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Posted March 27, 2000
Incredible book for serious writers, artists or even lawyers
Reading Joseph Campbell books is like¿. First you walk out into a clear desert night, a cloudless sky above, and you see many stars. There are the patterns of stars described by the zodiac signs, but those patterns are haphazard, jerky, and ¿not real.¿ Those are the patterns people strain to create from apparent chaos because they do not have the tools to see deeper into space. They do not have the tools to see the Real patterns. But there are those people who do have the tools, and one such implement is the telescope. The better the telescope, and the more you learn where to look, the better you see the patterns. You see entire galaxies, binary stars, and those exploding. There are black holes. Life and death throughout the universe, and there are repeated themes everywhere you look. Only the details change. You may not understand the archetypical galaxies, or how they dance together in some great symphony that physicists are forever struggling to describe, but the fact that there ARE patterns is obvious. The rules apparently don¿t change, just the details in how they are expressed. This is nothing new, and it is certainly not a revelation that patterns occur, too, within us. Perhaps myths are like internal galaxies, swirling about within us by certain rules, and then there is ¿that uncertainty thing¿ that we hope might translate into free will. Well, this review seems a bit galactic itself, and perhaps a bit out there, but Joseph Campbell, with this book, has provided a telescope that points to certain galaxies within each person and population, galaxies which reverberate throughout humankind past, present, and future. And though Campbell helps us see these galaxies, there obviously remains much to be explained. One of the interesting things about the act of peering through a telescope is in knowing that other people have looked, or will look, through the same apparatus. Will they see what you see? How will others interpret messages delivered by photons that zip through space into their curious eyes? Recently I read a book called 'Danger Close' by Mike Yon. It is the true story of an American soldier who was charged with murder in Maryland. Throughout the book I noticed themes, patterns and so forth. At times it seemed as though the author were winking at a small (a very small) section of the readership. The author seemed to allude to Joseph Campbell and his discoveries. In the final hilarious chapter of Danger Close, the future soldier, then a teenager in a Florida high school uttered, ¿sat chit ananda¿ to his raging school principal. And that was when I knew the author had studied his art beyond the writing of a single true sentence; he said so clearly to those few who could read the signs. The author had peered through the telescope created by Joseph Campbell, had seen the galaxies swirling, and had applied the principles of Creative Mythology to a true story, and perhaps that is why 'Danger Close' is categorized as ¿creative nonfiction.¿ The book, or rather the author, even won the very prestigious William A. Gurley award for application of scholarship. I have also noticed that a certain lawyer, a man who wins his cases without fail, sub fuses mythology in his winning arguments. The lawyer uses symbolism and the structure of myth tirelessly, presenting contemporary cases as if they were epic drama. Some of these stories, when presented to juries, have returned verdicts worth tens of millions of dollars. THAT is an example of the power of ¿applied myth.¿ 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' is a ¿must read,¿ a part of the training, for any serious writer, artist, or anyone who wishes to reach people on a basic level, or to better understand some of the powerful galaxies swirling within us.
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