and neurosis. Campbell uses it as a tool and carries it into the dimension of mythology.


My copy of the book (Bollingen 3rd ed.) has the face of what looks like a Greek warrior (maybe Odysseus?) that is made up of a collage of smaller photographs of humans from many cultures. I am ignorant of this type of art and who the Greek face is. Maybe somebody can tell me. I see that a special edition of this book came out after the Star Wars movie with Luke Skywalker on the cover.

Here's mine:

Image

I've always wanted to know more about Jungian archetypes, so I can't wait to dig into this. I'm just getting into the first chapter now where Campbell is discussing Freud's Oedipus complex.


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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
While I must apologise for reading two books at once, I cannot help taking an interest in The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

What caught my eye in Campbell’s discussion of the monomyth was his explanation of the origin of the minotaur myth. King Minos, son of Europa, promised Poseidon, God of the Sea, that he would sacrifice a bull provided by the God, but in the event this bull was so beautiful that Minos sought to deceive the God by substituting another bull at the altar so he could retain possession of the divine animal. The eventual result of this impiety was that his wife Pasiphae grew a strange lust for the beautiful bull and conceived a monster to it, with the help of science.

I feel that Campbell implies this myth has lessons for the USA. The disregard for the message of nature – what Campbell describes as “the make believe about heaven, future bliss and compensation” – involves an impiety towards nature. At the archetypal level the male sense that nature can be disregarded somehow leads to a twisted female union with nature whose spiritual child is a minotaur, a destructive mixing of the natural and the human, that must continually be fed by sacrifice of what is most precious.

Very interesting then that Theseus the hero solves the problem with the assistance of Daedalus, the scientist who brokered the birth of the monster, with something as simple as a thread that connects him to his original point of safety as he seeks the beast. No one had previously thought to connect to the origin, but this simple measure is the source of salvation.



Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:49 pm
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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Hot Damn!! Joe Campbell?, i'm in like Flynn.... i'm there like a bear. (make that here like a beer)

and luckily stahrwe thinks Campbell is a hack so i wont have to worry about him showing up. :twisted: :mrgreen:

shall dust off my pdf reader and refresh my memory, there are some passages in this book that are simply sky splitting.



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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Quote:
In a word: the first work of the hero is to retreat from the world scene of secondary effects to those causal zones of the psyche where the difficulties really reside, and there to clarify the difficulties, eradicate them in his own case (i.e. , give battle to the nursery demons of his local culture) and break through to the undistorted, direct experience and assimilation of what C.G.Jung has called "the archetypal images." This is the process known to Hindu and Buddhist philosophy as viveka, "discrimination. "


brilliant stuff, succinctly put.

resonates amazingly well with this lyric

I know, I know
you'll probably scream n' cry
That your little world won't let you go
But who in your measly little world are you trying to prove to that
You're made out of gold and ah, can't be sold

So ah, Are You Experienced?
Ah! Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have

the need to break through to direct experience, to transcend the metaphor.



Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:47 am
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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Robert Tulip wrote:
an impiety towards nature ....a destructive mixing of the natural and the human, that must continually be fed by sacrifice of what is most precious.


nice going Robert, we're surrounded by it aren't we, i often think how that rogue cells are cancer and we humans are like rogue cells, on a larger plane, growing what we ought not where we ought not just like cancer, instead of harmonising and beautifying we often just make ugly brown stains on the landscape, i mean what bird is dumb enough to crap in its own nest.

the transition from seeing only outer physical disconnectedness to inward integration and interconnectedness of all things, to see the outward as a reflection of the inward, seems a most pressing need if we are going to keep this show on the road,

i agree with Jung that the main threat we face as humans is our own undeveloped psyche.

on a positive note, i know from experience that an individual can make the transition from what might be metaphorically described as an age of pisces to an age of aquarius so i hope that mankind as a whole will do and is doing just the same, as below so above style.



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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Campbell’s theory of the ‘monomyth’ as a universal archetypal narrative of myth involves the idea that the hero is always initially unrecognized, but goes through a major challenge and emerges triumphant. Campbell makes a real psychological insight here, that with hindsight heroism is popular, but in advance it is totally lonely, taking the hero along a dark night of the soul. The point is that the hero must exercise personal vision and courage in order to complete the quest.

Most people regard heroic attitudes as foolhardy, and justify this cynicism by observation of the failure of so many heroic ambitions. Many are called but few are chosen, as someone somewhere said. After the hero has achieved the goal, everyone becomes his friend, but while the goal remains in the future he is on his own.

It is difficult to get into the minds of the people of earlier times. Those who criticize heroic ambition at the time are often later condemned as cowards, knaves or fools. This later condemnation comes from people whose perspective has been altered by the act of heroism, the proof that the quest was possible and the vision was true.

Before the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, it was perfectly reasonable to believe that heavier than air flight was impossible, simply because no one had ever done it before. The logic of cynicism is that if something has not been done yet there must be a good reason, ie that it is not possible. Heroes challenge cynicism by presenting a vision of innovation that trusts in their personal powers of judgment and will.

It also happens that heroes are criticized because their pioneering work does not take into account things that were found out as a result of their efforts. One example is Captain James Cook, who claimed Australia for the British Crown in 1770. Cook said his aim was to go further and see more than any man had ever done before. Cook was the great hero of colonial Australia, where the pioneer spirit was celebrated as the impetus for expansion of empire. More recently, Cook has been condemned as an anti-hero, as the cause of the destruction of indigenous culture. This example of Captain Cook highlights the cultural, racial and political assumptions that surround attitudes about heroism.

Another problem in heroism is the demagogue, the individual who is regarded as a hero but is really a liar and fraud. Hitler, Stalin and Mao were wildly feted in their day, owing to popular willingness to be swept along by a heroic vision, regardless of the flaws in the vision. Campbell, by focusing on heroes who are mythical, excludes this false heroism because such figures lose their heroic status once their quest is revealed as illusory. It still leaves open the entrepreneurial problem of how to assess current claims, how to sort the charlatans from the real heroes today.

Napoleon said no man is a hero to his valet, but this deprecation still leaves open the bigger question of whether Napoleon himself should be judged as a hero by history. Chou En Lai said it is too soon to tell if the French Revolution was a success. We are still in the midst of historical currents unleashed by Napoleon, looking at the bigger picture of whether modernity as the antithesis of tradition is yet to create a defining synthesis. A hero for one social group is often a villain for those with opposing interests. Campbell, through his emphasis on the archetype, is asking if we can recognise mythical heroes who transcend sectional interests to achieve universal status.



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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
I loved this paragraph . . .

"The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind—whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. And they may remain unsuspected, or, on the other hand, some chance word, the smell of a landscape, the taste of a cup of tea, or the glance of an eye may touch a magic spring, and then dangerous messengers begin to appear in the brain. These are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our family. But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self. Destruction of the world that we have built and in which we live, and of ourselves within it; but then a wonderful reconstruction, of the bolder, cleaner, more spacious, and fully human life—that is the lure, the promise and terror, of these disturbing night visitants from the mythological realm that we carry within."

Campbell argues that the modern psychoanalyst takes the role of tribal elder to guide us to be reborn, away from the womb and the "catastrophe" of birth. One of the footnotes quotes Freud: "All neurotics are either Oedipus or Hamlet." As I understand Campbell here, the archetypes have to be "discovered and assimilated" in order for us to move past the neurotic stage of adolescence. And those of us who don't remain fixated to the "unexercised images of our infancy." Campbell comments on the pathos of "inverted emphasis" with the goal not to grow old, but to remain young. I have heard (possibly from George Carlin) that Americans seem to regard death as it were optional. I wonder if our modern obsession with consumerism is born of such unresolved spiritual conflict.

After reading this chapter I began thinking of certain movies that show the hero working past some inner conflict in order to be able to win an external conflict. Think of Rocky, The Karate Kid, Avatar. Typically the hero in each of these movies has to be guided by a wise person in order to come to terms with those internal deficiencies which will help the hero to win the final conflict.

Fascinating stuff.


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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Thank you all for your input: I'll finish the book this week and begin fulfilling my job.


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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Doggone you people. I wanted to stay unbusy this spring, not get involved in the bt book, but that might not work. One thing I'm curious about is whether the hero and his career is indeed a male thing as implied. Is Campbell's presentation either somewhat outdated or just showing one side of the coin? How does the female fit in?



Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:47 am
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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
DWill wrote:
Doggone you people. I wanted to stay unbusy this spring, not get involved in the bt book, but that might not work. One thing I'm curious about is whether the hero and his career is indeed a male thing as implied. Is Campbell's presentation either somewhat outdated or just showing one side of the coin? How does the female fit in?


I'm not sure I understand your question, but like Dawkins' necker cube, there are different ways to interpret a text. Based on the first few chapters of Campbell's book, I'd say he's simply analyzing age-old myths from a Jungian archetype perspective. Though such an interpretation, Campbell finds "astonishing consistency" among the world's myths in terms of the hero's psychological journey. I'm only a few chapters in and I'm still getting a feel for the book. It's not an easy read.

In Ch. 3, Campbell presents a sort of overview of the book. Part II—The Cosmogonic Cycle—includes a chapter on The Virgin Birth, "a review of the creative and redemptive roles of the female power, first on a cosmic scale as the Mother of the Universe, then again on the human plane as the Mother of the Hero." Don't know if this addresses your question or not. But the hero in classic myth is usually a male, isn't it?


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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
There is often a strong androgynity in heroism. Jesus, John and Hermes have some feminine qualities. This can be part of their heroism, that they defy a patriarchal world.

I can't think of many female heroes other than Joan of Arc, and in her case her reputation rests on her acting like a man. Mary Magdalene tends to get written out of the story and ignored. Modern women like Eleanor Roosevelt are sometimes seen as heroes, but this slightly jars against the strong association between heroism and the male gender. Symbolically, a sperm has to actively struggle and compete to reproduce, while an egg just waits passively.



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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
What follows here are a few random comments related to Ch. 2 of the prologue—Tragedy and Comedy. I'm reading rather slowly right now.

One would expect to feel disillusioned when the hero or heroine in a story dies. We're all familiar with the ending of Romeo and Juliet. Or the old king in King Lear who makes a series of disastrous decisions and then after a lot of suffering and pain, sees his beloved daughter Cordelia die and then he himself dies. What a downer, right?

My wife hates movies where people die at the end. And sometimes I have to tell her that, yeah, the guy dies, but it's a redemptive ending. Sometimes I can't put my finger on it, but the hero has grown in some way and so it feels all right that he dies, even cathartic. Campbell mentions the term, amor fati.

Amor fati is a Latin phrase coined by Nietzsche loosely translating to "love of fate" or "love of one's fate". It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good. Moreover, it is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one's life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amor_fati

The hero in a Shakespearean play or other classic tragedy is usually of noble descent and he's a good man, but usually has some fatal flaw that leads to his downfall. Aristotle said the hero must be good but not perfect, otherwise we would not have any sense of tragedy in his fall. Also, if he were perfect, we would only feel pity (pathos), but no sense of justice or “rightness” in the tragedy of his death.

In King Lear, for example, we can identify enough with Lear to feel fear and pity for him. By experiencing these emotions we are relieved of them. We feel it as a catharsis or purgation of emotions. And when the hero learns something (a moment of recognition), we learn it too. Aristotle said the purpose of art is to mimic life. We, the audience, participate in a tragedy while at the same time knowing the tragedy isn't happening to us. Thus we draw knowledge and consolation. Without this distance, tragedy could not give rise to catharsis. We internally imitate the lives of the heroes but from a nice cozy distance.

Ultimately, Lear has to learn the truth about his daughters before he dies. He learns that two of his daughters have only disdain for him, while Cordelia really loves him. Only through a lot of suffering can Lear ultimately become a complete man. Tragic but also redemptive.

Campbell here discusses catharsis as it pertains to The Bacchae by Euripides.

"The meditating mind is united, in the mystery play, not with the body that is shown to die, but with the principle of continuous life that for a time inhabited it . . . This death to the logic and emotional commitments of our chance moment in the world of space and time, this recognition of, and shift of our emphasis to, the universal life that throbs and celebrates its victory in the very kiss of our own annihilation, this amor fati love of the fate that is inevitably death, constitutes the experience of the tragic art, the redeeming ecstasy . . ."


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Last edited by geo on Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.



Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:39 pm
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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
This guy has a great blog entry related to the same chapter I discussed above. Well worth reading.

https://englishteacherman.wordpress.com/2010/09/


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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Re androgynity and heros: one of my daughters reminded me that several stars in the music scene are very androgynous (she was thinking particularly of J-pop visuel kei bands and Tokyo Hotel's Bill Kaulitz, who is German). I think that duality is a large part of what makes myth--and thus ultimately, religion--so powerful. Consider yin and yang, Vishnu/Kali (or even better, Shiva in his function of goodness and destroyer), Catharism Light/Shadow, Christianity's God/Satan, Minotaur, etc, etc, etc. I realise, Dwill, you were talking about the male/female, the androgynity of heros and this led me to duality. But I think both are related...both can be seen as aspects of the same thing. And dualism / androgynity make myths and religion much more interesting. How boring the great myths would be if the hero (rock star, deity)did not appeal to all of our contradictory senses. Keep 'em guessing! It's this feeling of uncertainty that takes a hold on our mind and imagination.


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Post Re: Prologue: The Monomyth
Although I haven't taken up this book (springtime stuff to do, and less interesting reading needing to be done), I thought I'd mention the tie-in with Northrop Frye's The Anatomy of Criticism. When I was in grad school in the early 80s CE, the book was still considered by some to be the essential one to read about literary criticism. I'm sure it's not the case now. Frye classifies literary narratives by archetypal characteristics, just as Campbell does for world myths. I'm not sure who influenced whom. Maybe both were influenced by Jung.



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