Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
"Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths." ¯ Joseph Campbell
on February 9, 2012
The six hour PBS program JOSEPH CAMPBELL: THE POWER OF MYTH is one of that network's finest, yet they never show it anymore, not even during fundraisers. (Sinatra's Concert for the Americas and Doo Wop revivals are big in my area.)
The charismatic, enthused and quite brilliant Campbell taught at Sarah Lawrence College for 38 years. I would've loved to have attended his courses. He has a way of making the most abstract concepts easily understood, seems to relish recounting fables first spoken by ancient teachers and shamans, and always returns to his main theme: find your bliss, and do it in the here and now.
Journalist and ex-LBJ staffer Bill Moyers interviews Campbell from the proper position of student to teacher. "Joe" as Moyers calls him, reacts happily when his pupil grasps what he's saying, and rephrases a thought when he doesn't. Teacher is patient when Moyers doesn't agree on the meaning of life or divinity, but he never goes off-message, instead pointing out examples from his own past that powerfully support his views.
The sixth and final chapter has a moment that really resonates for me. It was taped just a few months before 83-year-old Campbell's death.
At one point during this discussion of eternity, the professor mentions that he's lost many friends and his parents, yet realizes that they still live within him. I'm more black & white on this. A memory is an intangible, untouchable thing. No matter how vivid, it's not the same as seeing, hearing or being with lost ones. Yet, I recognize that they do sometimes surface in my most powerfully emotional dreams. In that subconscious realm, they truly exist.
I suppose Campbell would've refuted my view in his good-natured way and left me to reassess. And that is the true joy of this series of talks: they cause you think about things you'd never even considered and appreciate more those that have long been a part of your life.
#1 - "The Hero's Adventure" - Citing George Lucas' STAR WARS and ancient folktales in this hour interview, the professor illustrates that the hero's striving is metaphor for struggles that occur within us all.
#2 - "The Message of the Myth" - Common themes across the ages oin God and creation. Religions change as the world does. The four functions of myths.
#3 - "The First Storytellers" - Native American myths. Cave paintings in America and France. Manhood rituals of primitive tribes.
#4 - "Sacrifice and Bliss" - Plant mythology. Stages of marriage. Legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. "Follow your bliss!"
#5 - "Love and the Goddess" - Tristan & Isolde. The goddess cults. Christian themes in earlier religions.
#6 - "Masks of Eternity" - The energy of the Universe. Art that expresses the energy of life. "Elemental ideas" i.e. universal concepts. Trickster myths. Meditation.