The “monstrous, irrational, and unnatural” motifs in folklore and myth are derived from the reservoirs of dream and vision. On the dream level such images represent the total state of the individual dreaming psyche. But clarified of personal distortions and profounded by poets, prophets, and visionaries, they become symbolic of the spiritual norm for Man the Microcosm. They are thus phrases from an image-language, expressive of a metaphysical, psychological, and sociological truth.
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