Saturday, January 8, 2011

Joseph Campbell: Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell has not only lent his amazing perspective on the depths of Myth and Mythological interpretations of world religions to scholars and students, all popular culture we experience today has been impacted by his works. You've heard of "Star Wars" right? George Lucas was one of Campbell's students. Upon reading A "Hero with a Thousand Faces" Lucas developed the common archetypal characters needed to develop his scripts and assign a spiritual paradigm. This is just a small example of how Joseph Campbell's studies have impacted popular culture today.

As for me, I picked up a copy of "The Power of Myth" one day at a small Flea Market on a dusty old shelf about twelve years ago. Engrossed by its contents, I began to understand what I need to do to expand on the concepts I hoped to include in my Epic. Thank you Joseph Campbell. With all of my heart, soul, and ambition, I am "Following My Bliss."

Originally titled How to Read a Myth, and based on the introductory class on mythology that he had been teaching at Sarah Lawrence CollegeThe Hero with a Thousand Faces was published in 1949 as Campbell's first foray as a solo author; it established his name outside of scholarly circles and remains, arguably, his most influential work to this day. Not only did it introduce the concept of the hero's journey to popular thinking, but it also began to popularize the very idea of comparative mythology itself—the study of the human impulse to create stories and images that, though they are clothed in the motifs of a particular time and place, draw nonetheless on universal, eternal themes. Campbell asserted:

"Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky. Furthermore, it is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history mythology is absurd. When a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it, temples become museums, and the link between the two perspectives becomes dissolved.[21]"

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