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Joseph Campbell is awful
When one can strip all the shit away and lay themselves bare before themselves in ultimate honesty anything Campbell or watts or this temple's doctrine has to say becomes meaningless. Each piece becomes but a sliver in an endless sea of slivers embedded into an infinate haystack. To pick any one of them up and arrogantly declair "This is it!" "This is truth"! Has missed the point of the haystack and that's one of the saddest experiences any human could ever undergo. It makes my spirit weep in sorrow to see people in that state.
But if we don't also pick up each sliver in Campbell and watts and and many others and spend a moment studying them then we have missed the point once again. We will never comprehend the haystack but if we give up trying we are just as lost.
I have come to a place where I'm no longer even sure if there is a question or even if i possess any sort of free will at all. It's up to each of us to take this journey as deep as you want to take it. I feel sorry for those that stop at one sliver and declair this is truth just as much as I feel sorry for those that ignore the sliver and declair there is no wisdom there for me to discover.
So I implore each of you to pick up any sliver presented and study it. It may prick you and it may soothe you, it doesn't matter, what matters is the experience of it. And through that experience we build our own splinter to add to the pile.
Vusuki wrote: So can you give some clear examples where a myth or story doesn't fit Campbell's idea of the Hero's Journey? I'm very interested in testing if it is possible to use the theory on any myth or whether I have to accord only a specific fragment of the model to the myth you give...
I don't believe all myths tell part of a whole story. There are many myth paradigms and Campbell's is only one form. He does conveniently ignore anything that does not fit his narrative. The Heroine for example. He considers the female roles in myth as a prize for the hero. According to Campbell there is no such thing as Heroine and females cannot have their own story without being intertwined with his version of "Hero". There are several other versions as well, including the anti hero story and the Homeric hero story, none of which follow the cycle that Campbell describes.
Kyrin- thanks for your time replying. I'm going to try to explore the Heroine idea you brought up and the Anti Hero story, (I don't know much about the Homeric hero story) but for later- what other myth paradigms are there please? I'm just playing with the ideas here.
1) When you say "he [Campbell] considers the female roles in myth as a prize for the hero", isn't Campbell simply describing how the myths they themselves present the female role (which represents their culture and values)?
2) I think there's a clarification to be made between the Heroine and the female role and this distinction is made by Campbell when he gives examples in his book, (Hero with a Thousand Faces) where Campbell does refer to (for-want-of-a-better-word) "feministic" myths (he doesn't call them that though) where the heroine as the main character in the myth goes on a similar adventure like any male hero from another myth. You gave some examples of women in myth earlier- which one do you think best rejects Campbell's mono-myth ideal?
3) I think even though the word Hero is usually seen in a masculine sense, it does not mean it is only for men (although that might be how it is portrayed by some cultures)- it is more overarching and is beyond masculinity or femininity so yes, in a way you're right than females cannot have their own story without being intertwined with Campbell's version of "Hero" but in another universe this would be the same with different words, that men cannot have their own story without being intertwined with a version of the "Heroine". Did Campbell ever say the "Hero" was ever just a man? I believe he said or at least implied that every one of us, men and woman are the Hero archetype.
The Anti-hero Story. Do you know of any Anti-Hero story from long ago? Maybe the one about Loki being a trickster god could count... but he is usually a side character or an obstacle to overcome rather than the main character/hero/anti-hero in the old myths. I think one of Campbell's premises was that myths have lasted so long because they seemed important to people throughout time. I wonder whether the Punisher or Deadpool will be remembered and revered like the myths of old. In a way, I think Anti-hero stories are more entertaining to us of today than meaningful. Possibly the same can be same for Hero stories of today like Spiderman, Superman and Batman. Maybe the fact that most anti-hero stories exist today show how our current culture feels that the lines between good and wrong are blurry and unclear as opposed to in the past (when religion played a major part in morality.). Stories of the anti-hero were inappropriate and deemed immoral by authorities and were likely destroyed. I wonder...
I've been trying to find some links disproving Campbell. I thought the wikipedia entry with criticism was interesting. There was some support to the idea that the Heroine's journey is different somehow to the male version supported by two books, The Heroine's Journey (1990) by Maureen Murdock and From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine's Journey through Myth and Legend (2010), by Valerie Estelle Frankel. Have you read either one of them Kyrin?
In any case, during this entire conversation and some research, I think I learning that I'm probably wrong to think that Campbell's model fits every story. That just fits another model I have about confirmation bias and that no one model accurately describes any one thing. There's usually a forgotten context or environmental factors that we just aren't aware of. What you know is less likely to take you by surprise than what you don't know. Additionally, there is sometimes a problem that we don't know that we don't know. We just fool ourselves into thinking we do... Still, Campbell's model is a good model for describing quite a few stories and connecting them together, if that's what you want to do. It also has helped me think about my own life in perhaps a more constructive way than before... Anyone feel they have another preferred model to seeing their own life than Campbells?
Below: Chapter of Criticism of the Monomyth from wikipedia posted in spoiler
Scholars have questioned the validity or usefulness of the monomyth category.
According to Northup (2006), mainstream scholarship of comparative mythology since Campbell has moved away from "highly general and universal" categories in general. This attitude is illustrated by e.g. Consentino (1998), who remarks "It is just as important to stress differences as similarities, to avoid creating a (Joseph) Campbell soup of myths that loses all local flavor." Similarly, Ellwood (1999) stated "A tendency to think in generic terms of people, races ... is undoubtedly the profoundest flaw in mythological thinking."
Others have found the categories Campbell works with so vague as to be meaningless, and lacking the support required of scholarly argument: Crespi (1990), writing in response to Campbell's filmed presentation of his model characterized it as "... unsatisfying from a social science perspective. Campbell's ethnocentrism will raise objections, and his analytic level is so abstract and devoid of ethnographic context that myth loses the very meanings supposed to be embedded in the 'hero.'" In Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth (1984), editor Alan Dundes dismisses Campbell's work, characterizing him as a popularizer: "like most universalists, he is content to merely assert universality rather than bother to document it. […] If Campbell's generalizations about myth are not substantiated, why should students consider his work?"
In a similar vein, American philosopher John Shelton Lawrence and American religious scholar Robert Jewett have discussed an "American Monomyth" in many of their books, The American Monomyth, The Myth of the American Superhero (2002), and Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism (2003). They present this as an American reaction to the Campbellian monomyth. The "American Monomyth" storyline is: A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat; a selfless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condition; the superhero then recedes into obscurity.
The monomyth has also been criticized for focusing on the masculine journey. The Heroine's Journey (1990) by Maureen Murdock and From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine's Journey through Myth and Legend (2010), by Valerie Estelle Frankel, both set out what they consider the steps of the female hero's journey, which is different from Campbell's monomyth.
According to changingminds.org, "[Campbell's] much admired and much-copied pattern has also been criticized as leading to 'safe' moviemaking, in which writers use his structure as a template, thus leading to 'boring' repeats, albeit in different clothes."
While Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) on the surface appears to follow the monomyth, this was in fact to subvert it and take a critical view, as the author said in 1979, "The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better [to] rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes." He wrote in 1985, "Dune was aimed at this whole idea of the infallible leader because my view of history says that mistakes made by a leader (or made in a leader's name) are amplified by the numbers who follow without question."
Science fiction author David Brin in a 1999 Salon article criticized the monomyth template as supportive of "despotism and tyranny", indicating that he thinks modern popular fiction should strive to depart from it in order to support more progressivist values."
While the Heroes journey is primarily an external journey the heroines journey is an internal one. It is about learning to suffer and endure. The Heroine is subjected to indignity while maintaining grace, composure, and patience. Most heroic stories involve some element of perseverance through strength of will. On the other hand the Heroine’s Journey is different in that a heroine’s perseverance is tested not to see whether she can persevere to achieve a separate goal, but rather simply to see if she can persevere, period. The Chinese legend of Hua Mulan might be a good example.
Kyrin Wyldstar wrote: The Chinese legend of Hua Mulan might be a good example
In contemplating this, another great example of this has been my journey here at this temple. It definitely has not been a heroic struggle to achieve but an internal struggle to persevere and grow in the face of indignity.
Part of the lesson isn’t about the author but about the subject so keep that in mind as well if you can - regardless of the author the first lesson is about the myth. The myth - what do you think of it - seen it - recognize it- use it- see it- where when how does it have any relevance to you - how do you use it if any? The myth -
I can understand the distaste for Campbell, but his accreditation is unimportant. A degree doesn't determine your knowledge in any area; I have known philosophers with a better understanding of physics and the material sciences than many people with degrees working in the field. The fact that he doesn't have a theology degree is of no concern; the man dedicated his time to researching a particular topic, mythology, and he aims to present a unified theory of examination in that field. I will admit that he takes it a bit far, as there are many conflicting cultures and religions, with myths aiming to demonstrate different moral or metaphysical ideals, but his monomyth is useful for establishing a unified terminology for common story elements. A streamlined dictionary is very useful, and Campbell at least attempts to do so.