Myths, Dreams, and Religion: Eleven Visions of Connectionby Joseph Campbell
In this volume, five theologians, three psychiatrists, two scholars of Asian civilization, and one comparative mythologist offer essays written independently, yet mysteriously complementary, and arranged by editor Joseph Campbell "in such a way that if read in sequence there will follow a fairly orderly progression of thought, from one to the next."
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.
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