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Considering Joseph Campbell
Rusty and the Crackpot are Slated to Discuss our Most Syncretic Mythologist
© 2021 James LaFond
From July 2021
“Let's talk Campbell,  archetypes,  motifs , mythos etc.”

Rusty and I have been trying to develop a dialogue on his Vignettes that will be wide-ranging enough to engage a wide variety of listeners. I suggested a break from plumbing the well of lies that is American History. Rusty's interest in heroism and mythology is keen. So he asked me if I was familiar with the works of Joseph Campbell.
I read Campbell from the late 1980s through 2010. Overall, he is a plodding author and was a fine speaker. So his best two books—the most readable, are:
-The Power of Myth, the transcript of a Bill Moyers PBS interview with Campbell. This is his most accessible work and should be available on video.
-Transformations of Myth Through Time is a transcript of a 14-part lecture he gave, which I once had on VHS. This is by far his best work and made him a lot of enemies in the Camps of Abraham. He described Moses as “the first protestant,” and insists on drawing parallels between various religions, noting that there are many world-wide similarities. This rankles pious souls who see their faith as having no links to other religions and to be completely insular. His work was black-balled for a while in the late 1990s based on a graduate student of his claiming that he was an Anti-Shemite. His work on Dine sand-painting in this book is excellent.
The other books of his that I have read are:
-Hero with a Thousand Faces, written in the 1950s, which is a hard read but did have a lot of valuable density and was key in helping me understand the origins and character of ancient boxing.
-Flight of the Wild Gander is an excellent little book on folklore, which I used in 2009 for researching Comes the Six Winter Night.
I have not read Myths to Live By.
There was also a four books series of his which I did not read.
I did read and used for reference works:
-The Encyclopedia of World Mythology, for which he was the series editor. This is an invaluable set of five over-sized and profusely illustrated works which I used for researching Big Water Blood Song, Ghosts of the Sunset World, Beyond the Ember Star, Thunderboy, Den of the Ender and God's Picture Maker. The series was invaluable for developing an understanding of how biology, climate and race intersect with faith and myth down through the ages.
This set begins with two volumes dedicated to The Way of the Animal Powers, providing the best overview of Amerindian Myth I have found. It sketches a comprehensive Iroquois cosmology, which I have used to develop the Three-Rivers and WhiteSkyCanoe characters in The Sunset Saga and also to write the novel Thunderbird.
The third fourth and fifth volumes of this encyclopedia, long since lost to me, detail The Way of the Seeded Earth, or the religions and myths of civilization. I cannot recommend this set enough.
Campbell, in my opinion, fell partway into the metaphysical trap of his age, by over-focusing on Hindu and Buddhist theology and trying too hard to blend connections with other slave religions and the mythic systems of the hunting soul. This made him the darling of “cosmic oatmeal cookie” kumbaya dreamers turning away from late stage tithing faiths in our increasingly soulless modern world. Such lost folks were his bread and butter readership, like the fаggot that wrote Star Wars. However, I see Campbell's most important contribution being his systemic development of an understanding of heroism as a sacral cycle of acts and his examination of the Grail Romances. I suspect that this is in part vested in his early life as a competitive collegiate runner. I can't walk through a catholic church seeing the Stations of the Cross or read Paul's letters to the Corinthians without seeing these things through the lens of Joseph Campbell, a man who seemed to do everything in his limited power to walk us coherently into our collective soul without obsessing over growing Utopia and polishing coins like most of his dreaming kind.
His contention that “life is sorrowful” and that mythology is our many-faceted attempt to deal with our ever-present doom will never find favor with most of us—but that is the point of the inner quest, separation from the drool meat-sticks of economic humanity.
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Ruben     Sep 1, 2021

My kiddo asked me today if he made pork and beans. I like to died.
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