The Power of Myth

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Among his many gifts, Joseph Campbell's most impressive was the unique ability to take a contemporary situation, such as the murder and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, and help us understand its impact in the context of ancient mythology. Herein lies the power of The Power of Myth, showing how humans are apt to create and live out the themes of mythology. Based on a six-part PBS television series hosted by Bill Moyers, this classic is especially compelling because of its engaging question-and-answer format, creating an easy, conversational approach to complicated and esoteric topics. For example, when discussing the mythology of heroes, Campbell and Moyers smoothly segue from the Sumerian sky goddess Inanna to Star Wars' mercenary-turned-hero, Han Solo. Most impressive is Campbell's encyclopedic knowledge of myths, demonstrated in his ability to recall the details and archetypes of almost any story, from any point and history, and translate it into a lesson for spiritual living in the here and now. --Gail Hudson

The author of the bestselling Hero With a Thousand Faces touches on subjects ranging from modern marriage to virgin births, from Jesus to John Lennon, in an intriguing and entertaining attempt to explain our world.

Customer Reviews:

  • Great starting point to exploring Myths
    This book is a great book to start with if you are curious about what Myths from ancient history really meant and what the ancients were trying to teach. If you have watched any of the Joseph Campbell specials on PBS that explain his understanding of what Myths are trying to teach us about the nature of the world and about ourselves then this book is unneeded. This book only skims the basics and does not probe to deeply. Campbell believes that all Myths fron the American Indians, Greeks, Romans, and from India are veiled teachings about the nature of human conciousness played out by the characters in the Myths. He believes that we as human beings are divided with the organs in our bodies influencing us through their different needs. Campbell believes that to truly be happy you must follow your bliss, when you quit following your bliss for money, it is the beginning of unhappiness. Campbell also tears the sacred veil off modern religions explaining them away as nothing but modern day Myths that teach us about ourselves through metaphors, not to be taken literally. Great book, but read his others for more depth in his teachings....more info
  • Every Student should read THIS!!!!
    It doesnt matter what type of religious or scientific following you believe in, this book gives you a history of our most fundatmentals struggles at the beginning of human thought. And during this journey you start to learn alot more about yourself and how you and how the universe connects. Amazing book!!! Must read!!!...more info
  • Accessible and clear
    This is the audio to a PBS special from the 80's. It's done in a conversation between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. For some people this may feel like there is no structure and that it meaanders through the topic. But, for me it felt more like I was sitting in a living room as they talked to each other.

    I've talked to people with lots of knowledge on this topic and they've said that Campbell is sort of the popular science or myth-light version of this topic. It was just the right amount of depth for me and interesting how he personalized myth for people in modern day....more info
  • A book that seems to make religious nuts bitter.
    Well versed and thought out, this book stands out and has been used in many of todays religion studies. Though some of his points can be perceived as "stretched", he is still a scholar in his field. It seems that the people that often criticize him and his works have little to no experience or education on the subject at hand and do it solely on the fact that it sometimes criticizes the monotony of modern and ancient religion. I recommend this book to everyone. Read the book and make your own educated determination. It could open your eyes and your mind. Or you can close your mind, avoid the book, and start a "crusade" against the author for speaking his opinion. ...more info
  • awesome
    Campbell's books are very interesting. I wanted a hardcover to last through several readings. ...more info
  • Nonsense Presented as Erudition
    In THE POWER OF MYTH, Campbell says, "Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols." My area of expertise is Greek myth, and Campbell never grasped the meaning of any of those symbols himself. Campbell says there was no first couple in an ancient paradise, yet Greek artists depicted Athena as being born full-grown out Zeus: a picture of Eve being born full-grown out of Adam. They also called Eden the Garden of the Hesperides and always depicted it with a serpent-entwined apple tree. Campbell says there was no Flood, yet the Greeks depicted it often as a man named KAINEUS (the line of Kain) being pounded into the earth by Kentaurs (the line of Seth). They also depicted Noah as a man they called Nereus (the Wet One), often giving him the bottom half of a fish to show he had come through the Flood.

    Reading this Moyers/Campbell dialogue is a waste of time for truth-seekers. Campbell didn't grasp the meaning of his own subject, and Moyers didn't grasp that Campell didn't know what he was talking about. I recommend THE PARTHENON CODE: MANKIND'S HISTORY IN MARBLE. It teems with true understanding of ancient "myths"....more info
  • Amazing Mythological Comparisons
    This is written in an "interview" form. I probably would get more out of the DVD format. It has very interesting comparisons of our life to mythology. Although very interesting, some ideas seem a little far-fetched....more info
  • Wondering why you were born? Look no further.
    5.5 stars

    The Power Of Myth pretty much explains why we are here, and what we can do about it.

    I can't think of any single book that showed me as much about myself, my mind, and how I fit into the grand dance of history as Powers Of Myth. It takes the great Bill Moyers interviews and lays them out in a beautifully logical fashion.

    There is more deep thought and simple logic about the world's religions and myths here than in any other book I have found; Campbell's favorite theme, that all religions come from the same sources and have the same message, is clearly explained. More importantly, the wonderfully wise author takes that information and shows us how to use it to make our lives richer and more meaningful. What a glorious man, and what a glorious book. It's not only a fine introduction to Joseph's extraordinary work, it's a fitting summation, and a tribute to how much one man can learn and share and grow in a lifetime.

    Makes a perfect gift for anyone at any age who likes to think.

    My highest recommendation....more info
  • Thought provoking, but don't take it literally
    This is not a scientific paper, and it does not pretend to be one. It is a TV show, watched by both housewives and college professors. Yes, the conversational format occasionally gets repetitive, but it is with purpose, designed for an average lay person watching this on TV, not knowing anything about the subject. As an introduction to the metaphorical thinking about life, religions, history and who we are, it is an interesting and thought provoking talk. As a scientific discourse, well...I don't think PBS would aim that high.

    Unfortunately, whenever religion enters scene, it becomes too tough for some to handle. Just because Campbell poetically and metaphorically talks about stuff in a way that is misaligned with the agenda promoted by the organized religions (any of them), he should not be dismissed or even venomously assaulted. You can find plenty of ideas here that will direct you to other sources and start you on a great journey. I've heard people talk bad about Carl Sagan using same justification and verbiage as those attacking Campbell. There is a lot of love here for the mankind, regardless of the creed or color, because Campbell understands that we are all children of the same God (which unfortunately may bother some people). Poets think and speak in metaphors and if you don't dig their language, don't read them.

    A suggestion - for a novice to Campbell, perhaps a better intro would be the video version of this interview. More appealing and easier to grasp....more info
  • Intriguing, important but sometimes contradictory
    In our current secular culture where everything is de-mythologized, this is an important work. Campbell shows how the existential angst and meaninglessnes of modern toil is inextricably linked with our devaluation of mythology in the 21st century.

    From a philosophical point of view I especially admired the colourful way in which Campbell accounted for the dualism of the human predicament eg. In the Garden of Eden fall from unity into the knowledge of "good and evil". Buddhist conceptions of duality were also well integrated.

    However, in parts I found Campbell's message somewhat contradictory. Especially concerning the gnostic view that the material world is "bad", and the eternal world of the spirit, our real home. In some instances he seems to support this gnostic view, in others he wants us to embrace the tactile reality we find ourselves in, submerging ourselves in its goodness. Perhaps I just misunderstood. I would welcome enlightenment from fellow readers.

    Perhaps the greatest "take-away" for me was the value of investing myth into your everday world. As the Postmodern philosopher Rorty said: there is no true view of the world (even the scientific one), only a view which is the most useful. Personally I often find the meaninglessness of the materialist view pretty useless (for me, anyway), and a view rich with myth and mystical connotation might be infinitely more livable. (regardless if the myths are empirically deemed "fiction" rather than fact) ...more info
  • Bad book

    Power of Myth is one of the driest most uninteresting books I have ever read. Not only does it completely have no point, it is not in the least bit interesting. I would never recommend it to anybody for enjoyment or a class. I think Power of Myth is good only for a college doctorate class in myth. I can think of endless things I would change throughout this book to make it more interesting, but clearly that wasn't the authors objective. ...more info
  • Ancient Art Portrays History, Not "Myth"
    Reviewer Michael J. Edelman wrote of this book, "With Campbell as the putative sage and Moyers as his fawning acolyte, they put on a show that's a parody of Socratic dialogue." How true!
    The ultimate contradiction in this sadly sacrosanct book of sophomoric sophistry is the statement to Campbell by Moyers, who has often claimed to be a Christian: "Far from undermining my faith, your work in mythology has liberated my faith from the cultural prisons to which it had been sentenced." Campbell was an atheist and a Darwinist. Note to Bill Moyers: there are no slime-snake-monkey people in the body of Christ. We're all descended from the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, through Noah and his wife. Did you get mixed up, Bill, and think Campbell was the apostle Paul?
    I've spent years researching ancient art. My findings, including image after image of the art itself (what I like to call "evidence"), appear in these books Athena and Eden: The Hidden Meaning of the Parthenon's East Facade, Athena and Kain: The True Meaning of Greek Myth, The Parthenon Code: Mankind's History in Marble, and Noah in Ancient Greek Art.
    None of Campbell's work was of any help at all to me in gaining a true understanding of what our ancestors were communicating to us in their art and literature. He didn't grasp the simple point that, for the most part, ancient art depicts HISTORY, not myth. Campbell's books lead away from truth, not toward it.
    ...more info
  • Book Review
    The Power of Myth is an extremely informative and interesting read. Though the subject matter could lend itself to be heavy going and complex this was not the case with this book. It is well written and therefore easy to understand especially for those who are researching Myth as a beginner. A very good read indeed. ...more info
    Joseph Campbell did follow his "bliss." He was not afraid to take the path that was difficult yet rewarding. The only path that would help us experience true happiness. Mr. Campbell conversation with Bill Moyers was insightful although I didn't really watch the actual interview. I was able to read the script in such way that made me feel that I did witness such witty exchange first hand. Cambell eloquently talk about the vital part of our existence linking the divine part of humanity, which only manifest when the ability our understanding become full circle and when we are able to follow our "bliss."

    "...if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

    Campbell simply insisted that we all follow our bliss, there is no other way around it. What ever it is that might take to find our "bliss" it certainly worth the journey. We certainly enter new level of understanding during the course of reading. It is vital to keep the same level enthusiastic one need to have taking such personal journey in finding yourself as if you are introduced to your inner life the first time. In real life whenever we are introduced to new person. We use our capacity to learn about the new person. We do not make the same effort learning about ourselves. Campbell reminds us the important of taking such journey and learning about our God given gift. Campbell: "Follow your bliss. Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it."

    I'm big believer knowing the symptoms and methods of finding my own "bliss." I certain like when Campbell offers such simple and universal yet deeper methods of staying on track. Campbell: "Our life evokes our character. You find out more about yourself as you go on. That's why it's good to be able to put yourself in situations that will evoke your higher nature rather that your lower." In our live times we do drift away and explore the many possibilities that we encounter in life. We may even suppress our true being for reasons. Now Campbell offered us to measure our journey to find our "bliss" to stay on track taking the journey while we are on our higher nature.

    Campbell continues to remind us to stay on the center and not to loose track even not to blind ourselves with temporary happiness as result our lower nature. Finding our "bliss" not to be a complicated journey but requires following our heart and returning to the center to be able to understand our surroundings fully. It is really finding the moment that we are really happier. Let us examine the Campbell's differentiation between just being excited for moment or experiencing true happiness in his conversation with Bill Moyer: "What about happiness? If I'm a young person and I want to be happy, what do myths tell me about happiness?"
    Campbell: "The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy - not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call "follow your bliss."

    On the final analysis I strong recommend for anyone to read the book to draw a reasonable conclusion. However, I took the direct quote illustrating what our inward journey must consider in finding our bliss as Joseph Campbell recapitulate: "...When life comes into being, it is neither afraid not desiring, it is just becoming. Then it gets into being, and it begins to be afraid and desiring. When you can get rid of fear and desire and just get back to where you're becoming, you've hit the spot ... But the goal of your quest for knowledge of yourself is to be found at that burning point in yourself, that becoming thing in yourself, which is innocent of the goods and evils of the world as already become, and therefore desireless and fearless..."

    Don't you agree? ...more info
  • So Many Stars, One Sky.
    No library is complete without a copy of this great work. Joseph Campbell is a hero of mine. The power of his mind was mythic, pun intended. He was a humble genius with an infectious sense of humor. His message of myth and meaning came straight from his heart, from his whole being. His agenda for his students and readers alike was to spread his wonder and joy. The wonder and joy of being human. To follow your bliss as he would put it. He was that most unique of modern sages, full of wisdom without being full of himself. He was a mischievous elf that enjoyed teasing our cultural foibles at nearly every turn, but always with a light touch. I like my lessons about the mystery of life delivered with a wink. I like to feel that I am in on the joke. Not that I don't take life seriously, I do. I just try not to take it too seriously, neither did Mr. Campbell. Mr. Campbell believed, as do I, that to rightly study the mystery of life a large serving of humility with a dash of humor is requirred. God does not reveal his truths to a haughty heart. Dogmatic certainty in such matters as cultural myths can all too easily turn into hubris. Religious Crusades and Jihads come to mind. Mr. Campbell was a very wise man that recognized much as did the great Christian Mystic Meister Eckhart that God is like a great underground river. That each of our world's great myths and religions are the product of different cultures digging sacred wells into the same unseen source. If you want a greater understanding of the world's great myths then read this book....more info
  • A real golden treasure!!!
    I read people here saying Joseph Campbell has anti-semitic and anti-christianity views. This is erroneous. His interpretation of The Bible is the only one that makes sense to me at this day and age, which in fact has reinvigorated my once fading catholic faith (I now go to mass with a new refreshed understanding of its rituals and its psycological implications). Furthermore, his work has made me truly respect, understand, and admire each of the religions of the world bringing all of them into one harmonious picture. As Campbell says: "All religions work!".

    Life seems easier after reading Joseph Campbell... I fully recommend The Power Of Myth to every person on Earth... This book, or better yet, the DVD, is the best introduction to Mr. Campbell's fascinating ideas....more info
  • Power of Myth - J. Campbell
    Jospeh Campbell's treasured legacy is sublimely captured on this CD set. Not only does the listener have access to the amazing spiritual and societal insights of this great teacher and scholar, in addtion, there is a feeling of real intimacy and connection with the personality and spirit of Joseph Campbell....more info
  • Very Very Persuasive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have both the television series and and book transcript. From these I can see Joseph Campbell was a man that had a very persuasive speaking style and made you actually feel comfortable with what he said. He also had a way, when speaking, of smacking people in the face that followed literally these religious concepts without them even knowing it. My favorite Quote from him is, "All religion is true one way or another when understood metaphorically, but when taken literally then your in trouble." The trouble he was talking about is Christians saying your going to hell if you don't believe in Jesus, seperation in families because of diffrent religous philosophies, and and people killing or enslaving other people in the name of what ever god is popular these days. If people could put on the eyes of Campbell and take a new a new look at their holy books, things could become a lot better. Today, not only do we have race, sex and gender to seperate us, but now because of public dreams(As Campbell would say) we have religion....more info
  • A fitting Introduction
    It isn't often that one comes across a book that can be referenced again and again. This is probably best described as broad overview of the late Joseph Campbell's best work. For those who are not familiar with the scholar's previous works, including the world renowned "Hero with a Thousand Faces" (which has also been reviewed), this work covers the vast expanse of Campbell's ideas and research over the course of his lifetime. The volumes of his scholarly work may be a bit intimidating to the uninitiated, but for the casual reader who would like a taste of mythology, psychology, art and religion, this work is a great and welcome piece that should belong in every philosopher's library. The conversational style of the writing is very accessable and makes the reader feel as if they are privy to a private talk with the man himself. The breadth of knowledge and humor with which Campbell presents his material is a great way for readers to get the sense of what a lecture from the man was like. This book is the definative work on the subject and has even been condensed down to the bare bones elements by Hollywood screenwriters and playwrights. This work is also available in audio format and on DVD. Overall, a wonderful introduction to Joseph Campbell and his ideas....more info
  • The Power of Myth, A hero within us - Relate it with modern society
    He has answers to your quest. He does not wait, does not think twice, does not vary in his statements but he answers all your questions. The questions that you had been asking yourself about the purpose of your being in this world, questions about nature, questions about what is right and what is wrong.

    Different people can have different uses for Joseph Campbell's study about mythology. If Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas can create movies out of it, you or anyone else can understand the power that mythology have had in the history of human life. An author like Dave Lakhani can refer Joseph Campbell's work when he is talking about Storytelling concept (marketing). That is entirely your own perception (like always) however the point is that this book is a must read. Even if you do not read the book but do get acquainted with the concept of mythology and storytelling and it's relation to human behavior. You would be presented with great insights and would smile on many occasions.

    This is a work of a scholar, hence, how I review should not matter. Also, would try to focus on one point. The review is not just about the book but the entire concept of Mythologies. The reference to Buddha, Mohammad, Christ who understood mythologies and it is said that they used the concept to convey their message to the masses. If you are seeking information about persuasion, grow up from persuading an individual to persuading masses to lead them to what is right. This is where Mythology comes into picture. At one instance, he even mentions that Mythologies are neither truth nor lies but it is something that is generated out of the day to day problems that individuals faced in history and even today.

    "How to live a human life under any circumstances, only myths can tell you that." excerpt from the interview.

    My next book in reading is his another great work "The Hero with 1000 faces." It is a journey of how heros are formed in Mythologies and the real hero that exists within all or us....more info
  • Thoroughly enjoyed
    Wonderful audio presentation of the Bill Moyer interview with Joseph Campbell. We originally checked it out from the library for a road trip, but just had to have our own copy. Listened to it twice on a recent cross-country road trip. ...more info
  • Other Books
    A more popular look at myths and mythology, using this format to relate Campbell's studies and other works to mythological type influences that we see today, even in major media and popular culture or entertainment situations.

    When Campbell points it out, you sometimes realise what you are subconsciously missing.
    ...more info
  • Not for the Small Minded
    I've read some of the reviews on here, and it's not suprising that some frightened people like to throw around the words 'anti-semitism/christianity' because it's a convenient way to devalue an intellectuals work that they're threatened by. I originally saw the 'Power of Myth' series on PBS, and it was enthralling and eye-opening, mainly because of the way Campbell is able to take such a wide and encompassing view of all of the world's religious and spiritual systems and relate them all to a few universal truths. If more people were able to see the universal truths at the heart of humanity, rather than focusing on small minded religious quarreling, there would be less war and strife. I suggest this book to all who are open-minded, intelligent, and seeking true spirituality....more info
  • An enjoyable listen, but not as good as his lecture series
    which is available on cd. I would recommend you go to these first (they will make you feel as though you are in a college classroom again). "The Power of Myth" interviews have some good moments, such as the story of "Indra," which is worth the price of the CDs alone. But overall, good, not great.

    I think my disappointment in the series really centers around the premise that Joseph Campbell is this wise sage. The problem is Joseph Campbell's genius was not his wisdom, but rather his intelligence. Most professors are experts in one narrow field. Joseph Campbell, by contrast, was an expert in every academic subject I can think of: philosophy, psychology, history, geography, world religions, Eastern studies, anthropology and literature. (My goodness, he was even an expert on James Joyce. For most, just garnering an understanding of "Finnegan's Wake" is a lifetime achievement.)

    Campbell grouped all this coming together of knowledge under the heading of "mythology", and thereby gained a kind of glimpse into mankind that the artificially designated individual academic disciplines missed. Whereas Jung talked about the universality of mythological symbols, Campbell could actually demonstrate and delineate these symbols culture by culture, period by period.

    But Moyers, like others, wanted to turn Campbell into a Guru. And there Campbell is no wiser than any of the rest of us. His personal leaning is toward an impersonal, Buddhist type of religion and God. And that is fine for what it is worth. But Campbell is best as an academician rather than a wise man, and on this series he plays the wise man.

    Please understand, I am a fan of Campbell (with some reservations), and I am looking forward to getting some more of his college lectures, which I love. I recommend this tape only as a follow up to his lecture series....more info
  • Campbell's cross
    The Power of Myth is a transcription of Bill Moyers' marvelous series of interviews with comparative mythology expert Joseph Campbell. In the Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell asserts that all salient mythological tales suggest a universal, transcendent, and most importantly spiritual reality of the human existence. According to Campbell, myths comprise a vast body of wisdom that recognize the essence of our transcendent existence, and that modern society should not arrogantly dismiss these expositions of the human experience as primitive tall-tales. More tersely, Campbell himself concluded, "Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life." (5)

    One conspicuous element of this book is Campbell's extraordinary knowledge of myths. Remembering this book is essentially an interview, for Campbell to quickly and successfully invoke myth after myth, tale after tale, book after book with both clarity and exactitude is simply astounding. Using his plethora of mythological invocations, Campbell asserts that one must comprehend religions and myths alike metaphorically rather than literally in order to glean their true significance. Surveying Native American and East Asian myths and religions, Campbell shows the power of symbols in elucidating the truth of those "spiritual potentialities."

    However, Campbell seems to have a problematic relationship with monotheisms such as Christianity. Raised a Catholic, he continually suggests the need for the Monotheistic religions - Islam, Judaism, Christianity - to adapt from a dogmatic insistence on literal truth. Indeed, while Campbell constantly uses Christ to evoke the transcendent and spiritual messages of myths/religions, he also teases heresy by suggesting a metaphorical rather than literal significance of Christ. In fact, he asserts that Christ - like Buddha - merely experienced the spiritual being of existence with the greatest of magnitudes. His conspicuous allusions to gnostic descriptions of Christ further intimate what Campbell constantly dances around and what I believe he really wants to and - based on his thesis - should say: the explicit blasphemy that Christ is not the son of God, nor does one get to 'heaven' or 'spiritual bliss' only through him.

    Christ is the principal example of another unfortunate trend within Campbell's allusions. This trend is the selective 'hand-picking' of stories and passages of mythological and religious tales/texts that suit Campbell's thesis. With Christ, Campbell discriminately invokes passages and axioms that reaffirm the spiritual/universal motifs of all religious/mythic traditions - "Love thy enemies," or the monistic/gnostic aphorism "He who drinks from my mouth will be as I am, and I shall be he." (69) Such quotations, while appropriate in buttressing Campbell's contention regarding the significance of a symbol, ignore Christ's specific and overt references to messianic stature, divinity, etc. This exclusion is understandable - Campbell does not believe such literal value to religion/myth.

    Campbell remains inflexibly averse to acknowledging that many myths do not have this spiritual significance, nor do all myths evoke this spiritual/transcendent essence of human experience. In fact, many myths convey primarily aetiological and historical value, and while any scholar prone to over interpretation can 'infer' all the meaning he/she wants, this does not detract from the truth that not all myths conform to Campbell's thesis. When certain myths do contradict his premise, he simply dismisses them as 'folk tales' rather than myths. (Paul Bunyan is the example Moyers invokes)

    Campbell adroitly and poetically ties together many spiritual themes and messages of disparate cultures and beliefs, and while I do believe in his essential premise regarding myth, his flagrant disdain for western society and its materialism does lead to a biased investigation of the past. At one point, Campbell exalts the Iroquois' and north-eastern Indians emphasis on 'return to the source' sacrifice of tribesmen. Telling how these tribes exercised complete and fatal torture upon war captives, and how exhibiting suffering through facial/oral displays was a sign of weakness, he recounts with disgusting admiration such a culture and the story of a young boy who was 'happy' toward such an end. It is this unhealthy nostalgia that leads him to other examples of ludicrous romanticism for the myths/cultures of our albeit more spiritual past. A great example is Campbell's absurd nostalgia for the spiritualism of the middle ages, at which point even Moyers stepped in and contested Campbell's claim, reminding him that the Middle Ages was a terrible and inegalitarian time. Not everything in our past - no matter how spiritual - was good, nor is everything in our present - however materialist - bad.

    Ultimately all the faults of Campbell in this book must be forgiven for the simple fact that this book is an interview! Campbell was speaking extemporaneously at times, and could not and did not benefit from the circumspect contemplation, discretion, revision, etc. that one retains when writing at one's own leisure instead of speaking upon another's questioning. In the end, I agree with Campbell: turning our backs on our spiritual past is imprudent, just as is refusing to import spiritual meaning to our material existence simply due to the 'literal' inconsistencies/contradictions of past spiritual expositions and their present personal exponents. We could all benefit from a critical and metaphorical examination of the similarities of myths, which are so alarmingly similar as to suggest either cultural diffusion or the homogeneity of the human psyche. Campbell definitely leans towards the latter. I also agree with Campbell's heretical assertion that the major religions: must adapt, must relinquish their claims to literal truth and physical sovereignty, and must understand that they are one fabric of a vast veil under which lies man's true spiritual being....more info
  • Quick access to Campbell and myth
    Together with "Pathways to Bliss" an easy but excellent way to understand Campbell, and the best entrance to myth I know. A recommended read before tackling his big books and series of books.
    ...more info
  • The AUM of Being
    The Power of Myth is inspiring. One holds it in one's hand and feels that somewhere inside it the great riddle of life awaits awakening, and for each of us a unique journey, a myth of one's own, and redemption. The redeption of the knowledge of being alive, or what Campbell writes "the experience of being alive". (3) If being a hero according to Campbell is giving your life to "something bigger than oneself", Campbell is a hero himself. (151) ...more info
  • A very interesting read and infomative!
    I found this book to be quite interesting and running the gamut between challengeing one's ideas about life to how we actually fit in life. This book is packed with life wisdom. The books format is a question and answer format with Joseph Campbell who clearly has spent his life studying the myths which man has chosen to live by. I can see why some people get unglued when they read this book for it is hard to have one's view so closely examined in an objective manner rather than a subjective one. I found I was able to read through it quickly and really understand what the author intended. Give it read, you won't be disapointed. ...more info
  • "A Revolutionary Impact"
    I spent many years as a person of faith before I encountered the perspective that I now identify with Joseph Campbell. The guiding idea of this book, as well as his work overall, is that of discovering the deep principles that are at work in the myths or stories of all cultures. He has challenged me to think anew about the "myth of Christianity" and how it is, in the words of Gordon Kaufman of Harvard Divinity School, "an imaginative human construct."

    The most intriguing discussion of the book is reported as a conversation of Campbell with Bill Moyers. In response to Campbell's assertion that he was seeeking "for a centering in terms of deep pinciples," Moyers said, "You are talking about a search for the meaning of life." But Campbell would have none of that. He responds, "No! I am talking about the experience of being alive! People say that what we're seeking is a meaning in life. I don't think that is what we are really seeking. I think that what we are seeking is the experience of being alive so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive."

    At this point I want to disagree with Campbell, a choice I make with trepidation. What he is saying doesn't seem anything more than the "will to pleasure," with a dash of ecstasy through in as flavoring. Epicurus didn't convince me and Campbell isn't succeeding either.

    But because I have such a genuine respect for the thrust of Campbell's work I knew that I had to think again about the question of the source of meaning. Who is right -- Freud or Adler or Frankl or Campbell? I tend to side with Frankl but there is reason to give other perspectives their due. I understand Campbell's assertion to mean that the "will to pleasure" or "the rapture of being allive" is the heart of the human experience. I doubt that he or Freud can defend that view successfully in a world of such misery. It's a view that is more hopeful than realistic. Not convincing. The darker side of human nature is rejected. Or, at minimun, ignored. Yet the fact that I was confronted in such a way that I had to think my perspective through again is a STRONG recommendation of this book! Read it and enjoy it. The fact it was written several years ago as a report of a television program doesn't lessen its value. Along with "the new cosmology" and the "Jesus Seminar," Campbell's notion of myth has had "a revolutionary impact" on me....more info
  • One of the best storytellers of our time!
    This was required reading for a graduate course in the Humanities. This is a great book written by a very engaging storyteller. Joseph Campbell describes the monomyth in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces as embodying all the necessary elements of the hero's journey in the many myths in human history. Campbell discovered through extensive research that humankind shares a universal monomyth in its various religions and legends especially pertaining to the creation of the world and humankind. Campbell borrowed the term monomyth from James Joyce's book Finnegan's Wake. Campbell's intuitive insight in human myth proves that for thousands of years these myths display a certain standard structure, which he summarizes beautifully in his book.

    A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a
    region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there
    encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back
    from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons
    on his fellow man (Campbell 30).

    There are at least four major stages that a monomyth has however, in his book, Campbell goes on to describe seventeen stages that some monomyth's posses. The four stages making up the cycle of a monomyth are "passage: separation-initiation-return:" In the passage stage the hero is summoned to journey or embark on an adventure by some kind of event that takes place or from a message, he receives. The hero may embark on this passage willingly or reluctantly. During the separation stage, the hero meets with a mentor or wise man who gives the hero either an amulet or some words of wisdom to be of help to the hero on the adventure. It is during this stage that the hero will go through his first transformation, also known as "crossing the first threshold," as he crosses over to another world or dimension leaving behind the old world. In the initiation stage, the hero goes through several trials or tests. The hero often receives help in these ordeals along the way by allies or from a supernatural force. As the hero completes these ordeals successfully, he proves himself more worthy to continue the adventure. Most importantly, during this stage the hero must pass through a major ordeal that will expand his consciousness, and thereby change his character forever. Often, this ordeal entails the death of an ally or enemy. Once the hero successful accomplishes his ordeal he is rewarded with a gift, it could be intrinsic like the "holy grail, or it can be new found knowledge to better the world with. The last stage the hero travels is that of the return whence he came. Often the hero will undergo further trials on his return before he is permitted to cross the threshold back to the world he left. During his return journey, the hero will use his newfound wisdom or gift to make a safe return home. Once home the gift is used to cure some ill in the hero's home or to impart new wisdom to his neighbors.

    Campbell points to the significance of the monomyth in the fact that it describes the cycle that Moses, Jesus, and Buddha had gone through according to their religious adherents. This is not to mention the hundreds of other monomyths told throughout human history. The monomyth proves that humankind shares a common creation DNA in a sense. The monomyth is the perfect vehicle for one to study the Humanities by.

    Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy.

    ...more info
  • What a Wonderful Book
    Joseph Campbell knows his subject, mythology and religious stories, so well that you can tell it has become instinctual for him to tie all the world's imagery and symbology together in a way that connects human beings in a truly transcendent way. This book clarifies how similar we all really are, at the core of our beings, despite where we live and in what millenia we are living in. So full of rich, thought-provoking conversation, I would recommend this to everyone, from young to old. It is just an awesome book that makes you fall in love with humans and human nature -- bad and good alike. ...more info
  • Brilliant, brilliant book.
    This book is absolutely brilliant. It is a transcript of the conversations of Joseph Cambell and Bill Moyers. It is a fairly easy read, yet the ideas and genius of Campbell are ingenius and transformative. Reading this book, it brought to life the meaning and magic of myths and stories. I would recommend this book to everyone. Every person will walk away from reading this with something incredibly valuable. ...more info
  • Simply Life Changing
    Thank you Joseph Campbell for all your research, devotion and unselfishness in bringing us this compilation.

    If this man were still alive, I'd seek him out and listen as long as I possible could.

    Someone had to do it and he has figured it out. If you are interested in learning why things are the way they are today, just look into history, right? Right. Joseph Campbell is like a guiding light that shines on the stories we're never heard but felt in our hearts. He recants the stories we should have know about, the ones that could have changed things for the best. The stories of our collective lives as humans on this planet.

    If you're not convinced that you should read this book, check out the Joseph Campbell foundation online to learn more about the master.

    This particular book is entirely based on a conversation between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. You can get the DVD from I recommend this for anyone that can't absorb a lot of information from written words. I have to read and reread each page before it sinks in. Get the DVD. If you can afford either, go get a used version of the book.

    You won't be sorry. This is an amazing book! ...more info
  • Excellent!
    This is one of the best books I have read. Definitely words to consider, no matter who you are. It works best in conjunction with either the DVD or the VHS tape of the interview....more info
  • Brilliant
    Both Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyer create a must read from their historic interview. This book has become my blueprint....more info
  • Superior Work

    - As an author myself, I highly recommend that you purchase this book for personal study. "The Power of Myth" is a fascinating book and video that helped me understand philosophical conceptions of cultures worldwide, life, death, and immaterial reality. It got rid of my learned prejudices.
    Author. "Knowledge For Tomorrow" Quinton D. Crawford

    ...more info
  • The Power of Myth
    Each time I listen to the CD, I hear something new about myself and the world in which I live. The power of the discussions and the insights presented make me more connected with all things around me. A must CD for all!!! ...more info
  • Yummy!
    This book is quite a change from "The Hero With A Thousand Faces." It is conversational, flowing, and not as stiff and academic as Campbell's masterwork. In a word, it is vibrant. As Moyers and Campbell debate, you fell his energy and passion for myth, and more import, the relevance of these old myths in this brave, new world.

    A disclaimer: You can be a Christian and enjoy these myths. C. S. Lewis observed, "If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all other religions are simply wrong all through." (Mere Christianity, Bk. 2, ch. 1). Moreover, anyone familiar with Lewis's background in "Surprised By Joy," and "Pilgrim's Regress" knows that these myths were essential in getting him to Christianity. Or you may want to read Aesop's fables and then reread the Narnia books. You will be rather surprised by the similarities. Or read "Till We Have Faces," and the legend of Eros and Psyche.

    I'm not sure if this book is a good introduction or a good coda to "Hero." It is definitely a distillation in common English about the stores that we all know and love.

    They cover the full arc of the Hero Cycle, devoting a chapter to each segment. I found the chapter on love to be fascinating, how we shifted from eros (sexual love) and agape (charity, or Platonic Love), to amor, which is romantic love, in particular. I was amazed that both in Greece and in India, the god of love is depicted as an archer, and being in love is like being shot. How true

    Another insight was that the person who shot you with love is the only person who can heal you. This may be a key insight to psychology, and therefore a benefit in therapy. If you feel infected with love, you have to deal with the person who first infected you. You can ever be healed, except by reconciling yourself with that person.

    Campbell's main weakness is that he assumes that we are all have a working knowledge with the Greek and Roman myths. This is not true, and I suggest getting "Bullfinch's Mythology" (ISBN: 0375751475) to fill in the gaps. It would also be helpful to have a copy of the Bible, too (ISBN: 0192835254).

    I do not believe it a sin to enjoy art, nor myths for that matter. They have wisdom and insight into humanity, and that is worth the work....more info
  • Song Of The Universe
    This is a great book to introduce anyone to the brilliant work of Joseph Campbell. It is a wonderful way to learn about the six major themes in mythology and how they relate to so many other subjects. It is through Campbell's work that I have been exposed in greater depths to other subjects such as art, history, psychology, music, poetry, and other brilliant thinkers. I especailly love what Campbell says in one of his interviews with Bill Moyers on PPS about how the artist is someone who hears the Song Of The Universe while others are deaf to it. This statement along with what mythology means to the human spirit continues to inspire my poetry writing, my poem "Song Of The Universe" is a tribute to Campbell's message to the world. ...more info
  • Symbology light
    This book, The Power of Myth, is a slightly expanded and re-edited version of the Moyers/Campbell interviews, now nicely illustrated and organized more or less by general topic or concept. It is not exhaustive, but does give one a taste of what Campbell's life work was all about.

    What was it all about? Man's short span on earth, consumed by a search for self-meaning, has generated innumerable stories, myths, symbols and subcontexts, archetypes familiar and unfamiliar, all pointing in generally the same direction, often strikingly similar in nature and tone. Campbell's work in comparitive religion and mythology contrasted and compiled and amazing variety of these, and through his many books charted the course of our search for ourselves, and meaning in the universe. Along the way he discarded more popular notions of organized religion in favor of a more individual path, neatly summarizable as, "Follow your bliss."

    The book itself is organized by concept, i.e. the Mother Goddess, the Hero, Love & Marriage, the Journey Inward, and so on, but again and again, through culture after culture, the message resonates the same. These conversations are often insightful, always wide-ranging, and from time to time deeply personal, but always interesting. While by itself this book will teach few people much, they may well steer them to Campbell's much deeper examination of the various topics he here touches upon, and in that sense the book is well worth reading if only to whet the neophytes appetites in that way.

    A well done and nicely illustrated volume with plenty to think about and consider....more info


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