Campbell and Rumors of Anti-semitism

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Re: Macary-Campbell Essay

Post by mythopoet » Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:19 pm

Hi- This is with regards Maggie Macary's thoughts on the sticking issue. She examined the colonial and conscious movement of intent progessing from polytheism to monotheism to monoTHEism. Her essay does concern the mythic image of the late mythologer, Joe Campbell via her own re-picturing, which must now also lead back imagistically as does the image of Campbell in his day and in a ghost-way since "she" or her "say" doubles this 'late mythologer' motif!

Nonetheless, at the time she wrote the comment she was caught by what may have struck us here and stuck us here that now also has stuck us h'ere. This last is a poetic turning to indicate an interval between word and meaning where meaning something is suspended so something (a no thing...i.e. the image) can be worked and transcended. David L Miller will suggest at this critical juncture one keep in mind our deepest beliefs are already mythic and "fiction". Anima in opus works this way.

I was a close colleague of Dr. Macary and have permission from her family to return her essays/blogs on line under my banner (which is mythopoetry.com). If you send to my email address the title and publishing date for the essay of hers referred to by the poster doing so in this strand, I will do my best to locate it and republish it. I will also link the page to this strand and I will be happy to come back and post all this here the moment it has been accomplished.

All Best,
stephanie pope
mythopoetry.com

email [email protected]
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Post by noman » Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:49 am

Hello Stephanie,

I offer my condolences on the loss of your dear friend. And I know it must be bitter-sweet to handle her material – keeping her thought alive.

When I began to write my long post on this topic I remembered reading Dr. Macary’s essay. At the time I wasn’t able to find it but I did find this:
Joseph Campbell & Anti-Semitism
The Politics of the Matter


by Maggie Macary, PhD.

December 28, 2004

http://jmr.dk/mccary01.htm
If you can create a link to the entire essay simply post it here.

As I said in my long post – there are more exciting things to talk about concerning Campbell, the man, and his work. But this is a challenging topic and one that many people are interested in. I remember Dr Macary doing an excellent job of defending Campbell against what many feel is an outrageous charge.

Thank you,

- NoMan
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Re: A Monotheistic State of Mind

Post by mythopoet » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:57 am

Hello Once More-

We talked numerous times regarding the accusation of anti-semitism that surrounds the image of Joseph Campbell. One essay/blog is Maggie's "A Monotheistic State of Mind'. I have located that blog and will be republishing it at mythopoetry.com for you. There may be others, however; I note in her 2004 letter she felt this topic too large for one blog.

Maggie died on Easter Sunday, 2006. After she defended her dissertation in Novemeber, 2005, she wrote less new essay and recycled and reworked older material because she was already very ill. Whatever she wrote that pertains to things of interest to you will have been published between December, 2004 and December, 2005.

It is not difficult to interact with Maggie's work. When I do I am reminded how much my own life is gifted. This gift no longer lies here in the possible mourning. It has given way to the impossible one h'ere.


Many Blessings,
stephanie pope
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Post by bodhibliss » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:15 pm

Thanks, Stephanie, not just for the link, but for keeping Dr. Macary's memory, and her work, alive on the internet.

I only had the opportunity to meet and interact with Maggie via email, but was impressed by her passion and her prodigious output, and still miss her "daily arrows." Her death came as a shock, as her personal and public presence online proved so full of vitality, and her imagination and intellect both seemed boundless.

Her voice will be missed ...

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Re: Maggie, Mythology and the Heroic Venture

Post by mythopoet » Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:36 am

Dear BodhiBliss,

I discovered through my daily stats there were some searches for Maggie's essays around Campbell and the anti-semitic issue and these searches landed at mythopoetry.com. So I did a search of my own using the same keywords to discover who these bloggers were. At the same, time I turned over this strand and its discussion. Germaine to your sentiment regarding Dr. Macary's work, are many others.

Maggie believed in the power of the myth and in its call to venture into depth because she believed myth was the archetype of human cognition itself. She wrote,
"...if myth is the 'archetype of human cognition' then myth becomes the way humans comprehend the structures of life and mythology itself is no longer merely the logical, structured study of stories; it opens new possibilities about the study of myth in its cultural context as a critical way of seeing through cultural ideas and prejudices. Cultural Mythology, A Methodology
And also, "I define the study of mythology as the imaginative study of logic, the hidden mythos in the logos."

I discovered a second essay that may be of interest to folks here and intend to republish it through/to mythopoetry.com before the end of 2007 along with the one I mention in my reply to NoMan (or Scott). I thank you truly for your warm expression in missing "Arrows" and affirming your high regard for Maggie's writing. Her felt-sense ran deep as did her love
-her awakener in as if... as if death and love were brothers, which after all, they are.

So, in closing, let me dis/close with something more that Maggie writes in her last weeks.
I am standing before an enormous threshold right now with a frightening guardian challenging me to pass through the gate if I can... as I examine this site and this blog and the thousands of people who pass on a daily basis. I know it is too much to think that every one will “get it,” that they will understand what I am trying to do and look to try to do it also in their own lives. But I continue to hope that a few will find a call in this work and take the brave steps of challenging their own guardians and crossing the threshold into a deeper level of life. Even though it isn’t easy. Even though it challenges the very premises of their lives. Because, ultimately that is what I’m trying to do here – challenge people’s perspectives about what they think they know – about the world and about themselves. And, I want that challenge to become a true discipline, taught as a way of critical discourse. A myth is a terrible thing to waste. -Maggie Macary March, 2006
Many Blessings,
stephanie pope
mythopoetry.com
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From a private conversation.....

Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:24 pm

The following is from some recent private e-mail between me and a recent acquaintance from Classmates dot com (if my memory serves):


I have no objection if you use my name or nom d plume.

Redbear


--- On Wed, 6/4/08, C B Chavez <mbcchavez> wrote:

> From: C B Chavez <mbcchavez>
> To: [email protected]
> Date: Wednesday, June 4, 2008, 9:38 AM

> There is a thread at the JCF conversations on the subject of
> his anti-semitism. I would like to post your statement there
> to see what the experts on JC have to say. May I give your
> name? Whadyuhsay?
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: cody flecker <redbear358>
> To: C B Chavez <mbcchavez>
> Sent: Tuesday, June 3, 2008 8:41:49 PM
>
> I feel that I am about to break a bubble here, but the
> truth always wins out in the end.
>
> On Joseph Campbell's anti semitism I would like to
> quote from Louis Proyect, who himself quoted from the
> Washington Post Sunday, 24 November 2002, a review
> entitled,"Godfather of the New Age" "A Fire
> in the Mind " The Life of Joseph Campbell by Stephen
> & Robin Larson, Doubleday Publishers. The Reviewer was
> Martin Gardner.
>
> The larsons wrote a book that was accurate and to the
> point. They are champions of Cambell and appeared to
> worship his every nuance. The Larsons' complimented
> Campbell at every turn and after reading their book, one
> could get a complete glimpse into this rather complex man.
> The Larson's however did write about Campbell's
> "darkest side" and that was his anti semitism.
> Ironically, Gardner ( the reviewer) then shifts over to the
> New York Review of Books authored by Brendan Gill ( 28
> September 1989) Gill states that Campbell once said
> that"he moved to Bronxville to escape from the
> Jews" and that "the moon would be a good place to
> send them" Gill further states that Campbell objected
> to Blacks entering Sarah Lawrence. He threatened to flunk (
> He once did ) any student engaged in Leftist political
> action.
>
> Similiarly according to Gill and to the Lrson's,
> Campbell's hatred of President Roosevelt prompted him
> to say that there were three Caesars: Hitler,Mussolini, and
> FDR. A Great admirer of Thomas Mann, Campbell foolishly sent
> him a copy of a speech in which he urged artists and writers
> not to take sides in the unfortunate conflict between Hitler
> and Churchill. It drew a barbed response from Mann.
> Campbell's political opinons wrote Gill were to the
> Right of William Buckley. "His glibness and his
> charisma" one of his students said in a letter to the
> New York Review of Books, "were a mask that concealed
> a narrow mind"
>
> The larsons have done a remarkable job of assembling a
> thousand facts about the life of their here with many
> faces. A Balanced portrait of Campbell, covering his
> prejudices and inner beliefs is still to come.
>
> Another reference is "Joseph Campbell & Anti
> Semitism- The Politics of the Matter" by Maggie
> Macary,PhD. This article is from the following source:
> Mythandculture.com, Website of the late Maggie Macary who
> studied and taught at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, home
> of the Joseph Campbell Archive and Library.
>
> Macary writes about the same themes that Gill and Larson
> touch on, however she insists that Campbell known for his
> anti semitism,anti Black,anti feminist attitudes was in
> fact a paradox who was never truly understood. Macary
> reasoned that Campbell was a savant who at the same time
> was a reactionary.
>
> So here we have a bubble about to break. A force is the
> distance gathering more power as it gets closer to its
> target. Worship in its entirety is about to be dissolved,
> feelings of spirituality has now given way to the sublime
> feeling of emptiness. In the end we all must find a new
> hero, a new beginning, a new master, a new life.
>
> Redbear
>
> ,
> --- On Tue, 6/3/08, C B Chavez <mbcchavez>
> wrote:
>
> > From: C B Chavez <mbcchavez>
> > To: [email protected]
> > Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2008, 5:22 PM

> > Sorry, but I've read many
> things
> > by Campbell and wonder where you get the stuff about
> > "anti-semitism".....an actual reference to
> > something he really wrote would be helpful, because
> > I've never encountered anything anti-semitic at
> all


~
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Post by mythopoet » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:45 pm

...nor have I in all the many reads I have made (and re made) working through the writings of the late mythologer Joseph Campbell.

stephanie pope
mythopoetry.com
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Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:09 pm

Herewith, Redbear's latest statement in answer to my request for direct, original source references to Campbell's own work or life:
I do not have to read books by Campbell to realize bigotry and closed mindedness. I usually go to the source and see it first hand.

Redbear
Redbear's lack of trust in Campbell (and, apparently, anything remotely "liberal") appears to be a result of his deep and unquestioning regard for the POV expressed by pro-Israeli Americans.

I do not find his arguments persuasive. Like Campbell, I am critical of Israel and Palestine, hoping they will find a way to live in peace. The 2-state solution and the "roadmap" are viable and reasonable. I hope it's only a matter of time before a lasting peace is finally achieved.

In the meantime, the race and ethnic and class prejudice that will keep me locked out of national politics is so galling that if the Obama and Clinton team of warriors get together, I will definitely not vote Democratic. I'll just organize something or find another candidate or not vote at all.

The idea of 24 years of Clintons (1st lady, veep, prez) is unacceptable.

Dear Senator Obama:

The truth is that people like me have been left out of the loop too long. We represent those who believe in moderation and truth. Truth is that an arrest is an assault and battery, and we don't call it that because we think we are required to violate the rights of a few human beings (usually black and hispanic and poor) to save all the rest.

We do the same thing in international relations. We have been rationalizing violence under color of law for our entire national history. When does this stop?

I want to run as your running mate, though I'm aware of how much hatred the poor generate, and I know how shocked people are when a new name is introduced, and I'm aware of the lack of familiarity we suffer, as individuals and as members of what we can only call the "elite".

My power does not come from money or publicity or marriage or cronyism or mass movements. It comes from being more level-headed and centered than the average bear. I know what matters, I know who is really in charge, and I know my own limits.

Experience is a teacher, and it is often the teacher of fools.

Sincerely,

Carmela Bernadette Chavez

PS: I have no idea how to write to you directly.I know you're not likely to read this, and those who do read this are not likely to send this to you. I understand that this is just going into the air and probably disappearing into nothingness. If so, then the truth I carry in my soul is not powerful enough.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:48 pm

I do not have to read books by Campbell to realize bigotry and closed mindedness. I usually go to the source and see it first hand.

Redbear
What a revealing statement. I don't need to listen to someone to know what his opinion is. I just go to the source. [The Washington Post as THE SOURCE? :shock: ]
> The larsons wrote a book that was accurate and to the
> point. They are champions of Cambell and appeared to
> worship his every nuance. The Larsons' complimented
> Campbell at every turn and after reading their book, one
> could get a complete glimpse into this rather complex man.
> The Larson's however did write about Campbell's
> "darkest side" and that was his anti semitism.
I was unable to find any related statements by the Larsons. On page 520 they write about Campbell's anti-Zionism. Is it possible, that someone has mixed up A Fire in the Mind with Robert Segal's book Joseph Campbell. An Introduction?
> Similiarly according to Gill and to the Lrson's,
> Campbell's hatred of President Roosevelt prompted him
> to say that there were three Caesars: Hitler,Mussolini, and
> FDR.
In the Larsen's book, Robert Bly shares some memories of Campbell talking about the "three Caesars", Hitler, Mussolini and Roosevelt. What Campbell says is (according to Bly, quoted from A Fire in the Mind: "Once the three Ceasars have appeared there's no sense in doing a political act, it makes no sense at all. Don't waste your time, because everything is disintegrating." You may call that fatalism, maybe, but it's neither hatred of Roosevelt nor admiration for Hitler or Mussolini. Bly concludes, that Campbell believed in the necessity to understand myth, "[...] and everything will get a lot better right away. The energy with which he went about this missionary work of bringing help to a society - he implies that he knew there ways some strong help there. That other stuff he read in his twenties he kept with him as a kind of armor to get your work done, or an armor against people people who attack you, or an armor against the leftists - you know he was surrounded by them at Sarah Lawrence." (p. 509)

What Campbell was doing is defending the sacred space of studying myth and the arts from political activists of any kind, who urge people to drop any work that is of no direct "use" for society.

So much about going to the "source" to realize "bigotry and closed mindedness", instead of just listening.
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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Post by CarmelaBear » Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:13 am

Thank you, Martin. I'll pass along your comments. The source of this is e-mail.
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Post by JoeLeone » Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:47 am

Campbell, like other mythologists, including Jung and Eliade, gravitate towards mythic philosophies, which are archetypal and often absolutist and modernist as well as rich in symbol, appealing to our Apollonian side, the aspect which seeks to understand and would have it all be clear, as in black and white. Fascism both thrives in myth and creates its own, and mythologists, in their often abstract desire to believe combined with their idealism, find themselves often associated with such politics.

Campbell was a rather right-wing Republican and supporter of Richard Nixon. He was a poor Irish Catholic who ended up hanging with a lot of rich conservative "good 'ol boys," though his writings do not indicate this. But he was also quite anti-Catholic due to his treatment as a child by the Church, much like Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes.

People tend to see Campbell as a spokeman for the youth movement of the 60's and 70's, and he was in his writings, however, he wasn't in his social milieu. In addition, he didn't go for his Ph.D., perhaps out of his distrust for institutional authority, or his treatment by academics who disagreed with him, of whom there were and are many. He was more of a bard, albeit a learned bard; a story-teller, a performer who wanted to reach the general public with the power of myth. His success speaks for itself.

I went to Pacifica Graduate Institute, which houses some of his archives. Though he is respected, he is not seen by any means as "end all or be all" of myth, partly because he is seen as making a case for "the monomyth" among all cultures where many do not see that it exists. Gimbutas is seen somewhat in the same light in the sense that her claim of "the goddess" as pre-existing "the god" is not quite as true as she claimed.

As for any possible anti-semitism on Campbell's part, I do not know, however, considering the world-view of the rich conservatives with whom he associated, he may have had such views. However, I don't know the basis for such labels upon Campbell. For all I know, they may have come with his mythical rather than factual portrayal of Judeo-Christian texts. Religious people often do not take kindly to metaphorical readings of their sacred texts.
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Post by kewing » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:38 pm

David_Kudler wrote:I just wanted to add one thing to what I said, by way of clarification: It seems to me that finding fault with the theology of Judaism does not necessarilly make one anti-Semitic, any more than objecting to the policies of one's head-of-state makes one un-patriotic.

<font>[ This Message was edited by: David_Kudler on 2003-07-10 13:01 ]</font>
Thanks for this Mr. Kudler and especially since you're indeed Jewish; those who are not, like myself, can find it impossibly tiresome to have to hold one's tongue or otherwise attempt to ignore the wrong-headed, seemingly hyperbolic vigilance some Jews seem determined to apply to what is legitimate criticism of their religion. My latest disappointing experience was by way of Hans Thomas Hakl's 2013 publication, Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century whereby he falls victim to making undocumented accusations (and not just on behalf of J.C.). I went as far as to provide a poor review of the book on Amazon based on his flagrantly unprofessional and irresponsible inclusion of these non-facts (without further legitimizing them by way of dragging all the names into my argument). One struggles in this way to turn the other cheek, as it were, and not fuel the conflagration. Otherwise in this book, ironically, Hakl had good things to say about Campbell; describing Hero, for example, as indeed "thrilling" (145). It points out to me that some Jews feel unable, via heavenly fiat perhaps, or simply psychological reflexiveness, to acknowledge Campbell's argument for religion - ALL religion - to be functioning within the expansive, overarching umbrella - the "sheltering sky" to borrow Paul Bowles' term - of mythology and therefore metaphor. Without allowing even the idea that religion = mythology = metaphor, a Jew (or a Hindu or a follower of any contemplative tradition) risks abandoning zeal for zealotry. And then inflames the zeal of others, like readers of Campbell, to slide into an equally obfuscating and ultimately futile defensive posture of reverse zealotry themselves. I sometimes wonder how the JCF holds back from launching counter attacks against this pernicious and apparently pervasive anti-Semite charge against a man unable to defend himself. Anyway, I suppose it's better that I let off some steam here than wasting any more of my time and energy trying to "right wrongs" in the "outside" world. Thank you again.
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