The Power of Myth
The complete soundtrack from the phenomenally popular PBS series whose message about myth, ritual, and spiritual potentialities exhilarated millions of people. Contents: Program 1: The Hero's AdventureProgram 2: The Message of the MythProgram 3: The First StorytellersProgram 4: Sacrifice and BlissProgram 5: Love and the GoddessProgram 6: Masks of Eternity
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In the introduction to the text, Bill Moyers memorializes Joseph Campbell and his work. He also highlights some of the main arguments that Joseph Campbell presents in his conversations with Moyers. These should be highlighted and remembered because you will need to identify the grounds that support and prove these claims throughout the work. One of the claims Campbell makes is that suffering exists in life and must be accepted in order to fully embrace life. Consider the protagonists you have met in literature. Do they suffer on their journeys to greatness and happiness? Do you think that their greatness stems from their suffering?
One of Bill Moyers colleagues asks the question, " Why do you need the mythology?" Joseph Campbell argues that modern society does not embrace mythology and is therefore experiencing problems throughout society. Have you asked the question, "Why are we learning this?" or "When am I ever going to use this information in 'real life'?" Joseph Campbell presents an argument about why myths should still be taught and revered in our society. He will explore a different facet of myth and how it relates to society in each chapter.
If you haven't seen a Star Wars film, here is a brief summary: the films take place a "long time ago in a galaxy far far away." But the premise of the movie deals with technology and its rule in the potential demise of the universe. There are many conflicts throughout each film, but one of the central conflicts is between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Both men possess the "force" which is an ability similar to telekinesis. The force can be used for good (Luke Skywalker) or evil (otherwise known as he "dark side" represented by Darth Vader). Darth Vader represents technology as well. He was badly injured as he fought his mentor Obiwan Kenobi, and survived by becoming an amalgamation of man and machine. Luke is able to defeat Vader by trusting his own instincts and using his inner force to overcome evil. Vader cannot survive despite his own abilities with the force because technology gives him eternal life. In the video clip below from Star Wars Episode III, Anakin Skywalker is rescued from death by Darth Sidious and through the use of droid technology is rebuilt and reborn as Darth Vader. (This annotation contains a video)
Campbell's impact on his contemporaries and his predecessors is evident by the memorial in his honor. Campbell was well-read and tolerant. These two attributes helped to make him an accessible teacher even though he was incredibly intelligent.
The highlighted paragraph is important to understanding Campbell's central argument. When Bill Moyers states, "He would, I suspect, not settle for the journalist's prosaic definition," he means that Campbell would not agree with the over-simplified argument that myth is a map of experience. Campbell's beliefs about myths, and their impact on society, are more complex than that.
Campbell was raised a Roman Catholic. He read and knew the Bible very well. He also studied various religions from all over the world and had a deep respect for them. He references religion often throughout the text and believes that religious stories, biblical tales, stories from the Koran, are all myths and metaphorical. Do you think this may polarize his audience to some degree? Consider the impact this believe would have on a person who is devout and believes the Bible is an historical document. Would they be more or less likely to agree with Campbell's interpretation and claims?
Campbell helped Moyers recognize the connection between modern society and ancient texts. In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Foster reiterates this idea with the phrase "One Story." It is the argument that all literature (and by extension film, television, and now social media sites like YouTube) do not contain a truly original work. It is all inspired or influenced by something that has been written before. There is "one story" and it is about the human experience. This is not to diminish the works of contemporary writers or filmmakers; instead it acknowledges the link between past and present.
I: Myth and the Modern World
As you read the text, each chapter's title denote the contents of the chapter. Moyers also includes a brief excerpt in italics beneath the chapter title to introduce Campbell's claim in regards to the chapter's topic. Please remember that the text is a transcript of a dialogue between Moyers and Campbell. The conversation has a natural flow to it, so there are some digressions and tangents as the men converse. Please don't be confused by this style. As we breakdown the author's argument, we will also examine some of the allusions and examples Campbell uses in order to help you understand the elements of the argument.
The interview between Moyers and Campbell was released in 1998. Campbell asserts that people are not concerned with myth because "we are not well acquainted with the literature of the spirit. We're interested in the news of the day and the problems of the hour." Do you think that Campbell would be a supporter of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter? Do you think these outlets "impinge upon your attention to the inner life"? On a smaller scale: Do you think that Facebook, texting, email, Snapchat, Twitter, and other forms of social media inhibit your ability to finish your homework, read a magazine, or have a complete and uninterrupted conversation with your peers or family?
In order to convey or illustrate his point, Campbell refers to a text by Thomas Mann. He utilizes this technique throughout the text. This reference to another work within a literary work is called a(n)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Consider Campbell's use of the term "umbilical." Do you know what that word means?
In the Toulmin Model of argument, an author's argument or opinion is known as the claim. Throughout the text, Campbell will assert several claims, but Campbell's central claim is about the relationship of myths with human life. He does not argue that myths help to define the meaning of life, but the "experience of life." He states, "Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life." Can you think of the difference between the term's meaning and experience? Is one passive and one active? As you read, highlight the grounds or supporting evidence that Campbell provides to prove his claim. The video clip below provides a brief outline of the Toulmin Model of Argument. (This annotation contains a video)
This idea of marriage as a union and a recognition of "your other self" may sound familiar to you if you have ever seen the movie Wedding Crashers. In the film, Claire tells a stranger and wedding crasher, John, her maid of honor speech. John warns her that she will "hear crickets" because the speech is too sarcastic. He advises her to speak from the heart and say "something like true love is the soul's recognition of its counterpoint in another." The film was released in 2005. This illustrates Campbell's claim that ideas are shared and recreated throughout media.
Campbell includes the example of marriage and the explanation that marriages fail because the commitment people make when they declare "for better or for worse" is a "remnant of a ritual. " Campbell uses this example to support his claim that
The formation of modern street gangs is an example of grounds for Campbell's claim that modern society does not value or have rituals. He believes that there is no longer an "initiation" into adulthood, so adolescents seek out a ritual that defines them as an adult. Do you agree with Campbell? Are gangs found solely in the twenty-first century, or is there historical evidence that contradicts this assertion? Consider the demographics of gangs throughout history to help shape your response.
Based on the highlighted section, what do you think is Campblell's definition of mythology? Is it the same or similar to the dictionary definition or denotation? What does Campbell's definition connote?
Campbell believes his Roman Catholic upbringing helped shaped his beliefs and claims because he was "taught to take myths seriously and to let it operate your life and to live in terms of these mythic motifs." In addition to his upbringing, his less specialized and more general academic studies allows Campbell to make cross-cultural connections that a specialist may not perceive. These are both examples of authority. An authority figure is an expert or someone who is highly regarded in their field. Moyers provided additional evidence of Campbell's authority in his introduction that Campbell is a respected teacher and writer.
Moyers asks Campbell if his Catholic faith and the "Indian stories" collided. Campbell explains that "there was no collision" because "there were the same stories" in each set of myths he studied. The lack of "collision" between faith and myths illustrates Campbell's claim that
Campbell supports his claim that the lack of myths in contemporary society is leading to the loss of society by using testimony about his students at Sarah Lawrence. Testimony is a first hand account of an incident. Testimony can be unreliable because it is subjective. Campbell states that his students loved to study myths because "it teaches you about your own life." Is this observation reliable?
Why does Campbell argue that a return to the "old time religion" is not the solution to the younger generation's lack of connection to society?
Campbell addresses the idea of internal versus external journeys throughout the text. It is important that you understand what Campbell means when he says "consciousness." The denotation of the term is to be awake and aware of one's surroundings. The connotation of the term is different when Campbell discusses consciousness. He explains that he believes that consciousness is beyond the "Cartesian mode" belief that consciousness is bound to the mind and head. But according to Campbell, consciousness is an acute awareness of all the senses, and he believes "consciousness and energy" are the same thing and both "inform" you. There is consciousness all around and may be experienced by all living things. As you read keep this idea in mind.
Campbell believes that myths are not "other people's dreams" but "are archetypal dreams and deal with great human problems." Which claim does this statement affirm?
It is important to keep in mind that this text is a transcript of a dialogue between Moyers and Campbell. At times, the men seem to jump from one subject to another. The conversation shifts from the archetypal quality of myths to how films help to transform actors to mythologized figures because of the characters they portray. This relates to Campbell's assertion that myths, like characters that are mythologized, help to instruct and shape society.
In the highlighted exchange between Campbell and Moyers, what is Moyers trying to ask Campbell?
Campbell compares Star Wars to the Faust stories that are found in various pieces of literature. In the Faust stories, a man is usually dissatisfied with his life in some way and makes a pact with the Devil to improve his situation. The main character enjoys the unlimited knowledge and pleasure in the physical world for a time, but once he realizes that his deal has a price to be paid, the main character wishes to be released from the deal. This usually happens after the main character inflicts pain on his loved ones, causes destruction due to his selfish acts, or realizes that eternal bliss will not be achieved (he will not go to Heaven). The story ends with the main character's redemption because of his loved one's diligence and God's forgiveness, or the main character's damnation to Hell. A great example of the Faust legend in pop culture is the Simpson's episode "Bart Sells His Soul." In the episode, Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars and then spends the rest of the episode regretting his decision.
Campbell describes the internal mechanisms of a computer as "a whole hierarchy of angels - all on slats" and "those little tubes - those are miracles." What do Campbell's metaphors imply?
Campbell compares the evolution and adaptation of computers and software in order to meet the needs of the consumer, to the adaption of myths to the introduction of new people and ideas. It is important to remember that Campbell believes that myths are metaphors and not historical accounts. Unlike the immutability of historical accounts, he believes that the metaphors transform "when the world changes."
According to Campbell, the difficulty that modern society faces in creating new myths is
There is an Anglo-Saxton poem titled "The Wanderer." It is about a warrior who is the only remaining member of his clan. Because all the other members are dead, he is forced to wander alone because no other clan will accept him. The other clans are circumspect about why he survived when all others are dead. Though the man is not guilty of a crime, he is not trusted by the other members of his society. The link to the translated text is provided below. This exemplifies Campbell's point that past myths are accepted because there are boundaries to the social groups. There is a sense of brotherhood within a community and "aggression is projected outward." This also helps to explain how myths can dictate a set of morals and values that must be adhered to within the confines of a community but do not apply to outsiders. Campbell uses the example of the commandment "thou shall not kill" versus the belief that killing is an accepted factor of war. The aggression may be directed outward but not inward. (This annotation contains a link)
Campbell explains that the formation of the United States from thirteen individual colonies is a model of how modern myths can be formed. The United States formed through consideration of the individual interests and mutual interests and not through warfare. Campbell's example and explanation is an example of which element of his argument?
Let's take a moment and review: Campbell's central claim is that there are not modern myths. He presents grounds in the form of authority and testimony to support this claim. The warrant that you can infer based on the claim and grounds is that there is no societal structure that provides a place for myth to be developed or embraced. Campbell continues to develop his argument by including backing or additional justification for the warrant.
In his conversation with Campbell, Moyers is a reverent student and a "doubting Thomas." His questions of Campbell's ideas and beliefs help to develop the argument further because they provide a rebuttal to the argument. A rebuttal acknowledges the limitations or exceptions to the argument. In this instance, Campbell argues that the construction of the dollar bill was intentionally symbolic and was embedded in mythological beliefs. Campbell was aware that the forefathers were believers in and representatives of the Enlightenment Movement. The Enlightenment Movement focused on reason and the natural rights of humanity: the right to question, rebel, think freely and openly, and to pursue liberty. According to Campbell, it was an amalgamation of these factors that contributed to the formation of the imagery on the dollar bill and our seal. Moyers questions Campbell's reasoning and states a more logical reason for their formation, "But, as a practical matter, there were thirteen states." This statement allows Campbell to further qualify his interpretation and claims.
Campbell includes the anecdote about his lecture at the Foreign Service Institute in order to illustrate
Because Campbell is a very intelligent man and very well read, you may not understand or know all of the references he makes. It is also easy to become lost in the sea of references and grounds he provides to support his claims. If you feel confused, look at Moyers questions or statements. He usually summarizes or asks an important question about Campbell's claims. Here Moyers asks if "the voice of reason" is what the mythological symbols suggest. The answer is yes. Campbell believes that the new mythology is based on reason and logic.
According to Moyer, Campbell is confusing because on one hand he praises the individual's intuition over the reliance of technology but then on the other hand, he claims that reason is the basis for the modern mythology. The two ideas do not seem congruent, but the key is understanding Campbell's interpretation of reasoning. He does not equate reasoning to thinking. Campbell believes that "reason has to do with the finding the ground of being and the fundamental structuring of order of the universe." This is another claim Campbell will support throughout the text: science and faith. are not mutually exclusive of one another.
Do you agree or disagree with Campbell's statement? Do you think that in today's society "things are changing too fast to become mythologized"? Why or why not? Use textual evidence to support your conclusion.
Another claim Campbell will support throughout the text is his belief that humanity must redevelop a relationship with nature. He believes that the Western ideas of man's dominance of nature was established through biblical myths. This differs from the Eastern philosophies where man and nature live symbiotically and nature is revered. Remember to think of Campbell's claims as an argument. You need to identify the grounds he uses to support that claim and consider if his argument is compromised by any evidence he fails to consider or present.
This highlighted passage is important because it is Campbell's central argument about myth and the modern world.
What does Campbell believe is the unifying factor for modern myth?
Campbell includes and incorporates the letter of Chief Seattle to illustrate the striking contrast between Western beliefs about the natural world and the Native American's beliefs about man's relationship with nature. The basic difference in myths and consequently the values of the two cultures was a source of conflict that resulted in the formations of reservations and the decimation of many of the Native American people. Campbell includes this to illustrate his claim that modern myth must reflect a world view and not a myopic cultural view. Below is an image of Chief Seattle. (This annotation contains an image)
II: The Journey Inward
The second chapter is about myth and the relationship with the individual. The chapter explores the individual's internal struggle or journey and what he or she learns from that journey. Moyers describes the connection to myth as a result of "the unconscious that I have inherited from all that has come before me."
Campbell claims that "myths help you read the messages" of life and therefore help transform the individual. Can you think of an example in literature, a film, or a television show where you viewed a personal journey of an individual and he or she experiences "the black moment .... when the real message of transformation is going to come"? Be sure to include specific details in your summary to illustrate Campbell's claim.
According to Campbell, our dreams are our connection to myths. Remember, Campbell believes that myths are metaphors and symbols of issues that have plagued humanity since its inception. He believes that even personal problems, such as the fear of failing an exam, is symbolized in a passing of a threshold myth. "Passing through a threshold" refers to the idea that you are literally moving through a door and symbolically may mean you are moving forward without the ability to turn back. The threshold may be the beginning an exam, or may be entering into a marriage. That is why one of the bridal traditions is a husband carrying his wife "over the threshold" when they enter their home for the first time. The couple enters as a unit rather than as individuals.
Campbell asserts that dreams are "private myths" and if they "are in accord with public mythology, [you] are more likely to live a healthy life within that society." According to Campbell, what happens to people whose private myths don't coincide with public myths?
The conversation shifts from dreams to the similarities between creation myths. This may seem disjointed, but the chapter is about the inward journey. Any journey must begin with the creation of people. The similarities between the myths are grounds that all myths are metaphorical because if the myths were historical, that would imply all cultures have the same histories.
Moyers read excerpts from the story of Genesis as Campbell cites excerpts from other creation stories in order to illustrate the similarities between the myths. This is an example of which element of argument?
The image of the serpent permeates most myths. Campbell acknowledges that the serpent symbolizes different ideas depending on the culture, but claims that in all cultures the serpent "represents the primary function of life, mainly eating." Consider what the serpent can symbolically consume as well. This is grounds for Campbell's claim that life and death are connected in all cultures. Campbell states, "Life lives by killing and eating itself, casting off death and being reborn."
Campbell presents a historical explanation as grounds to support his idea that the story of Genesis uses the snake as a negative symbol. Campbell believes this use in unusual. This explanation is an example of
Remember from chapter one when Campbell discusses his idea of consciousness? He explained that it was not associated with thinking or the brain but was equivalent to energy. Campbell also discusses the idea of transcending our plane of existence to a plane that is beyond "names and forms." This is a simplified explanation of what Campbell believes existed before the Christian belief of the fall and exit from the Garden of Eden. The video clip below is a cartoon portrayal of the fall of Adam and Eve. (This annotation contains a video)
According to Moyers, "the only way a human being can try to grope with this immense idea [of God is] to assign it a language that he or she understands." But Campbell claims that once people assign God a word, a God becomes a concept, and is assigned a gender, it demonstrates how people do not understand what God is. This is an example of
The motif of "The One Forbidden Thing" is a part of folk tales and creation myths. This is an important motif because in most creation myths, the character's desire to have the one forbidden thing leads to the character's undoing. How do you think fear plays a role in the character's desire? Do you think there is a reason so many creation myths contain this element?
Campbell argues that one reason cross-cultural myths have similar characteristics is the result of archetypes. Archetypes are either biological or biographical models for behavior. What is the second reason Campbell provides for this "problem of the similarity of myths"?
Campbell claims that myths or stories told during certain times of the year were not simply "entertainment stories." These myths provided an explanation as to why humanity has been divided from the Gods and provides a guide with how to transcend the physical plane of existence to truly understand the divinity. This supports the overall claim of the chapter that myth develops an inward journey of the individual.
According to Campbell, myths dictate that human beings spend their life on a journey. On this journey there is self-discovery and a search for unity. Consider the central claim of the text: there are no modern myths. What does this imply about modern human beings? Use two pieces of textual evidence to support your answer.
The highlighted passage is a prime example of a rebuttal. Campbell acknowledges that all myths are "true in different senses" and that myths and the wisdom they impart is "related to a specific culture at a specific time." This recognizes the limitations of stating all myths are one hundred percent true. This statement could polarize his audience, but instead he discusses the myths as a "harmonizing force."
What do you think would be Campbell's explanation as to what caused a shift from natural religions to sociological religions?
Campbell asserts that we are all to "wake up to the Christ or Buddha consciousness within us." This supports his idea about myth helping individuals "journey inward." Campbell also admits that this notion is "blasphemy in the normal way of Christian thinking." This is important in terms of audience. When a scholar polarizes or alienates his audience, fewer people are apt to agree with his point.
Campbell believes that the ideas of reincarnation and Heaven are all metaphorical in order to
Campbell believes that folk tales are different from myths in that folk tales are for entertainment and myths are for spiritual growth and instruction. Myths are able to lead people inward and ground civilizations. Folk tales are stories passed on from generation to generation and may include fairy tales and fables. Do you agree that fairy tales, folk tales, and fables are for pure enjoyment? The ABC show Once Upon a Time is considered a modern fairytale. Watch the clip below from the "sneak peek" reel for the DVD release of season one of the series. After viewing the clip, consider Campbell's assertion that folk tales and stories like them are solely for enjoyment. (This annotation contains a video)
Moyers' interview with Campbell takes place in 1988. At that time, Campbell believes that the lack of myths in modern society is the result of a number of factors and one is that priests are not shamans of the modern world. Moyers agrees and adds that they are not experiencing the world as most do and cannot convey the experience "in the best way [they] can with images." Campbell adds, "Our thinking is largely discursive, verbal, and linear." Do you think that society has changed since this interview? With the advent of reality television, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, and other media sharing apps and sites, do you think we are still a mostly verbal society? Use specific examples from your life to support your conclusions.
The idea of transcendence is complex and difficult to understand. Simply put, a transcendent is something that is beyond everything you already know. This differs from concepts and categories. Concepts and categories are ideas or things that fit within what we already know. Basically Campbell is trying to say that people meditate in order to be freed from the limitations of time and space.
Campbell tells the story of the Indras as grounds for his claim that God is "the ultimate mystery of being is beyond thinking." What does the young boy in the story convey to the Indras?
The myth of the Indra ends with the Indra accepting his job in life and embracing the role he plays. Campbell asserts that this myth exemplifies the idea of free will or choice. This is part of the individual journey.
A belief in the Zoroastrianism religion is an example of duality. Followers believe that there cannot be a good without an evil. In order to appreciate the good, one must accept the evil and acknowledge its existence. Campbell uses this idea to support his claim that in order to "say yes to life" you must accept the sorrow in the form of temporality. The link below has more information about Zoroastrianism and duality. (This annotation contains a link)
Campbell presents the ideas of opposites and duality in order to convey
Campbell supports many of his claims with myths as grounds that illustrate his point. The myth of Shiva and the lean monster illustrates Campbell's claim that man cannot expect to eliminate elements of life that one does not find pleasurable or useful. Campbell states, "You've got to say yes to this miracle of life as it is, not on the condition that it follows your rules." This reiterates his point that to accept life is to accept sorrow.
Revisit the first page of the chapter and reconsider the title: The Journey Inward. How do you think the journey inward can help you appreciate the "here and now" and accept all aspects of the life you live? Do you think that Campbell has demonstrated how myths can help you along this journey?
III: The First Storytellers
Campbell's chapters may be read as self-contained units but may also be read in conjunction with one another. The previous chapter "The Journey Inward," prepares you to read about "The First Storytellers." From the italicized text, you learn that the shaman descends into an "inward darkness" in order to elicit cultural myths. Campbell asserts that the "same must lie within ourselves."
Campbell's central claim is that there are not modern myths. A secondary claim he makes is that "ancient myths were designed to harmonize the mind and the body." What can you infer about modern society based on Campbell's secondary claim?
Which is an appropriate metaphor for Campbell's feelings about death and dying?
According to Campbell, the idea of death and myth are intertwined because dealing with death and attempting to understand death were the source of fodder for the first myths. Campbell explains how death was significant to the earliest humans based on the elements found within the burial sites. However, he does not attempt to surmise what the sacrifices represented because "that is dangerous." By not "extrapolating backward" Campbell preserves his argument.
How does hunting and killing an animal differ in hunting societies than in our society? Use examples from Campbell's text and current texts (such as newspaper or magazine articles) to support your conclusions.
According to Campbell, the myths provide the hunting cultures with a spiritual cleansing after killing an animal. The myths delineate a connection between man and animal and nature. The justification for the kill is the cyclical nature of life. In order to survive one must kill and eat life. As a result, the hunter reveres the prey and do not simply exert his dominance over it. Consider the elements of storytelling that Campbell reveals in this chapter so far: storytelling emerges from man's dealings with death; the death of loved ones and now the death of the animals.
Campbell includes the examples of the ritual of the hunter about to go out on a kill and the Japanese warrior to convey that these hunters do not hunt
Campbell consistently utilizes myths as grounds to support his secondary claims throughout the text. Do you think that this practice validates his central claims that myths are metaphors that serve a didactic, spiritual, and moral purpose?
The buffalo myth of the Blackfoot tribe illustrates
There is a connection between the hunting societies and their reverence for the animals they hunt. The hunters do not hunt for pleasure but for survival, so they praise and honor the animal that gives them life. When Campbell discusses the cave dwelling paintings that depict this reverence, he contemplates whether the beauty of the paintings was intentional or simply captured the beauty of the beasts.
Campbell compares the "anthropomorphic" images in cathedrals to the animal images in the caves in order to convey
There is a connection between the hunting societies' animal myths and Campbell's central argument. In the hunting cultures, there was an initiation ritual where a boy would leave his home, go on a hunt, and return a man. This would involve other elements beyond a hunt, but it was a physical as well as spiritual journey. Campbell contends that we have nothing like this in our society. There are not initiation rituals or guidelines to adhere to when becoming an adult. Campbell believes that people in modern society tend to view movies as a guide and a ritual to becoming an adult. He contends the problem with this media is that movies "are made simply to make money." They do not take into consideration a cultural impact or effect. Do you agree with this idea? Consider television shows like Dexter that glorify the crimes and life of a serial killer. Do you think this could impact an individual's actions and beliefs? The link below is to a story from a September episode of Dateline NBC. A man was inspired by the television show Dexter and decided to become a serial killer. (This annotation contains a link)
According to Campbell, what is the difference between the male initiation to adulthood and the female initiation to adulthood?
Moyers suggests that the difference between ancient culture's emphasis on the community and modern society's "steadily widening separation of the self from society" is a possible reason for the absence of modern myth. In Ayn Rand's novella Anthem, Rand explores the loss of self in culture by presenting a futuristic society that operates as a single unit. Though the text is set in the future, the communal society operates without technology. It took the society ten years to adopt the use of the candle. Singular pronouns are not used and individual thoughts and ideas are banned. The text focuses on one character, Prometheus, and his conflict with this society. Smarter and more intelligent than his assigned role, Prometheus begins to operate outside of the confines of his assigned role. Ultimately, he must leave this society and readopt personal pronouns and embrace the idea of ego. Rand's text illustrates the need for individuality in order for society to develop and flourish. This is the opposite of what Campbell describes of ancient cultures. You can find more information about Anthem by clicking on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Campbell states that "people respond to the environment" "but now we have a tradition that doesn't respond to the environment." Do you agree with this statement? Identify at least three instances in your life where people adapt the environment to their needs. What impact do the adaptations have on the environment and its inhabitants?
Campbell believes that the artists of modern day are myth makers because they capture the rituals and are able to capture elements of the human experience in a way that others cannot. Do you agree with Campbell? Do you think that myths can only emerge from artists and poets?
Campbell explains that a similar characteristic among all storytellers is an ecstatic experience as the storyteller transverses "through the earth to the realm of mythological imagery, to God, to the seat of power." Aside from a spiritual or supernatural reason for this emotional outburst, what is another possible explanation for this experience?
Quiz #1: Chapters 1-3
IV: Sacrifice and Bliss
What is the difference between participating in the landscape and adapting the landscape? How does the difference between the two ideas impact the creation of myths? Use textual evidence to support your response.
The title of the chapter is "Sacrifice and Bliss." Consider the recommendations Campbell makes in order to "follow your bliss" or truly live your life to the fullest. He refers to the Sioux Indian who addresses the four navigational points on a compass to acknowledge his place in the world. He also discusses the idea of a sacred place where people's "temporal walls may dissolve to reveal a wonder." This place is about you as an individual and does not allow the outer world to penetrate the sanctity of it. The idea of the Sioux and the sacred place may seem to be incongruent, but as you read, Campbell will explain how they both work in coordination to help you achieve your bliss.
Campbell explains that there is a difference between the former civilizations' relationship to the land and our relationship with the land. What is the key difference?
Campbell includes the examples of the cultures of ancient Iceland, Egypt, and the cathedral at Chartres in order to demonstrate
Campbell admits he visits the parish at Chartres (see the image below) because it reminds him of a time when "spiritual principals informed society." However he is not drawn to the cathedral for nostalgic reasons. He considers it "a place for meditation." This is an example of a sacred space. Because this is a transcript of a dialogue, the warrant does not need to be inferred because Moyers asks Campbell to clarify. Campbell's claim is that myth dictates humanity's morality and values. The grounds are the sacred and spirituality of the cathedral provides Campbell a place to meditate. The warrant or the inference you can make based on the grounds and claim is Campbell's visits to the cathedral are symbolic of the purpose of myth. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Campbell mean when he says, "The idea of the supernatural as being something over and above the natural is a killing idea"?
As you read, remember to refer back to the title of the chapter to help give you some guidance about the structure of Campbell's argument. The chapter is about sacrifice and bliss. Campbell is explaining how myths helped to lead people to "follow their bliss" or to follow their inner purpose and not an externally dictated function. He denotes a difference between shamans and priests in society in order to differentiate between those whose "authority comes out of a psychological experience, not a social ordination." Through ritual, the shaman is "bringing the inner experience into the outer life of the people themselves." Do you agree with Campbell? Do you believe that modern day priests and their contemporaries are unable to elicit the inner experience from their parishes?
According to Campbell, how does environment impact a culture's myth and belief system?
Campbell outlines the different "approaches to myth" in order to illustrate the symbolic and not literal significance of myth. As cultures develop and change, their myths and the emphasis on certain elements of their spirituality also evolve.
With the advent of agrarian culture, there is a shift in the emphasis from revering death to revering sacrifice. This is derived from agricultural practices such as the need to prune in order to stimulate growth and new life. This idea is an example of which element of Campbell's argument?
Based on your answer to the previous question, what is Campbell illustrating about the dynamic between sacrifice and bliss? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Campbell is amazed by the striking similarities between cultural myths. In terms of Campbell's argument, this can be explained by the metaphorical significance of the myths and the need for humans to explain their origins based on their environment. Are there any other reasons for these similarities? Do you think that Campbell's argument is weakened by not exploring the possibility of an existence in a higher authority?
The story of Cain and Abel is interpreted by Campbell to represent the two cultural traditions of hunting and farming. The story has also been interpreted by other scholars to represent the human condition because it details the first murder in the Bible. The video clip from Mysteries of the Bible is a depiction of the story of Cain and Abel. Though the clip is forty-five minutes long, you only need to view the first five minutes of the clip. (This annotation contains a video)
The myths Campbell uses to illustrate his claim that there is conflict between the hunter and the agricultural culture have another common motif: twin or two sons born to a mother. These sons have a conflict that results in the destruction of one. Below is the summary of the creation myth of Rome about twin sons Romulus and Remus. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the examples Campbell uses and the legend of Romulus and Remus, can you identify another motif that these myths have in common? Based on your interpretation of the myths, can you develop a possible rebuttal or response to Campbell's assertion that these myths metaphorically depict a movement from a hunting society to an agrarian society? Use textual evidence from the myths and your knowledge of history to support your conclusions.
According to Campbell, what do the sacrificial myths and rituals symbolize?
According to Campbell, there is a connection between the ideas discussed in the previous chapters (transcendence, the duality of humanity, and the ability of the artist to create myths) and the dynamic between sacrifice and bliss. All of the myths depict a balance and relationship between death and life; "they are two aspects of the same thing, which is being, becoming." This also reinforces Campbell's claim that myths help people accept suffering as a part of life.
When Campbell identifies similar themes and motifs about the balance of death and life in myths from various cultures and religions, he provides grounds for which of his claims?
Campbell states, "The god of death is at the same time the lord of sex." When he uses the term sex, he is referring to the idea of procreation and not the modern connotation of explicit and overt sexual images. This statement supports the idea that there is a connection between death and life and sacrifice and bliss.
Campbell uses Schopenhauer's theory that a person is willing to sacrifice his or herself in a moment of crisis in order to support which claim?
Campbell's argument may seem a bit confusing here because there is a convergence of a few ideas into one. The overall claim that Campbell makes in this chapter is that there is cycle of life and death, loss and gain, and suffering and pleasure. These are necessary elements to life. One begets the other. In order to support this claim, Campbell utilizes studies, myths, and texts such as The Divine Comedy. As Campbell explores sacrifice and suffering in myth, he explores the idea of the hero as well. These two ideas are connected because the hero accepts his or her personal sacrifice for the greater good. The question that Campbell proposes or explores through Jesus Christ's personal sacrifice is "Why do figures like Christ sacrifice themselves?" Is it out of penance, redemption, or to repay a debt? The next chapter examines the hero and his or her role in myth in more detail.
According to Campbell, which act demonstrates the connection between sacrifice and bliss?
Campbell interprets the "labyrinth motif" in myths to mean that if you have faith you will discover the "spiritual values" of the religion or culture. This reiterates the idea that to experience bliss, you must also experience some type of strife. One does not exist without the other. This is referenced in chapter three when Campbell discusses Zoroastrianism.
Which is an appropriate synonym for the term compassion?
As you read the text, keep in mind the central claim: myths do not exist in the modern world. Moyers asks Campbell how modern society can find congruency between science, theology, and the mystic belief. He is asking Campbell to connect the evidence he presents about sacrifice and suffering and how it supports his central claim. Campbell believes that one of the reasons that the modern society cannot accept this idea is because of democracy. This system works by accepting the majority as the truth. Anything that deviates from the majority rule will be rejected. Campbell's examples of Jesus Christ and the Sufi mystic both exemplify the belief in the individual experience with the spirit. For more information about the Sufi mystic's beliefs, please see the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
The belief in the wheel of fortune is still prevalent today. People believe that they cannot have it all and that there is chance or luck associated with their existence. Consider the slogan for the various state lotteries: "Hey, you never know," "Someone's gotta win," "Gotta be in it to win it," and "Feelin' Lucky?" Campbell is arguing that in order to follow your bliss, you must be on the hub or in the center of the wheel because the wealth and the accolades the fortune will bring you won't matter if you are content.
Consider Campbell's argument about following your bliss and the evidence he presents. Are you like the young man in Babbitt who spent his life doing what made others happy? Do you strive to achieve societal goals rather than your own? Or do you reside in the hub of the wheel of fortune and "recognize your own depth"? Use personal experiences to support your position.
After the Wall Street Crash of 1929,Campbell didn't have a job for five years. He describes those five years as "a great time for me" because "I didn't feel poor, I just felt that I didn't have any money." Based on Campbell's arguments about following your bliss, what would Campbell say is the difference between feeling poor and not having money?
In other areas of the text, Campbell polarizes his audience because he focuses on the mythological interpretations of religious texts. When he discusses Heaven in comparison with bliss on Earth, he does not have the same effect on his audience because he does not deny the existence of Heaven. He states the experiences are completely different because Heaven is similar to the idea of transcendence where "you won't get your own experience at all." Heaven is beyond description.
Campbell argues that "if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment [of the waters of eternal life], that life within you, all the time." Can you think of an example that invalidates Campbell's claim? Do you think that Campbell's claim is not realistic considering the society we live in? State at least one contradiction to his argument. Support your rebuttal with at least three examples from literature, film, television, or society.
V: The Hero’s Adventure
Campbell wrote another text titled The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This text is part of George Lucas' inspiration for the Star Wars films. You do not have to read the text to understand his argument, but if you are interested in Campbell's interpretation of the hero, a link to the the Joseph Campbell Foundation website with the textual summary is provided below. (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following chapters connects with Moyer's conclusion that all individuals partake in an inward heroic journey?
There is a text titled How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster where he devotes an entire chapter to the idea of a quest. In literature, a quest or journey is usually symbolic of an educational journey a person must take to learn more about themselves. The quest is presented as one task, but throughout the journey the real reason for going on the journey is revealed. This is demonstrated throughout hero myths. The hero begins his or her journey and may be taken off-course through a series of trials and tribulations. The hero may even fail to achieve his or her initial goal, but in the end succeeds in a greater goal (this may be internal or external). Foster also claims that often times in literature, the hero is "marked for greatness." Foster cites, "Vladimir Propp, in his landmark study of folktales back in the 1920s, Morphology of the Folktale" to support this conclusion that in folktales, "the hero is marked in some way. He may be scarred, wounded, or born with a short leg, but he bears some mark that sets him apart." Consider modern heroic figures: Superman, Harry Potter, X-Men, and even those heroes with above average intelligence or courage like Batman or Ironman. Do you think this is congruent with Campbell's interpretation of the hero?
Campbell argues that Napoleon may be considered a hero by the French because he expanded the French borders. But from an outsider's perspective "Napoleon's ravaging of Europe was horrific." Campbell includes this example in order to suggest
One of the central claims in Campbell's text, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is that the idea of a hero is a universal motif, theme, and symbol. Campbell contends that all heroes are essentially the same on the most basic level. Campbell reiterates this idea in this chapter. He uses the example of the myths about the development of fire are written because they serve to "evaluate the fire, its importance to us, and to say something about what has set man apart from beasts." The myths about heroes serve a universal function as well. Campbell states, "All these different mythologies give us the same essential quest."
Why does Campbell include the quotation, "Lead us not into temptation"?
Do you think social media contributes to what Campbell refers to as "surrogate involvement"? How does the lack of involvement and the reduction of our free will play a role in the lack of myth? Does it make myth ineffectual or unnecessary?
Campbell describes the modern world as impotent. What is an appropriate synonym to capture Campbell's characterization?
The story of Icarus is about a boy and his father who are able to fly with the invention of wings to attached by wax. Icarus does not obey his father and flies too close to the sun causing his demise. The story is a lesson about ego and adolescence. Campbell tells the story to demonstrate the effectiveness of technology. It is not the technology that fails humans, it is the humans that fail technology. Below is an image of Icarus and his father.
Campbell argues that myth and science are not mutually exclusive of one another. He uses the example of a physicist looking at subatomic particles under a microscope. He states that myths celebrate that energy. What evidence could Campbell include to help strengthen and support this claim?
John Lennon was the singer and guitar player for The Beatles. The band arrived in the United States in 1964 to the same enthusiasm and hype that someone like Justin Bieber receives today. The Beatles were the original "boy band" but managed to evolve beyond the connotation of the label. They continued to produce hit albums through the 1970's. On December 8, 1980 John Lennon was shot and killed outside of his apartment in the Dakota building in New York City. His death is still memorialized annually in Central Park at the Strawberry Fields marker. Below is an image of the memorial. (This annotation contains an image)
Campbell's definition of hero includes those characters who have tried and failed or who have garnered pity and empathy from the audience. What is the literary term for this type if character?
A prime example of a "hero that goes around slaying monsters" is Beowulf. The epic poem may be interpreted as a metaphor for a society struggling with a devastating issue symbolized by Grendel. Other interpretations present the journey of Beowulf slaying Grendel as a Christian epic. It is a metaphor for the overcoming of evil and the adaptation of Christ as the savior. Consider this as you read: the meaning of a myth depends on a number of factors and one of which is the interpretation. If the scholar interpreting the text has a bias, that bias may impact the interpretation of the text. Do you think Campbell has any biases?
According to Campbell, heroes share all of the following qualities except
Do you agree with Campbell's distinction between fairytale and myth? Are fairytales only for children? Reread his definition of the four functions of myth from chapter one. Can you think of any fairytales that perform the same function of myth in society?
Campbell asserts that as children mature, they need a "sturdier mythology." He includes an anecdote about a conversation between a professor and student. The student does not understand a concept in the lecture and the professor responds, "That is not for you to get darling!" Based on the grounds, all of the following statements are cause for dissection with Campbell's argument except
Campbell believes the spiritual journey of the individual is still a relevant myth for today. Reread the example of the three temptations of Christ. Do you agree with Campbell's assessment? In terms of man's temporal journey, what do you think myths need to address?
Campbell states that desire and fear "are the two emotions by which all life in the world is governed." What is the term for a widely accepted idea?
What does Campbell's statement, "religion turns poetry into prose" suggest?
Campbell believes that myth provides a stabilizer for the humanity's ego. Myth provides the answers and the tools to help people transition from youth to adulthood. As young people, we mistakenly believe that we are able to do this without assistance. This is what Campbell views as our egos at work and what humanity mistakes for a consciousness and awareness.
Campbell believes that the best teachers identify their students' strengths and weakness and then cater to their individual needs and styles. Do you agree with Campbell? In your own experiences as a student, what do you believe are qualities of a good teacher? Use the standards Campbell sets forth to as parameters for your qualities.
Campbell believes that the Star Wars films resonate with the youth of the time because the film deals with principals and not historical or actual events. This allows the themes of the film to transcend a particular era. The film also appeals to the youth because it requires the protagonist to look inward and trust his instincts. This is a quality many adolescents do naturally. They lead with their emotions and not their rationality. Keep in mind that Lucas was influenced and inspired by Campbell's interpretation of myth. This is why the Star Wars' success is an important piece of grounds to support Campbell's claims. It illustrates how myths can impact a culture.
There is a scene from The Empire Strikes Back where Yoda trains Luke Skywalker in the force. When Luke tries to raise his X-Wing fighter unsuccessfully, Yoda tells Luke "You must unlearn what you have learned," and "Do. Or do not. There is no try." Yoda informs him, "Size matters not" and that Luke must feel the force around him in order to do what Luke deems the impossible. This is an example of a "psychological as well as a physiological technique." The video clip below is of this scene. (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted excerpt is an example of which element of argument?
Campbell believes that myths dictate the external by way of the internal. He argues that myths serve as inspiration to pursue an individual's happiness and by doing so serves humanity as a whole.
According to Campbell, what does the dragon psychologically symbolize?
Campbell contrasts the Western and Eastern views of the role of the individual. By doing this, Campbell acknowledges the limitations of his argument. His belief that the individual's contribution to the world will be a product of his or her "own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities" limited by culture.
Campbell includes the story of Sir Gawain the the Green Knight in order to reiterate
Campbell describes the period of youth and adolescence as the "human animal" and adulthood as "civilized human being." Do you agree with this classification?
Campbell argues that "myth formulates things for you." He believes that myths provide the timeframe and rituals to help transition the youth of a society into an adult in the society. What is an example of a limitation to this formulation?
Remember this chapter is about the hero's adventure. The adventure is what creates or defines the individual as the hero. The adventure or journey to discover what makes you happy, helps to transform you into a hero. You may not be a hero on a large scale, but you will have overcome your personal limitations to be an evolved person. Campbell illustrates this through conventional hero myths such as the Odyssey, Star Wars, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but he also incorporates unconventional myths, such as the denial of the suitors tales, to illustrate how the pursuit of an individual's happiness can transform the person.
Based on Campbell's interpretation and examples, what is the danger to "following your bliss"?
Campbell shares his story of his friend who was chosen at a young age to study in the ways of the Tibetan monks. His path was seemingly mapped out for him and is ultimately destroyed when the Tibetan monks are forced from China to India. There his friend has a choice: to continue on his path as a monk or live life as an "average" person. His friend ultimately makes a choice. He chooses a difficult journey, but Campbell believes that because he is following his bliss, he is a living example of the power of religious compassion. This story supports Campbell's claim that the individual's pursuit of happiness can have a positive impact on society as a whole.
What is your initial reaction to Campbell's anecdote about his friend who was transformed by Campbell's assertion that she was the cause of her own suffering? Think back to a time when you were suffering from a physical ailment. How would you have reacted if the doctor told you that "you did it to yourself"? Now consider what Campbell is trying to convey to you about acceptance of suffering. He is not literally blaming his friend for her ailment, but he is telling her that she needs to accept her burden so she can move on with her life. You cannot expect life to be perfect; you must accept it for what it truly is and not what you imagine it will be.
Campbell includes the description of the psychological religion of Buddhism in order to support which claim?
Campbell reiterates the idea that artists are the only members of modern society that are able to see and capture "illumination" in life. Consider this argument and what talented artists are able to capture in a painting or photograph versus what the average person captures in a selfie.
Quiz #2: Chapters 4 & 5
VI: The Gift of the Goddess
According to Campbell, Western religions use the image of a man as god because their societies are patriarchal. A society that is matriarchal defers to a goddess to represent their deity.
What appeal does Campbell give for the lack of a "mother quest" in myth?
Campbell reiterates the impact of environment on the creation of myth. For communities that relied on agriculture to provide sustenance for the community, they worshipped a goddess. Women were associated with the fertile land.
Why does Campbell disagree with the idea that "Newton kill[ed] myth"?
As the hunting societies conquered the agrarian societies, the cultural beliefs yielded to the dominate force. This is an example of environment shaping cultural beliefs and myth.
In their dialogue, Moyers concludes that the males who dominated the motifs and themes excluded women. Campbell corrects him and says, "I think its a little too strong because there were great female saints." The phrase "little too strong" is an example of a
Deuteronomy refers to the section of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible that recounts Moses speeches to the Israelites. In his first speech, Moses outlines the history of the Israelites and states laws to which they must adhere (The Ten Commandments), the second speech refers to the allegiance and belief in one God, and the third speech gives the Israelites faith and guidance that they will one day return to their land.
Campbell claims that the only gospel you will find record of a virgin birth is in the Gospel According to Luke because Luke was Greek. This implies that
Campbell shares the Indian belief about the four centers of the human being in order to illustrate the metaphorical significance of the virgin birth motif in myth. The virgin birth symbolizes the acknowledgement and recognition of suffering in another. Compassion is the core of humanity. This idea is reiterated from Chapter Four: Sacrifice and Bliss.
The image below is of Isis and Horus on the left and Mary and Jesus on the left. This is what Campbell is referring to as the "antique model for the Madonna." (This annotation contains an image)
Campbell explains that in the Isis myth the motif of "out of death comes life" is expressed. Do you think the same could be said of the story of Jesus Christ and his virgin birth? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
Campbell explains the reverence for the female as the one who gives life and gives the gift of rebirth. Campbell also believes that myth does not exist in modern society. What warrant can you make based on these two ideas?
Campbell describes the ultimate being as "from that which is beyond male and female." What does this description imply?
Does this set of questions sound familiar? Go back to chapter one and find the annotations that refer to Campbell's beliefs about the modern myth.
Campbell uses imagery to illustrate the individual's relationship with the universe. He tells Moyers that once you consider the magnitude of the universe, "you realize how really important you are, you know - one little microbit in that great magnitude." Campbell makes this comparison to imply
VII: Tales of Love and Marriage
Troubadours were writers and singers of poetry in the Middle Ages. Troubadours focused on the idea of courtly love. Based on the chivalry code, the courtly love tradition emphasizes the idea of falling in love at first sight and by appearances. In the courtly love tradition, most of the lovers never actually speak to one another because the love will be destroyed by the reality of the situation. Click on the link below to read the "rules" of courtly love. (This annotation contains a link)
Campbell interprets the courtly love expressed by the troubadours as "amor" which is "something personal" rather than sexual desire or spiritual compassion. Based on the "rules" for courtly love, do you agree or disagree with this statement? List at least three rules that support your argument.
Campbell is an authority on myth. It is important to consult other authorities for their interpretations of the courtly love tradition. Campbell claims that the Catholic church was opposed to the ideas of the troubadours because they promoted the "individual experience" versus the guided experience the church promoted. The first rule of courtly love is "marriage should not be a deterrent to love." Can you think of any other reasons why the church may not approve of the courtly love ideal?
The basis of Campbell's argument about the troubadours is that they promoted the idea of choice and free will in marriage. If you extrapolate on that idea, why would the Catholic church be threatened by the courtly love ideal?
Campbell believes that the story of Tristan and Isolde exemplifies the idea of following your bliss. Do you agree? Tristan falls in love with Isolde as the result of a potion (a metaphor for being spellbound by her beauty and appearance). They do not know one another at all. How is their union any different from an arranged marriage? Below is the image from the movie made in 2006. Note the tag line before the title of the film. (This annotation contains an image)
Shakespeare's sonnets are considered the response to the courtly love tradition. His sonnets define a different type of true love that is not based on appearance but the "marriage of true minds." Read Sonnet 116 (the link provided below). (This annotation contains a link)
Using evidence from the text, compare and contrast the themes and depiction of love in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 and the courtly love ideas.
Campbell's claim that "society must cultivate the individual" and the individual must follow his or her bliss is qualified. Campbell does not believe that the individual should make these decisions with wild abandon but walk "the razor's edge." This is a reiteration of the ideas expressed in previous chapters that humans beings must find a balance and an accord with striving for individual happiness and functioning within society.
According to Campbell, women in the courtly love tradition were in a place of power because they were pursued and held in high regard. This afforded women to test their suitors and find one that "had a gentle heart." Which term best describes a person with a "gentle heart"?
Do you believe that you fall in love through the eyes? Can you think of twenty-first century examples of industries that capitalize on this idea? Can you find any statistics that demonstrate the potential issues with falling in love through the eyes?
The Holy Grail is the cup used in the Last Supper. During Catholic communion, parishioners drink wine that symbolizes the blood of Christ from a chalice. In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is forced to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis do in order to prevent them from using its healing powers to dominate the world. The meaning of the Grail is derived from a combination of Celtic myth and Christian lore.
According to Campbell, how do the ideas of nature and spirit "yearning for each other" and the troubadour tradition relate to one another?
Based on the highlighted passage, do you think Campbell is expressing his own political views about war, or is he asking a rhetorical question in order to provoke thought?
Abbot Joachim of Flora's works were highly influential in the reshaping of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. After working for the archbishop, Joachim went on a pilgrimage and had a profound experience that led to his conversion to Catholicism. After living like a hermit for several years, he became a monk and then an Abbott. His ultimate vision for the church was a movement of leadership from the church institution to the brotherhood. For more information about Abbot Joachim of Flora, please click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
In order to follow Campbell's logic, you must agree with his interpretation of the troubadour tradition. Do you think there is any other source for the union of souls as a symbol of true love? If there is, what happens to Campbell's argument?
The union of marriage is a symbol for the balance that is achieved when two people are in love. This idea of a balance is repeated throughout the text. The literary term for an idea or an image that is reiterated throughout a literary work is
The story of Tiresias illustrates how a marriage is supposed to operate. (You may also remember Tiresias from Oedipus Rex. He was the blind prophet who told Oedipus his fate.)
According to Campbell, the idea of marital love does not exist in myth. This is because prior to the courtly love ideal and the Elizabethan love sonnets, marriage existed to serve society. This may be why ancient myths do not apply to modern society. How do you think the modern myth would depict love?
When Campbell discusses the idea of love in literature, it is associated with pain. This supports which of Campbell's claims?
If you notice, the final chapters of the text incorporate all of the previous chapters ideas and beliefs into one argument. This demonstrates how Campbell develops his ideas through examples and dialogue, and it also illustrates the themes, motifs, and symbols in myths are interconnected. This is demonstrated when Moyers states, "Lord, teach me to let go" in response to Campbell's explanation about the power of love. This idea of "letting go" is explored in chapter five.
VIII: Masks of Eternity
Read the italicized text carefully. Is this how we can create new modern myths?
Campbell claims that he does not have faith, but does have experience. What is the difference between faith and experience? What does experience provide that faith does not?
Similar to Campbell's belief about myths as metaphorical representations of a culture's beliefs, he believes that prayer is a form of meditation. He does not indicate that he values the words in the prayer so much as the act of praying.
According to Campbell, what is the greatest achievement a person can attain?
Moyers asks an appropriate question about the insular nature of taking a journey inward. There is a risk of having a "distorted view of oneself and the world." Once again, Moyers' interjections serve as the rebuttal to the argument.
Based on the highlighted passage, which quality do you think Campbell admires most about the Jesus depicted in the gospels?
Can you find a fault in the interpretation of the conversation Campbell has with a priest? What additional evidence could Campbell use to support his interpretation? (Hint: Authority, Testimony, Statistics, Logic) Use textual evidence to support your response.
Throughout the text, Campbell's central claim is that myths (in all forms) are metaphorical. He continues to develop this argument through the etymology of the term religion. Based on his analysis of the term, what do you think religion means?
According to Campbell, the circle is a symbol for all of the following ideas except
Below is an image of a mandala. It is ornate which is to be expected if it symbolizes the cosmic order. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Campbell refer to the metaphorical cauldron as "the vale of the world"?
Consider what Campbell says about the purpose of myth and the lessons the myths convey about the individual's life and purpose. Campbell states that ancient myths enforced the idea that "it's the giving and coming into being that counts," Is this still relative today? What would a modern myth have to address in order to be relevant?
Based on the context, the word prosaic most nearly means
Reread the passage about Joyce's definition of an epiphany. How does the idea of an epiphany play a role in Campbell's argument?
The term sublime means noble or majestic. Why does Campbell choose to use this adjective to describe such horrific scenes? What is he conveying about power through this description?
Campbell equates the passage of time with the temporal world and within the temporal world there is suffering. This reiterates the idea that by embracing life, you embrace suffering. Once you are willing to do this, you can actually enjoy life and follow your bliss.
Based on his analysis of the metaphysics of myth, Campbell argues that time
Moyers asks Campbell, "But if we can't describe God, if our language is not adequate, how is it that we build these buildings that are sublime? How do we create these works of art that reflect what artists think of God?" These are excellent questions. Campbell can be a little confusing because he does not always discuss life on the temporal plane. This abstract perspective is not congruent with the concrete means of conveying our feelings as a society.
Read the highlighted excerpt. Do you think that Campbell contradicts himself? Do you think he has demonstrated that life has a purpose? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
When Campbell says, "Eden is" he is implying that you should be living your life as if you were in Eden. According to Campbell, acceptance of suffering and following your bliss are the means to living in your Eden.
When Campbell tries to explain the meaning of "AUM," Moyers concludes, "The meaning is essentially wordless." Why is this statement ironic?
Quiz #3: Chapters 6-8