Psychology & Myth
I love the mono-myth concept, and the mingling/blending of images/patterns that shift over time,
but the core essence remains the same. One Original source.
And I, having a curious mind, meet my muse in the space in-between folklore & reality - it's where we play.
A sacred union that ignites creativity, when the inner child meets the adult and the two compare.
An American Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. Campbell's most well-known work is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), in which he discusses his theory of the journey of the archetypal hero shared by world mythologies, termed the mono-myth.
Since the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell's theory has been applied by a wide variety of modern writers and artists. His philosophy has been summarised by his own often repeated phrase: "Follow your bliss."
He gained recognition in Hollywood when George Lucas credited Campbell's work as influencing his Star Wars saga. 'The Force' aspect.
Campbell's concept of mono-myth (one myth) refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. The theory is based on the observation that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation.
The central pattern most studied by Campbell is often referred to as the hero's journey and was first described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).Campbell also made heavy use of Carl Jung's theories on the structure of the human psyche, and he often used terms such as anima/animus and ego consciousness.
As a strong believer in the psychic unity of mankind and its poetic expression through mythology, Campbell made use of the concept to express the idea that the whole of the human race can be seen as engaged in the effort of making the world "transparent to transcendence" by showing that underneath the world of phenomena lies an eternal source which is constantly pouring its energies into this world of time, suffering, and ultimately death. To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution to which lies in the metaphors found in myths. These metaphors are statements that point beyond themselves into the transcendent. The Hero's Journey was the story of the man or woman who, through great suffering, reached an experience of the eternal source and returned with gifts powerful enough to set their society free.
As this story spread through space and evolved through time, it was broken down into various local forms (masks), depending on the social structures and environmental pressures that existed for the culture that interpreted it. These stages, as well as the symbols one encounters throughout the story, provide the necessary metaphors to express the spiritual truths the story is trying to convey. Metaphor for Campbell, in contrast with comparisons which make use of the word like, pretend to a literal interpretation of what they are referring to.
In the 2000 documentary Joseph Campbell: A Hero's Journey, he explains God in terms of a metaphor:
God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being. Those are categories of thought. I mean it's as simple as that. So it depends on how much you want to think about it. Whether it's doing you any good. Whether it is putting you in touch with the mystery that's the ground of your own being. If it isn't, well, it's a lie. So half the people in the world are religious people who think that their metaphors are facts. Those are what we call theists. The other half are people who know that the metaphors are not facts. And so, they're lies. Those are the atheists.
Campbell believed the religions of the world to be the various culturally influenced "masks" of the same fundamental, transcendent truths. All religions can bring one to an elevated awareness above and beyond a dualistic conception of reality, or idea of "pairs of opposites" such as being and non-being, or right and wrong. Indeed, he quotes from the Rigveda in the preface to The Hero with a Thousand Faces: "Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names."
George Lucas was the first Hollywood filmmaker to credit Campbell's influence. Lucas stated, following the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977, that its story was shaped, in part, by ideas described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and other works of Campbell's. The linkage between Star Wars and Campbell was further reinforced when later reprints of Campbell's book used the image of Luke Skywalker on the cover. Lucas discusses this influence at great length in the authorised biography of Joseph Campbell, A Fire in the Mind:
I came to the conclusion after American Graffiti that what's valuable for me is to set standards, not to show people the world the way it is...around the period of this realisation...it came to me that there really was no modern use of mythology...The Western was possibly the last generically American fairy tale, telling us about our values. And once the Western disappeared, nothing has ever taken its place. In literature we were going off into science fiction...so that's when I started doing more strenuous research on fairy tales, folklore, and mythology, and I started reading Joe's books. Before that I hadn't read any of Joe's books...It was very eerie because in reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces I began to realise that my first draft of Star Wars was following classic motifs... So I modified my next draft [of Star Wars] according to what I'd been learning about classical motifs and made it a little bit more consistent...I went on to read 'The Masks of God' and many other books.Lucas invited Campbell to watch the entire Star Wars trilogy at Skywalker Ranch, which Campbell called "real art".
Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood screenwriter, created a seven-page company memo based on Campbell's work, A Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which led to the development of Disney's 1994 film The Lion King. Among films that many viewers have recognised as closely following the pattern of the mono-myth are The Matrix series, the Batman series and the Indiana Jones series.
After the explosion of popularity brought on by the Star Wars films and The Power of Myth, creative artists in many media recognised the potential to use Campbell's theories to try to unlock human responses to narrative patterns. Novelists, songwriters, video game designers have studied Campbell's work in order to better understand mythology – in particular, the mono-myth – and its impact.
The novelist Richard Adams acknowledges a debt to Campbell's work and specifically to the concept of the mono-myth. In his best known work, Watership Down, Adams uses extracts from The Hero with a Thousand Faces as chapter epigrams.
Dan Brown mentioned in a New York Times interview that Joseph Campbell's works, particularly The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, inspired him to create the character of Robert Langdon.
One of Campbell's most identifiable, most quoted and arguably most misunderstood sayings was his admonition to "follow your bliss". He derived this idea from the Upanishads:
Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: Sat-Chit-Ananda. The word "Sat" means being. "Chit" means consciousness. "Ananda" means bliss or rapture. I thought, "I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being." I think it worked.
He saw this not merely as a mantra, but as a helpful guide to the individual along the hero journey that each of us walks through life:
If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, that myth evolves over time through four stages:
The Way of the Animal Powers—the myths of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers which focus on shamanism and animal totems.
The Way of the Seeded Earth—the myths of Neolithic, agrarian cultures which focus upon a mother goddess and associated fertility rites.
The Way of the Celestial Lights—the myths of Bronze Age city-states with pantheons of gods ruling from the heavens, led by a masculine god-king.
The Way of Man—religion and philosophy as it developed after the Axial Age (c. 6th century BC), in which the mythic imagery of previous eras was made consciously metaphorical, reinterpreted as referring to psycho-spiritual, not literal-historical, matters. This transition is evident in the East in Buddhism, Vedanta, and philosophical Taoism; and in the West in the Mystery cults, Platonism, Christianity and Gnosticism.
REF: The Aarne–Thompson–Uther classification system is an index used in folkloristics to organize, classify, and analyze folklore narratives.
© Copyright Traceyanne McCartney