Message: 19 Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 14:48:33 -0000 From: "rwallach1" Subject: Re: That Troublesome Topic: Campbell's Politics
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, falderol1 wrote: I learned what Campbell's politics was, down deep, when I attended a two day public symposium sponsored by the SF Jung Institute. It sheds a lot of light on his love of "German culture." He went into a five minute anti-Semitic diatribe, beginning with a his reaction to a comment by Martin Buber, that wound up with him expressing exactly the same things about Judaism as Louis Farrakhan.
Um -- this is a pretty broad and vague statement. It'd help if you could be a little more precise about what it was he said, or that you think he said. It would surely help me understand why, in that case, he appointed me -- at the time still a practicing Jew, as he was perfectly aware -- director of his seminar series schedule, among other things, back in 1975, and/or why we were able to have frequent conversations comparing the John Woodruffe illustrations of the kundalini yoga to a series of classic representations of the sefirotic tree in several kabbalistic traditions without him bursting into "anti semitic diatribes." I want to be sure this isn't one of those responses wherein virtually any disagreement with or criticism of any aspect of Judaic culture (including, for example, bulldozing Arab houses to make way for Jewish settlements on the West Bank) elicits hysterical charges of anti-semitism.
I never received anything but complete respect from Joe, and in several years of close association with him that included travelling with him and attending programs and talks he gave all over the country, I often heard him take very strong positions against inclusive/exclusive, us-versus-them forms of sectarianism and the toxic effects of such sectarian thinking throughout all levels of social and political life. But he felt that way about any such system, including the more extreme Hindu and Buddhist sects, 'untouchability' in all its rancid forms, and so on. I never heard anything that even remotely approached an "anti semitic" diatribe.
Message: 24 Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 15:04:24 -0000 From: "rwallach1" Ah, and a quick followup to my last post:
(1) I recall that in the months after Campbell's death, this issue of his presumed "anti semitism" came up on a number of occasions, and on each, the examples offered for it were pretty farfetched. I don't recall a single concrete citation of a comment he had made, nor, certainly, of anything he had ever written, that you could call "anti semitic" in the mindless sense of the term. I do recall one prominent New York rabbi being interviewed about it -- I believe he was a ranking official of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, though I don't remember his name anymore. He was asked if Campbell was anti-semitic and he replied -- and this is verbatim, it stuck in my mind -- "Yes, in the sense that he was anti-sectarian."
Good grief - what a slovenly standard for imposing such a vicious pejorative on someone's reputation. It's as if that clown was already working for a Rupert Murdoch news channel.
(2) What Campbell loved about German culture (which until 1938 included an immense Jewish contribution, of which he was well aware and of which he was appropriately appreciative) was its passion for precision, its curiosity, its creative richness and its singular capacity to acknowledge and keep in balance the dark side of the human psyche. One of the questions that drove his own curiosity was how such a culture could, finally, collapse into such a nightmare. "The Masks of God" was in no small part and attempt to answer that question, and the introduction to the series, as I've noted elsewhere on this forum, is a pretty clear and forthright attack upon bigotry justified by myth, and a tonic exposition of the dangerous forces operating within mythological systems, especially sectarian ones. I think your reference to his love of classic Germania in the context you used it was unjustifiable, and such transparent rhetorical ploys aren't going to shepherd a useful discussion in any direction.