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Alan Watts, widely known lecturer and transmitter of Zen Buddhist ideas in the United States and Britain, offers his thoughts on ...
Alan Watts, widely known lecturer and transmitter of Zen Buddhist ideas in the United States and Britain, offers his thoughts on Western mythology, its characteristics, its defects, and its place in the contemporary life of the mind. What use has it for us? What problems does it pose?
From this we proceed to David Miller's proposal of Orestes, subject of ancient Greek mythology and drama, as a useful model around which our contemporary concerns may coalesce. Through his discussion of Orestes he explores the meaning of catharsis, and the roles of myth and dream in the psychotherapeutic process of catharsis--therapeutic in that the dream, or myth, is a "vision of wholeness," projected in the magic mirror of the imagination to heal an incompleteness in mortal existence.
From myth and dream in connection with an ancient Greek figure we move in the following essays to myth and dream in the Hebrew scripture and in Christian scripture, and from there to Norman O. Brown's close reading of the myth of Daphne and Apollo. Brown's books Life Against Death and Love's Body have been enduring classics, and his exposition of the Daphne story here is loaded with fascinating literary references and allusions.
Next, in "Myth, Dream, and Imagnation," Stanley Hopper addresses the modern "crisis of the imagination" and the recession of mythic figures into the background behind the rising technological world; this leads him to an examination of irony's inherent role in modern aesthetic-mythic affirmations. Joseph Campbell himself, author of the justly famous book The Hero With a Thousand Faces and many others, offers a concise essay on mythological themes in art that culminates with an examination of the creation of living myth.
Posted April 24, 2013
Myth, Dreams, and Religion is a collection of eleven essays written by various authors, including Alan Watts, Davis Miller, Stanley Romaine Hopper and Joseph Campbell himself. Published in 1970 the themes examine Western mythology, myth and dream as catharsis, myth and dream in Hebrew and Christian scripture as well as contemporary philosophy. The books' subjects include a wide spectrum running from Greek Philosophy, the dilemma of modern man, similarities and differences in Freud and Jung's approaches to dreams, the paradigm of human nature, the different meanings and executions of catharsis to the significance of ritual and the liberation of the imagination.
Campbell unifies all of these essays by identifying four functions of the traditional myth and three attitudes that man approaches and renders myth with. Rollo May examines the power of the daimonic forces behind myth and the individual, sorting the destructive from the creative and the integrative to the dis-integrative behavior that may follow suit. Owen Barfield reviews levels on consciousness in his essay Dream, Myth and Philosophical Double Vision.
Finally, Ricahrd A. Underwood solicits exemplification from one of the best philosophers of the twentieth century, quoting Nietzsche in his essay, Myth, Dream, and the Vocation of Contemporary Philosophy; "A period which suffers from a so-called high general level of liberal education but which is devoid of culture in the sense of a unity of style which characterizes all its life will not quite know what to do with philosophy and wouldn't, if the genius of Truth himself were to proclaim it in the streets of and the market places. During such times philosophy remains the learned monologue of the lonely stroller, the accidental loot of the individual, the secret skeleton in the closet, or the harmless chatter between senile academics and children."
All in all, I enjoyed the book much more than I had thought I would originally. It deserves a place on my bookshelf right next to Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Last American Man.
Posted October 29, 2002
Posted July 4, 2001
This is one of the most interesting books I've ever read.I was always interested in mythology and was reccomended to read Joseph Campbell.This book is edited by him. You get a taste of other essays too. Wonderful! Wonderful!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.