Mythology and the rites through which its imagery is rendered open the mind . . . not only to the local social order, but also to the mythic dimension of being – of nature – which is within as well as without, and thereby finally at one with itself. Moreover, the sentiments of this nature within are indeed innate: of love, for example, hate, fear, and disdain, wonder, terror, and joy. They are not ‘developed in the individual,’ as the anthropologist states, ‘by the action of society upon him,’ but evoked by these means and directed to social ends. Nature is prime: it is there at birth; Society is next: it is only a shaper of Nature, and a function, moreover, of what it shapes; whereas Nature is deep and, finally, as inscrutable as Being itself.
The Flight of the Wild Gander: Selected Essays 1944 - 1968
Explore the origins and impact of myth
What is the “meaning” of a tree? of a butterfly? of the birth of a child? or of the universe? What is the “meaning” of the song of a rushing stream? Such wonders simply are. They are antecedent to meaning, though “meaning” may be read into them. — Joseph CampbellIn these essays – contemporary with his years at Sarah Lawrence and with his legendary Cooper Union lectures – Campbell explores the origins of myth, from the Grimms’ fairy tales to Native American legends. He explains how the symbolic content of myth is linked to universal human experience and how the myths and experiences change over time. Included is the famed essay “Mythogenesis,” which traces the rise and decline of a Native American legend.
Reviews: In this book, as in his other work, Campbell displays his immense learning, drawing evidence to support his case from virtually every branch of human knowledge. — The New York Times Book Review Campbell has become one of the rarest of intellectuals in American life: a serious thinker who had been embraced by the popular culture. — Newsweek