Audio: Lecture I.4.4 – The Necessity of Rites
Life is a monstrous, horrendous presence and you live on it. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that. The first function of a mythological order has been to reconcile consciousness to this fact. —Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell begins this talk by noting that a principle function of mythology is to reconcile human consciousness to the preconditions of its existence, to life that lives on life. He explores how rites and symbols, seemingly burdensome and punitive to the adolescent mind, reveal deeper meanings as the individual matures. Thus, Campbell observes, rites and symbols enable a society to affirm life and ensure that certain values are passed along to future generations.
Running time: approx. 60 minutes