Category: MythBlast

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The Sacredness of Rituals

“Individualism is perfectly fine if the individual realizes that the grandeur of his being is that of representing something,” writes Joseph Campbell in The Hero’s Journey. “Even representing a system of ideals and images...

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Temptations of Clarity

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius. William Blake, Proverbs of Hell The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy...

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The Boundary-Blurring Nature of Myth

This month in the MythBlast Series, we’re exploring the relationship of blurred boundaries to heroism. Anyone who has ever been in psychotherapy is likely to be familiar with the no-nonsense injunction to have clear,...

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The Rhythmic Cadence of Life

In this MythBlast, I want to contrast the words of the dancer Isadora Duncan (as quoted by Joseph Campbell in The Ecstasy of Being) with my own thoughts on rhythm. Rhythm in art and...

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Fools Rush In

In the first essay of his collection The Ecstasy of Being, “The Jubilee of Content and Form,” Joseph Campbell writes that after fairy tales and folklore were shoved to the wayside in favor of...

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When Mythology Meets Dance and Sounds

I first heard of the 11th-century bronze Shíva Naṭarāja statue in 1991, while watching Power of Myth—the television series that made Campbell famous in Brazil, at least to me and others of my generation....

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Heroic Fear, Foolishness, and Creative Ecstasy

To begin, I offer you two words:  Atychiphobia. Kakorrhaphiophobia.  Dive into them past the vague gloss of vowels and consonants as we are wont to do with unknown words; say them aloud, and you...

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When the Adventure is a Drag

The Joseph Campbell Foundation MythBlast Series has spent March musing about The Adventure and reading Campbell’s Pathways to Bliss which, let’s face it, sounds exciting: filled with presentiment, and descriptive of that happy flow...

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A Call to a Collective Adventure

In 1968, singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson tried to make a phone call and heard a sound familiar to anyone that remembers the age before cell phones. Beep, beep, beep, beep. The sound not only informed...

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Tossing the Golden Ball

Myths do not ground, they open. James Hillman In The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Campbell revealed the myth of the hero’s transformation and invited us to locate our lives in this myth. When...

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Changing Our Self-Perception As A Compassionate Deed For The World

Joseph Campbell reminds us in Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation: Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love – and I mean love, not lust – is the...

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The King Who Saved Himself From Being Saved

Heroism and Adventure, the theme of this month’s MythBlast Series essays, seem to me to be a linked pair. Reflexively, I think, we imagine adventure as a going out, an extension into the world,...

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The River Erdman

Jean Marion Erdman (Feb. 20, 1916 – May 4, 2020) was a dancer and avant-garde theatrical artist who was married to Joseph Campbell for 49 years until his death in 1987. In celebration of Erdman’s...

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Don’t Look Up: The Doomsday Dilettante

Despite all rumors to the contrary, Don’t Look Up is not about climate change (spoilers ahead). An incoming comet, being a purely natural phenomenon independent of human influence, would in fact be a bad...

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Missteps as a Redemptive Path to Destiny

In a crisis our life often feels out of control, as if we have lost our quintessentially human dignity of character. But how can we retain our dignity while also building the courage to...

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Cunneware’s Laugh: The Enticement of Delight

At first glance, the frivolous dilettante seems an unlikely aspect of the archetypal hero. In the outcome-driven culture that most of us inhabit, dilettantes are creatures of a certain derision: we see them as...

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Rocking New Year’s Eve

Welcome to another New Year, still in its childhood—a toddler beginning its adventure. Popular culture routinely portrays the New Year this way, as a Child watched over by a kindly and fatherly Old Year,...

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The Child of Symbolic Disguise

Although Joseph Campbell is often pegged as a partisan of Carl Jung, he begins The Hero With a Thousand Faces with a fundamental piece of psychoanalytic wisdom. Leaning on Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, Campbell...

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The Children of Myth and Pixar

In circles where myth is a topic of discussion, the name Disney has sometimes brought about unsympathetic commentary, and often for justifiable reasons. The perceived bastardization of the stories of Hans Christian Anderson and...

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“The Hero of Yesterday Becomes the Tyrant of Tomorrow”

In 2022, the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s MythBlast Series will take an in-depth, year-long look at the Hero. However, this exploration of heroism will be more than a simple reification of the themes Professor Campbell...

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Creative Mythology: The Choreographer and the Spectator

A theme behind Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God, Volume 4: Creative Mythology is the release of the mind to freedom through the creation of a living mythology. Artful dance is a superb example...

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Returning to the Void: The Sacred Dawn of Mythic History

We now enter the festivals of the Winter Solstice and celebrate the birth of the savior archetype, which in the Catholicism of Latin America is presented with the image of the Niño Dios (God...

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Myth-oh!-logies of Re-turning: or, Finnegan’s Awake Again

I should probably warn you about bad puns and purple prose inbound this week. This month’s theme is Return and Campbell spent a lot of time thinking about this topic, specifically in his analysis...