The following post was taken directly from an email sent to me by my friend, Jon. Jon is a brilliant writer and thinker from DC (I know Ralph is a big fan of his work). I thought it was interesting that Jon sent me an email about Joe Campbell on the same day that Ralph mentioned the collective unconscious and the LA Clippers. Anyway, we'd like to have Jon submit regularly to Ralph's Place. Consider this his first entry. Doc.
I’ve recently been on something of a Joseph Campbell binge. I almost have to laugh now thinking back to my initial reaction upon hearing of Campbell and his work, which was – to me now – surprisingly negative. I don’t know what I must’ve been smoking. It’s like something inside me triggered this false “intruder alert” reflex as though my core values were suddenly under siege and the only thing I could think to do was to quickly erect some strong defenses.
And that’s a testament, I suppose, to the power of what Campbell was putting out – that exposure to it could elicit that kind of response. Surely that confirms he was onto something pretty potent.
I was just telling a friend the other day that my finally coming around to Campbell just shows you how there’s a proper time for everything, and to not respect that can lead to frustration. I guess what I’m saying is that when DokTorDee first approached me – with such excitement, I remember – with this wonderful new thing that he’d discovered, I was just not in a place where I could receive it.
Or, I should say, I could not receive it without subjecting it to all sorts of judgments. It’s taken me this long, I guess, to finally arrive at a place where I can experience Campbell’s teachings with openness.
I recently re-read “Thou Art That,” read for the first time parts of “The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology,” and just started reading “Myths to Live By.” The experience has me seeing the world quite differently. I’m not sure where it’s all headed but I’m enjoying the ride.
I almost feel like I want to affiliate myself with a Campbell study group or something. There must be such a thing out there (in DC at least).
Here’s an radical question: Do you think the study and experience of myth can or should REPLACE religion in one’s life? Because lately I’ve been feeling a deeper experience of the divine through what I’m learning about mythology than anything I’ve ever felt as a participant in organized religion.
I’m starting to feel like cultivating a deep understanding of mythology – studying and musing on it regularly – makes the need for religion seem almost beside the point.
What do you think?