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Myths and Masks of God, The

Campbell, Joseph
[b]Tape 1: Interpreting Symbolic Forms[/b] In this delightful talk, Joseph Campbell uses the biblical tale of the Garden of Eden as the starting point for an exploration of how we interpret symbolic forms. Observing that certain Western religious traditions view this story of Man’s “fall from grace” as a recounting of an actual event, he insists that this literal, historical perspective provides a limited understanding of the Garden story. [b]Tape 2: Mythic Visions[/b] In this insightful talk, Joseph Campbell first distinguishes myth from the adventure story and the fairy tale. Then he describes teh way in which myths are true. Though people who live by a mythology might not regard their myths as empirically true, mythic images continuously penetrate their psyches. So these people are living, Campbell argues, in a mythological realm, where their normal sense of space and time is suspended, and their visions in that dimension are therefore true. [b]Tape 3: Experiencing the Divine[/b] In this remarkable talk, Joseph Campbell charts the evolution of our experience of the divine. He secribes the worldwide view of early hunters on the open plains, who deified their animal providers; the different reality of denizens of tropical forests, whose sacrifice rituals reflect the world around them; and the desire of inhabitants of the first villages to harmonize daily life with the mathematical progression of planets and stars. Common to these mythic visions, he observes, is the idea that the devine is “out there’ in some form. [b]Tape 4: History of the Gods[/b] In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the original sources of various images of divinity in religions around the world. No experience, he reminds us, can be fully understood except by the person who has had that experience; and nowhere, he observes, is this limitation more apparent than in the context of religious experience. As a result, the poetic images used to describe such experiences are often misunderstood by others. [b]Tape 5: The Religious Impulse[/b] In the finale talk of the series, Joseph Campbell explores the origins of important Judeo-Christian religious motifs. He interpets a range of religious symbols, from the western crucifix (and its associations with the tree of life) to the “fear not” mundra (the gesture of raised hand with exposed palm) in eastern sacred sculpture. A central concern of all great mythologies, he notes, has always been teh dynamic relationship between life and death.

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