Art and Joseph Campbell

Discussion of Joseph Campbell's work with an emphasis on the personal creative impulse as well as the sociological role of the artist in today's global community.

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JamesN.
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Art and Joseph Campbell

Post by JamesN. » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:38 pm

I hope that this thread will help to serve as a good connection between Joseph Campbell and the Arts.

In the " The Hero's Journey " there is a moment that pays tribute to Joseph Campbell where in February 1985 he was awarded the " Medal of Honor for Literature " from the " National Arts Club " in New York where in acceptance he states: " that's what I was hoping for when I was writing, namely that I was giving people the key to the realm of the muses, which is where myth is. "

The Arts is such a broad palate from which to draw from that perhaps it might be of some benefit to explore it's various relationships and dimensions with Joseph Campbell's work and the vast variety of different connections that people have to their own individual journeys.

There have been different threads off and on over the years that have addressed many of the aspects concerned in the numerous disciplines; such as writing, music, painting, photography, and so on; but I think it might interesting to look at some of Joseph Campbell's themes and how they are reflected within this area and what he was trying to illuminate. Also I think it might be very helpful to approach some of this material from the individual point of view from our community or to say it another way: " what it means to them "; for if anything I think this had much to do with what Joe was trying to get at.

For me personally I am reminded that there have been several different time periods in the west; and particularly in relation to the US; that have been vehicles of change in the development of Art. If for instance you start with the " Renaissance " and move the various transitions up to the turn of the 20th century there are reflections in the change of social consciousness. But in relationship to the present I think it is from the development of Modern Art of Paris through the Beat period and the Hipster cultural shifts of the 1960's in the US that exhibits an " introspective and reflective change " in how social consciousness has been represented along with the rise of " Media ".

For me it would go without saying that much that my own personal experience and perspective has been impacted in a very intimate way by the subject matter dealt with in so many of these various art forms that utilize many of the more modern features as well as more the classical forms.

Diane Osbon's: " Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion " has been a tremendous resource for me personally in getting a sense of Joseph's thoughts concerning his points of view about the role that art plays within the human imagination and it's relationship as a vehicle for individual experience. There are certainly of course many other avenues within his work that serve this purpose; but this one in particularly spoke from what I felt was " Joseph's point of view " as opposed to an academic position; and that was a real help in getting a better understanding of what I was doing and where I was trying to get to.

In the larger scheme of things I don't think what Joe was saying was to go out and get some art and wait for : " the oracle to speak to you " as it were; but more along the lines of having a resource that can help one in the living and enjoyment of their life and as Carl Jung might say: " Finding one's own personal myth ". For in the foreground of " life's horror " there is also a purpose that art as a resource to help reconcile can serve that as Joe might put it: " reveal the sense of participating in a wonder ".

Some of the things I keep remembering that Joseph said was: " Art is the set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement "; " All we really want to do is dance " or that " Dance is the highest symbol of life itself ". Yet even others are: " The artist opens the forms of the work to transcendence "; or : Art is the transforming experience " and " The goal of life is rapture. Art is the way we experience it ". These are but a few.

I hope that anyone who has something they would like to share about their experience or thoughts of ( Joe and Art ) will feel free to express them here
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JamesN.
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Post by JamesN. » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:08 pm

I caught this quote on the homepage just now. Whether through conscious or subconscious awareness this to me is the same dimension in which Art communicates from:
Through a dialogue conducted with these inward forces through our dreams and through a study of myths, we can learn to know and come to terms with the greater horizon of our own deeper and wiser, inward self.


Joseph Campbell
Myths to LIve
What do I know? - Michael de Montaigne
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Post by JamesN. » Mon Feb 24, 2014 8:05 am

Here is a wonderful documentary about the lives of photographers Eugene Atget and Berenice Abbott; and how their chance meeting would change photography forever. ( Incidentally Joseph Campbell would have been in Paris during the years when much of this development took place. )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RMJA8PDGEU
What do I know? - Michael de Montaigne
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Post by JamesN. » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:15 pm

I think one of the aspects of Art that Joseph Campbell's work addresses is the inner dimension of human consciousness and what is driving us; ( of which as individuals we may or may not be totally aware ). And the illumination of it's message is recognized within our struggles to understand ourselves and find meaning within the lives we are living is the goal. This is the ground upon which Art and Myth meet. These two quotes taken from the homepage about some newly released material of Joseph Campbell point out this eternal dynamic from which these timeless mythical imperatives have been expressed. And although not directly referenced; this transcendent water-of-life from which myth and Art draw comes from the same well.
Lecture II.3.1 – Symbols of the Christian Faith

Why do we yearn? What is it we yearn for? It's for something that was never on land or sea. And this is a peculiar European romantic thing. And that is the fulfillment of this special intelligible potentiality, which is our own being and character. —Joseph Campbell
Lecture II.3.2 – Tarot & the Christian Myth

The wheel of fortune is usually represented as a revolving wheel with a person up here in victory, in triumph; a person here, on the way down—the depression, the crackup, the falling stock market. The person down here, in the abyss. The person here, on the way up. These are the four situations of fortune: falling fortune, the abyss, rising fortune, and triumph. You are not to identify yourself with your fortune. You must know the center. And this is usually held by a goddess, the goddess Fortuna who is the same as Lakśmi, the goddess of fortune that supports the kings in India. —Joseph Campbell


And although Apple has recently hijacked this quote of Walt Whitman's for one of their commercials; here also in this special clip from the movie: " Dead Poet's Society " is this understanding so profoundly portrayed:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS1esgRV4Rc
What do I know? - Michael de Montaigne
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Post by Andreas » Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:14 am

Hey James,

Really nice thread this one. Unfortunately like Campbell said: "we are all so engaged trying to achieve something that we forget what this thing is about." Something along these lines. Anyway I don't have much to contribute but I look forward to see what people have to say about this one. :)
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Post by JamesN. » Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:09 pm

Andreas wrote:Hey James,

Really nice thread this one. Unfortunately like Campbell said: "we are all so engaged trying to achieve something that we forget what this thing is about." Something along these lines. Anyway I don't have much to contribute but I look forward to see what people have to say about this one. :)
Andeas; you are most kind. I hope you will jump in at some point when you feel there is something you want to share.

I have been thinking about this thread for awhile and it occurs to me it should be pointed out that the term " Art " by it's very subjective nature can be interpreted in a huge variety of ways. Just the number of disciplines and applications alone can be difficult to define within a single parameter.

Here is Wikipedia's definition:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art

So with this in mind I thought it might be useful for purposes of this particular discussion to integrate at least some connection of Joseph Campbell's ideas while exploring the topic.

Some of the insights I found in Diane Osbon's book: " Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion " that I liked and found helpful were: " Art is a harmony parallel to nature "; and the idea of " Divinely superfluous beauty "; or put another way: ( " The artist opens the forms of the work to transcendence " ). And goes further with this understanding when he states: ( What I understand art to be, is the revealing power of maya; the production in music, in dance, in the visual arts, and in literature of such " divinely superfluous beauty," of objects for esthetic arrest which are of no practical use, but which opens up dimensions within. ) And Joseph summarizes this when he says: " I think that art and this knowledge of what art is can be the modern Western way to illumination. "

Now there are certainly other aspects covered within Joseph Campbell's insights; but his ability to interpret the interconnections within the various aspects of human culture and experience was what has helped me the most in my " ongoing " understanding and development. ( BTW my life is still a " work in progress "; as the saying goes. ) Not just the mechanics of craft; but what the cross-references of the renderings were representing in a larger mythological sense and where I was trying to get to. Their relevance has been incalculable to me in my own journey and efforts at understanding and living any kind of an attempt at an authentic life both as a musician and as a person.

As I am growing older and have lived through some of the tremendous changes in modern society that have taken place; such as the computer and the internet being integrated within modern life as well as so many other technological advances too numerous to mention; I think in a global sense this transcendent aspect Joe talked about will become even more important. The larger " multi-cultural " world now unfolding will make demands upon human beings to assimilate cross-references of information never before imagined; and the abilities to " connect-the-dots " so to speak will mean a great deal more in making sense of human existence; and the individual's ability to navigate both inner and outer world's of consciousness from their own native societies and the others with which they interact with will IMHO be critical. Art and Joe's work have a great deal to offer in such tasks that will be required; ( at least to me this seems to be the case ). One of the special aspects illuminated within the " Dead Poets Society " clip that Joe's work connects with that I think should be emphasized is what I would refer to as ( eternal human values ) and how across any geographical or cultural divide in any time period they run true. ( Also to be noted; I should probably include some of the Jungian aspects that he mentions in his work as well; but Cindy I think is more qualified to speak on this than I am. )


Cheers :)
What do I know? - Michael de Montaigne
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