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Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation Hardcover – October 26, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
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Wonderful insight into the essential Joseph Campbell... a guidebook for finding one's own inner hero or heroine, and for finding the guts to listen to one's own story. --Bloomsbury Review
Campbell has become the rarest of intellectuals in American life: a serious thinker who has been embraced by the popular culture.”
In our generation the mythographer who has had the fullest command of the huge scholarly literature, the analytic ability, the lucid prose, and the needed staying power has been Joseph Campbell.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Sounds like words of wisdom from a worthy and knowledgable teacher.... but how exactly does one go about following their bliss?
That's what this book aims to answer.
Joseph Campbell, of course, died in 1987, yet this book didn't appear on store shelves until 2004. That's because it has been assembled posthumously by the Joseph Campbell Foundation from many of Campbell's unpublished notes/lectures/interviews/drafts/etc... Their aim is to bring the great mythologist's unfinished works into a form suitable for public consumption. With that as their aim, the Foundation had the inspired idea to organize a whole book around the premise: How To Follow Your Bliss.
So, it's the usual brand of Campbell's 'Mythology as Psychological Resource', albeit this time around in the guise of a sort of 'mythological self-help book'. A satisfying one nonetheless.
As ever, Campbell's basic premise is that the grand purpose of mythology is to ground an individual in relation to an order of being that is larger than himself. Through metaphor and through ritual, an individual is brought into accord with:
1. The great mystery
2. The physical world
3. The societal order
4. The appropriate stage in one's own development as an individual
(These you may recognize as Campbell's four functions of myth.Read more ›
I find "Pathways" a delightful read. Campbell's's voice is fresh, his words full of wit and wisdom - definitely has more of an intimate feel than some of his heavily referenced scholastic tomes. There is no mincing of words, either - Campbell makes very clear that ancient myths remain guideposts for our individual lives today - if we know how to read them ... as in the following passage:
"Now all of these myths that you have heard and that resonate with you, those are the elements from round about that you are building into a form in your life. The thing worth considering is how they relate to each other in your context, not how they relate to something out there - how they were relevant on the North American praires or in the Asian jungles hundreds of years ago, but how they are relevant now - unless by contemplating their former meaning you can begin to amplify your own understanding of the role they play in your life."
Here Campbell makes clear that his books aren't just for armchair scholars, as he brings mythology out of the Academy and into the street
... which is indeed unnerving for many in specialized disciplines. They might study myth, but to apply patterns discovered therein to one's own life carries the same stigma as an "objective" anthropologist "gone native."
For Campbell, though, the same elements of story that power myth remain active in our lives today.Read more ›
I started reading this book and my wife was joking with me, saying all you have to do is read the last paragraph to get the gist of the book. So as a joke I turned to the last paragraph and read it out loud to her. It was so moving, well, that was it, we both read the book cover to cover together.
It's just an amazingly affirmative view of life and nobody explains the mysteries of the cosmos better than Joseph Campbell. I'm a huge fan of his, and this book is the best one yet.
Or to re-state this on a more critical level, these works allow Campbell's own thoughts about myth to be portrayed, instead of the heavy lens of his teachers shadowing him such as in his early works.
As soon as I began to read the book, the surprises kept coming. From the introduction on, Campbell writes in a very personal, comfortable way about really deep issues, about how myth is not just a series of stories that shape a particular society, but is a tool for individual growth, about the ways in which you can identify what the myths are that you live by, and the way in which you can see your own life as a series of hero journeys. I was stunned that a book that is so clear and accessible could be so profound and thought provoking.
If you know someone who is looking at their own life (and who isn't), this would be the best christmas gift you've ever gotten them!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A collection of writing/lecture notes organized by Joseph's misinterpreted comment about "following your bliss."Published 9 days ago by Kathleen D
Concise & comprehensive, loving every word of this collectionPublished 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
I wish I could give this 5 stars, I really do. There were some truly amazing passages and thoughts in here, and I found myself applying the highlighter liberally. Read morePublished 1 month ago by C.K. Brooke, Author of The Red Pearl
Rec'd for Christmas. Looking forward to reading it. Been a fan of Campbell's for a long time!Published 1 month ago by Brian W
I've discovered Campbell's work not long ago, but it feels like I've found a life Master. I've read The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Hero's Journey, but this was my favourite... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Leonor Cristal
Joseph Campbell is the most influential person in my life (of course I never met him) and this is his best book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Morgan McKinley