Sunday, November 02, 2008

Joseph Campbell - The Power of Myth

I never want to over-underline a book, defeating the purpose of finding the one meaningful sentence or passage, but I'm having a hard time putting down my pen, and I'm only in the introduction by Bill Moyers.

Here's some of my underlined passages so far:

"To him (Joseph Campbell) mythology was 'the song of the universe,' 'the music of the spheres' -- music we dance to even when we cannot name the tune. We are hearing its refrains 'whether we listen with aloof amusement to the mumbo jumbo of some witch doctor of the Congo, or read with cultivated rapture translations from sonnets of Lao-tsu, or now and again crack the hard nutshell of an argument of Aquinas, or catch suddenly the shining meaning of a bizarre Eskimoan fairy tale."

"He (Campbell) wanted to know what it means that God assumes such different masks in different cultures, yet how it is that comparable stories can be found in these divergent traditions -- stories of creation, of virgin births, incarnations, death and resurrection, second comings, and judgment days. He liked the insight of Hindu scripture: 'Truth is one; the sages call it by many names.' All our names and images for God are masks, he said, signifying the ultimate reality that by definition transcends language and art. A myth is a mask of Good, too -- a metaphor for what lies behind the visible world. However the mystic traditions differ, he said, they are in accord in calling us to a deeper awareness of the very act of living itself. The unpardonable sin, in Campbell's book, was the sin of inadvertance, of not being alert, not quite awake."

1 comment:

Ben Dennis said...

Thanks for keeping our friend Joe Campbell alive.

Cheers, Ben