30 DAYS CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF JCF
Thinking at the Edges of Joseph Campbell: The Future of the MythBlast Series
Anniversaries mark the important events of one’s life; they invite reflection on the past, why it’s mattered, and where we’ve come from. Simultaneously, anniversaries stimulate thinking about the future, where we want to go, and what remains to be done. Anniversaries often find us at a boundary, a border between what we have been, and what we will become. They place us at the edges of ourselves with aspiration pressing against present limitations and, as you will see, the 30th anniversary of the Joseph Campbell Foundation is no exception.
Jane Jacobs, a most remarkable woman, wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, that “Often borders are thought of as passive objects, or matter-of-factly just as edges. However, a border exerts an active influence.” (262) At the place of borders, edges, and limits, Psyche exerts its influence as well, and the power of its protean creativity, its appel à l’aventure, awakens a desire for a more fully lived life. It is the call to adventure, and to answer it, one must be dauntless, willing to transgress ostensible limits, especially the inner psychological limits defended by belief, fear, convention, or fiat—the conditions of life to which myth speaks most eloquently.
Mythology is indispensable for one engaged in the enterprise of working at the limits or the edges of oneself. Contending with psychic realities, often destabilizing personal and cosmic truths, and the disturbing intuition that, as W.H. Auden wrote, We are lived by powers we pretend to understand: They arrange our love; it is they who direct at the end/ The enemy bullet, the sickness, or even our hand, are the kinds of challenges one finds at the edges of oneself. The thinking of myth confounds notions of comfort, understanding, and predictability, and makes one confront, to gloss Gershom Scholem, the terrors from which myths are made.
Today’s gift is: “The Symbol without Meaning” Esingle
“When the symbol is functioning for engagement, the cognitive faculties are held fascinated by and bound to the symbol itself, and are thus simultaneously informed by and protected from the unknown. But when the symbol is functioning for disengagement, transport, and metamorphosis, it becomes a catapult to be left behind.” — Joseph Campbell
Campbell’s famous, mind-expanding essay explores the fundamental connection between myth, symbol, and human culture. In it, he looks at the origins of western culture’s myths and symbols, and asks whether these are still relevant in the modern era. This piece, along with classics such as “Mythogenesis,” “Bios and Mythos” and Campbell’s foreword to Grimms’ Fairy Tales, was published as part of the collection The Flight of the Wild Gander (re-issued by New World Library in 2002). This digital edition has been published by Joseph Campbell Foundation.
Download it HERE