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Topic: The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell (book)

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L. G. (L)
Subject: The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell (book)
Date Posted: 5/27/2008 3:26 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I watched the series of interviews years ago (1984...?)  and am interested in reading the book now, just to refresh my memory.  Has anyone seen the series and read the book - and liked them both?  I would like to get the series on DVD too.

Date Posted: 5/27/2008 12:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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I haven't read it, didn't see it when it was on PBS [public broadcasting, that is], but I just put the book on my reserve list at the library. Most of what I know about myth is from Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization, and I wish so much I had not given those books away. I was fortunate to pick up the last 5-6 volumes of the series as they were being published. It's a pity they did not live to complete the series, but what they did complete is a gift.

My library has only Campbell's book, no video, unfortunately.

Thanks for bringing this book up.



Last Edited on: 5/27/08 7:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/27/2008 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Thanks for the rec- I have heard of the Durants but not read them. :)

Getting the book from the library is an excellent idea - thanks!

Date Posted: 5/27/2008 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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I've got the book, but haven't read it for years.  My husband really enjoyed both the book and the series, but I didn't see the whole series.  I found it a really fascinating book, it was really interesting to see the contrasts, but even more the similarities between societies. 

I particularly loved this story:

A troubled woman came to the Indian saint Ramakrishna, saying, "Oh, Master, I do not find that I love God." He asked, "Is there nothing, then, that you love?" To this she answered, "My little nephew." He replied, "There is your love and service to God, in your love and service to that child."

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/27/2008 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Georgeous! :D

I could listen to Campbell's voice all day.  There something about him that is just naturally calming.

T. -
Date Posted: 5/27/2008 7:29 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
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I have the book on my TBR.  I'll have to dig it out.

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 3:18 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
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Yes!!!!!  The book is in the same format as the interviews.  So, it's question and answer.  It's one of the few books I've read more than once.  I think the book captures the spirit of the show very well.

I thought the book helped with absorbing the information. Joseph Campbell says alot in those interviews. It's in sections and you can look things up in the index. 



Last Edited on: 5/31/08 3:19 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/31/2008 4:33 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Thanks Mel.  I WLed the illustrated PB edition as well as the HC, smaller edition.  Hopefully I'll be one of the chosen.  I think I want to get the interviews on DVD, too... :)

Date Posted: 6/1/2008 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2006
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What a coincindence!  I just finished dusting that very book, and I told my son "This book changed my life" and I told him I'd probably assign him to read it when he was older.  I put it in with my most treasured books - I was reshelving them - and sat down to rest - signed on to PBS, and here was this thread!

:)

T. -
Date Posted: 6/1/2008 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
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I checked and I have the PB non-illustrated edition.  Bummer.  Oh well, at least I have the book.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 6/1/2008 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
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Kristi, that's cool. :)

Date Posted: 6/2/2008 2:50 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
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I reread very few books, but that one has captivated me for years.  I can read a section then go off to pondering how similiar we all really are.

Date Posted: 6/2/2008 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 11/27/2006
Posts: 4,840
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Dang it!!   I hate it when I read threads like this 5 minutes after returning from the library!

AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!! 

Will provide me with a good excuse to go back when DH gets home, and have some "me" time though!

 

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 11/27/2006
Posts: 4,840
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Woo hoo!  I had my library get this book for me and it's in!  I'll go pick it up tonight.  Can't wait to read it.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2007
Posts: 1,951
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Do get the videos as well, L!

I've got a big 'ole Campbell library - and consider him one of the most important minds of our lifetime.  He reads many of his books for the audio versions, and I've copied several of those.  His wrintings on James Joyce are fantastic - even not having read Joyce, I could listen to Campbell talk about Portrait of the Artist.. for hours on end (and have).

Ultimately - I think Hero With A Thousand Faces is regarded as his most influential book - but Power Of Myth is his most accessible work (IMO).  A perfect 'jumping on' place. Eventually the JC reader graduates to The Masks of God trilogy. It is not to be missed, I believed he died during the writing of the third book - but it was complete enough to publish.

Being introduced to Campbell may be the best thing to came out of my higher education (in my writing class).

He set a fantastic example as a person who knew the intricasies of hundreds of belief systems and wasn't at all discouraged or disheartened by the knowledge - expressing incredible comfort and joy in the commonalities of human thought, belief, and the psychological underpinnings of humanity. 

I can't think of him without wanting to read his words.

Beth - I think you will find that you are in for a real treat, and I'm jealous if you are just discovering him.  If there were only one author I could read for the rest of my life it would probably be Joseph Campbell (and the stories he retells).

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 11/27/2006
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I started reading The Power of Myth last night, and I'm afraid I'm stupid. :(    Granted, I was very tired (I was reading in bed) but I found it hard to concentrate.  I only got through the Introduction and the first chapter though, so maybe it will "click" when I sit down with it this evening.  I hope so.

 

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2007
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Beth - it might not click as well as reading something else since its an interview transcript... I hadn't really considered that, it wanders a bit (like a conversation).  I hope you like it better as it goes on, too.  If not, maybe the video of the interview would be more to your liking.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 6/9/2008 1:25 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Yay - I got the illustrated version posted to my WL!! :)

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
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So is the author an atheist or does he believe in some kind of religion? Hard to find good atheist book on this site.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 6/15/2008 2:52 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I would say he's probably best described as an agnostic.  He's a scholar in comparative religion, and brilliant, to say the least.

 

Date Posted: 6/16/2008 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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I don't think agnostic quite explains it.  As it is usually used, an agnostic is someone who doesn't know whether there is a God or supernatural and who doesn't think it can be known.  This doesn't really describe Campbell, as far as I can tell.  He definitely seemed to believe that there was an "other" and that the similarity of myths between cultures was evidence of this "other."  We may not be able to truly know or understand it, but it is definitely there.

Here's a site that explains it:

http://www.biblio.com/authors/629/Joseph_Campbell_Biography.html

His take on religion has been compared to Einstein's idea of science in his last days, the search is for a unifying theory. Joseph Campbell believed all the religions of the world, all the rituals and deities, to be "masks" of the same transcendent truth which is "unknowable." He claims Christianity and Buddhism, whether the object is 'Buddha-consciousness' or 'Christ-consciousness,' to be an elevated awareness above "pairs of opposites," such as right and wrong.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 6/16/2008 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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As it is usually used, an agnostic is someone who doesn't know whether there is a God or supernatural and who doesn't think it can be known.

If you remove the "...who doesn't think it can be known" I'd agree.  Most self-described agnostics I know don't commit either was as to whether or not it can be known, or they think it possibly can be known, but that we simply don't know, yet.  The latter is where I thought Campbell lies.  I could be wrong.  He certainly doesn't believe in a traditional concept of "God".

 

 

 

Date Posted: 6/16/2008 8:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2007
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Last Edited on: 1/21/09 1:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 6/17/2008 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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He knew most people wouldn't have the slightest interest in learning all they would need to in order to truly understand their place in a global way, incorporating diverse belief systems.  Because the majority of people won't pursue broad knowledge - he seemed to encourage that bigger group to do the polar opposite, which was to adhere more firmly to their inherited belief.  Its paradoxical, to me.

Yes - that is bizarre, really.  I need to read the book and see how much I retained from the show 20 years ago. :p

I just got my beautiful, illustrated copy . :)  I have to wait to read it because I'm in the middle of multiple books right now, but man, it's gorgeous!



Last Edited on: 6/17/08 3:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/18/2008 8:59 AM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2007
Posts: 1,951
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Last Edited on: 1/21/09 1:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 3