Was Campbell Pro-choice?

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Panthael
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Post by Panthael » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Just wondering if anybody had any information on the subject.
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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I've tried to see if there's any information out there, but I can't find any. Campbell was aggressively apolitical, if that makes any sense, and, for the most part, avoided involving himself in hot-button debates.

Based on what I do know of his character, however, I could probably make some guesses. Campbell was a passionate affirmer of life. He felt that we should all embrace what the universe threw at us--good, bad, indifferent.

On the other hand, he seems to have had a rather civil-libertarian bent, believing in the right--indeed, the duty--of each of us to find his/her own way through the quagmires of choices that life sends at us. He wasn't a big fan of the idea of an abstract moral order--Good and Evil as absolutes, defined by the social and religious structures that sort out our world.

My guess, then--and it is entirely my guess, since I have no direct data to back me up--is that he would have felt that abortion was a poor choice, a repugnant, literally life-negating path. Yet, I assume, he would have strongly agreed with the idea that it is the individual woman's right to choose whether or not to take that path, and not some judge or the leader of a religion to which she might or might not belong.

I've tried very hard not to project, here. The view I laid out is not my own. Still, as I've said, it is an extrapolation from Campbell's known sentiments, rather than an inference based on parallel positions. If anyone has any direct evidence to contradict my assumption--or support it, for that matter--we'd love to hear it. I'd rather this not turn into a debate on the topic of abortion, per se--that would belong in the Conversation with 1000 Faces. But any other informed guesses as to what Cambpell might felt on the subject would be welcome--as long as you try, as I did, not to project too much of your own agenda onto poor Joe.
David Kudler<br>Publications<br>Joseph Campbell Foundation<br>publications at jcf dot org
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Martin_Weyers
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

If it is a projection, then I would project the same.
Much as Campbell mistrusted a great part of the Democratic platform, he also increasingly disagreed with the Republican agenda during the 1980s, something ignored by people who wished the place him in a political cubbyhole of some kind. In his last years he became very alienated by three major trends that he saw taking over in the party, probably in decreasing order of significance for him.

The first was the Republican affiliation with Christian fundamentalist religion. [...]

The second was the emotionally loaded abortion issue; he understood the deeply seated values that inform both positions, but he supported a woman's right to choose for herself.

[...]

Stephen and Robin Larsen, A Fire in the Mind, New York 1993 (Anchor Books Edition), pp. 511-512
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Martin on 2003-08-18 06:19 ]</font>
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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks, Martin! I was flipping through my copy of A Fire in the Mind, and couldn't find the passage you quoted.

Nice to know my guesswork wasn't too far off-target!
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JR
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Post by JR » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

What was the third trend?
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Post by Panthael » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks for your replies everyone! I read some things about Campbell supporting Vietnam and would have assumed from his ideas that he was very liberal. So I wanted to see where he stood on this position, and the position you all put forth makes a great deal of sense. Thanks.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Panthael, it seems that apolitical Campbell, for a while, has voted the Republicans and supported the Vietnam war, because, in face of communism, had lost his balance.

JR, ...
The third was the miserable record of Republican federal administrations in addressing environmental issues. They just didn't seem to grasp the notion of ecology, with which Campbell had felt strongly aligned since his youth, a conviction that deepened through his friendships with Ed Ricketts, pioneer of the ecology movement, and Buckminster Fuller - with the latter's idea of "synergy" and the "whole earth" perspective.

Same authors, same book, same page...
..., David, I said I'm quoting from the Anchor book edition (with 640 pages). Is there an index in the 688-pages edition? In my edition there is one. The third subject of the index is "abortion issue".
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 Calaf » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I think Campbell would have made a point of sidestepping that issue were it ever brought up, using some wily Campbell-ism (not that I don't LOVE the wily Campbell-isms).
Interesting that Ed Ricketts is brought up here, too. It reminds me of Joe Campbell's acquaintance with John Steinbeck (who made Ed "Doc" Ricketts the central character in his Cannery Row). Joseph Campbell and John Steinbeck: pretty different literary charcters, no?
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