In the latter half of the 20th century, mythologist Joseph Campbell’s vast body of work — from “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” in 1949 to the broadcast of “Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers” just months after his passing — resuscitated interest in comparative mythology, revitalizing the study of the field that Campbell called “the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.”
However, that interest hasn’t necessarily translated into formal acceptance on college campuses. “Academia doesn’t seem to know what to do with mythology,” says Stephen Gerringer of the Joseph Campbell Foundation. Continue reading The Power — and the Study — of Myth
So I’ve had this experience a number of times in the past few weeks: someone starts talking about this wonderful Joseph Campbell book they’ve read, Pathways to Bliss…
And I find myself feeling very shy.
Here’s the thing. Part of me is tickled pink—I spent two years of my life on the bloody book, and so it’s gratifying to hear that it had a profound affect on someone. Part of me is a bit astonished, because all I see when I open it are the typos. (I haven’t found a new one in a while—it’s been out seven years—but I know they’re in there somewhere, mocking me.)
And part of me bristles. Joseph Campbell book? Yeah, yeah, he’s the author and all of that, but who do think pulled the gorram thing together???
See, editors don’t do readings. We don’t do book tours. We don’t do radio interviews. And so we aren’t confronted with the affect our work has on readers on quite as immediate a level.
We also don’t get to toot our own horns. At least, not very loudly.
And yet there’s a part of me that definitely wants to say, “Hey! I’m listed on the title page too! My blood, sweat, and cerebral matter are splattered across every page of that book!”
Which is silly. But interesting.
Just thought I’d share that.