Joseph Campbell: A Modern Sage

Link: Joseph Campbell: A Modern Sage this is a link that has RealAudio format, which is very old. The open source VLC media player can open this link.

Personal note: i did this transcription while living in the basement of a church in Amman Jordan during the outbreak of the Syria war during 2011 in the Arab Spring... ding my Levant Quran, Torah, Bible study and Great Seal United States of America study...

My personal scribbles of transcription, very poor quality, but here you go:

Joseph Campbell is the youngest of the great quartet of Jung's best scholarly interpreters: Zeigler, ????, Wilhelm and himself

The only American of the four, he was born in New York City in 1904. And he was educated at Columbia University, the University of Paris, and the University of Munich in Bavaria. In 1934, after having lived for a while in California, he joined the Literary Faculty of Sarah Lawrence College where he taught until his retirement.

Quite early in his life, he became acquainted with C G Jung and he became a devoted follower, although not a psychologist himself. Since the late 1930's or early 1940's, he was a participant in the famous Eranos conferences. And in 1954, began the publication of the first of six volumes of papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, in English, under the title Of Spirit and Nature. This, of course, needs a little bit of elucidation. Eranos is a Greek word meaning a particular kind of banquet.

I suppose in undignified and prosaic American-ease, one might call it a “pot luck”. It's a banquet where everyone brings his share, whatever his share might be.  And, when Carl Jung and Madam ?Orgafrigatain? and a number of other people began planning... to organize an annual convocation of outstanding individuals of a similar inclination and interest, who might share their ideas with each other, and with the culture, in an elegant – but informal setting... Professor Rudolph Otto – at that time at ?? University

proposed that they call them the Eranos meetings. And such indeed did these magnificent events

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That the creative group, the glowing edge of Europe at that time, was very much present in the occult world and in the depth-psychological world. And there was a certain passing back and forth from the two, and in some cases, there was a kind of double-membership in both camps.

So, in 1933 the first Eranos Conference was held. Present were Heimlich Ziegler, at that time from Heidelberg, Mrs. Ruth Davids, the famous Buddhist scolar from London, GR Heighr from Munic, a whole number of other people. And last, but certainly not least, C G Jung from Zürich. … The theme which was “Yoga and Meditation of East and West”


But, as Campbell pointed out, the interest soon shifted from the meeting of East and West, to the West of meeting itself – and it's own destiny.  And so the Eranos Conferences went on year after year. During the war years...

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Such were the wonderful and outstanding and unusual people who gathered year after year at the Villa Gabriela and Eranos Hall.  The only constant was, of course C J Jung, of whom Campbell wrote in that respect: “the continuous presence of the genius spirit of Doctor C G Jung, whose concept of the fundamental psychological laws of human life and sort, supplied the criterion for both the recognition and fostering of the terenial? in a period of transformation” Campbell then became the editor of the English edition of the yearbooks, which were translated by R. 

I think the truly seminal importance of Eranos in those years cannot be exaggerated and neglected

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These were people who knew that joy and fun were quite compatible with spirituality and scholarship. And one wishes that this attitude was generally more prevalent today. The world would be a lot better off for it.

Campbell, largely as the result of his involvements with the Eranos conferences, became a proste? of the then-young Bolingin? foundation. And he remained such for ten years.  Meanwhile, he continued teaching at Sarah Lawrence and he wrote his monumental four-volume study of world mythology published between 1964 and 1968, The Masks of God, entitled individually: Primitive Mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mythology, and Creative Mythology.

In his teaching field he wrote in collaboration with the noted Henry Morton Robinson, The Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. In the 1960's, his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces achieved considerable popularity as the result of the then-unfolding counter-culture Renaissance. 

And it elevated Campbell himself to the statue of a hero, or cult figure, whichever way one wishes to express it. For Viking, he edited the splendid Portable Jung, still the most useful of anthologies of Jung's writing. As well as the Portable Arabian Knights. In his collection of lectures, entitled Myths to Live By, he summarized the nature and the relevance of mythic themes.  At the present time, he is in the process of writing a monumental illustrated series entitled An Atlas of World Mythology, the first volume of which appeared a few years ago under the tile The Way of the Animal Powers. And the second volume, which will appear shortly, titled The Way of the Seeded Earth.

This list does not cover all of his writings, merely the ones that are of particular relevance to us here. A work published in 1986 entitled The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, subtitled Metaphor as Myth and as Religion received the medal of honor of literate from the The National Arts Club. And contains a synopsis of the theoretical postulates upon which most of his work is based.  It would seem to me, based on my reading of this, I think his latest book, as small as it is... that Joseph Campbell here, probably for the first time in his career, has put forth, in succinct form, the quintessential principles of his own outlook, you may say raison d'etat, the reason for being, of all of his work and all of his other writings. I can very warmly recommend it to anyone.   The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, Metaphor as Myth and as Religion

Campbell lived for many years, together with his wife Gene Igrman, a lady whose principal calling was in dance and choreography, and still is. They lived in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. And in more recent years, he came to reside in Hawaii, where his wife's family played a prominent pioneering role for many years.


My statements about Joseph Campbell's works will be, although laced with quotations now, very largely of a subjective nature. For, as some of my close friends know, of all people, and I don't know if I've seen that many or not, of all people I've had contact of in this field and who I have heard lecture and whose writings I've read, there is only one who I felt I could never disagree on anything. There was only one whose statements I could always utterly endorse. And that is something that frighten me. If I didn't know that I had taken leave of my critical faculties, or they had taken leave of me, this would indeed distress me. And so, Joseph Campbell to me really appears as the Jungian spirit closest to my heart, bear none. If I was asked why, I would say the reasons are too numerous to mention. But I shall attempt to enumerate a few and to elaborate on them.


In so doing, I running the risk, by way of of exposing my own own deeply-felt sympathies and thereby to reveal, perhaps, as much about myself as I do about Joseph Campbell. But this is a risk that I must have to take, so here it goes.

First, I would say as the first point, which I would like to mention is.... that Joseph Campbell, more than anyone I know, has made Jung's psychological postulates available and palatable to the general public, without restrictions of: academic jargon, psychological technicalities, obfuscation, learned arrogance, and the like.  Along with the recently deceased Merci Elaryda?, he stands as the true seminal figure of openly available and comprehensible research into the spirit of mythology and of religion.

It has, of course, for a long time been my belief that Jung's message extends in it's usefulness and it's applicability, far beyond the realm of psychology.  As indeed, I think simply the events are beginning to bear out.  And in that respect we may see that these four persons, of which whom we have been speaking, all of whom were active in disciplines other than the psychological one. Ziemer and the others, including Campbell, were not psychologist. They were scholars and researches in various areas and disciplines. At the same time, all of them, as I'm sure now you have noticed when we spoke about the other three – were, what you might call, people who themselves were opposed-to and resentful-of, the excesses of the specialist in their fields and other fields.

In our first discussion on Helmlic Zimler, we went into the recounting of Zimler's wonderful essay where he defined himself as a dilettante. Here a world-renowned scholar and university professor, explaining that we should all be dilettantes, namely people who pursue our respective interests, as  dilettante, as people who are delighted with what they are do. With what they do. With what they are doing.

So, Jung, when writing about Wilhelm and ???, also referred to this matter. Namely, how important it is to avoid the pitfalls of the specialist. Wherein when one becomes so specialized that one's material become so special, that only other specialists will understand it. What is, after all, a specialist for? What is a scholar for? To make his special knowledge available to those who are not themselves specialists. To educate and  to draw-out toward others. Not to write and talk over their heads.


And so, I think, we are now, increasingly, in a period of our culture where the value of popular scholarship is recognized. The greatest boost to the apprehension (appreciation), on the part of the public, of my chosen field of Gnosticism, was made by Elaine Pagus. Not in her most scholarly books, but in The Gnostic Gospels, who was written for the general public.

Similarly, scholars of renowned, who are still among us... ??, John Marco Alegro. Have made an impact on our culture by writing. At the same time, they have also antagonized many of their snooty peers. Before that, before them, let's say the impact and value of a man like G R S Mead, who also wrote for the general public, outside the 


Secondly, I think we need to call to mind that the narrow specialists mentality almost inevitably eventually also gets to the point – where it misses the most important elements in its own field. The reason for this being, the core principal of many a matter, can only be properly understood and evaluated when one has an insight into other disciplines that may illuminate the matter under consideration. So, specialization has it great and grave dangers.

Nowhere, perhaps, are we more clearly aware of this then in the field of Gnostic Studies, wherein the narrow specialization, particularly of the Copologist, those interesting gentleman, they are mostly gentleman, whose principal claim to fame for this life, and perhaps the next, is to have have mastered the actually not so terribly difficult language of Coptic. These are the people who nose their way into the field of Gnostic studies, principally and sometimes solely, because of their knowledge of Coptic. And in their translations, especially in any kind of attempted exegesis, consistently and constantly miss the point of everything, all the time.

The nice little examples of that existing, for instance, in one particular Gnostic Scriptures... where the term “Matro Padre” in Greek, meaning “Mother Father” was translated by the learned Copologist as “material grandfather”. Simply, because, the notion, which in psychologically, of course, is supremely understandable, of one androgynous parent or principal, at the archetypal level, is totally foreign to these people. There couldn't be such a thing as a “mother father”, it has to be a “maternal grandfather”. 

On the other interesting comment, made directly to a friend of mine, who was a translating assistant at the time – by one of the H*** translators... when the assistant mentioned to the learned professor that a particular passage doesn't make any sense, as translated. The learned professor replied: “It isn't supposed to make any sense, it's a Gnostic Scripture”. What, of course, one needs to remember – using this as an example, is that the point of Gnosticism is in Gnosis. And Gnosis, in terms, has to be understood in terms of some disciplines that are outside the field of Biblical studies, and sometimes even religious studies. The reason for it being, as Jung of course recognized, and Campbell knows very well... is that we are not dealing here with a religion like we find in Judaisms, Christianity and Islam – and even in Hinduism... but that we are dealing with something that might be called a psychological religion.

Scholars should read, I think, Campbell's thesis in Metaphor as Myth and as Religion, or Inner Reaches of Outer Space.  In this work, Campbell establishes a theory, which might be called the most Gnostic theory of any, concerning religion and mythology. Campbell accepts the existence of archetypes, or as he also calls them “elementary ideas”, as mythologically given ideas in the human imagination.  Mythology, he says, “is metaphor transparent to the transcended.”


I will read to you a few of his own statements, for certainly he articulates it, I think, better than I could: “Thus viewed”, says Campbell, “in the way of the method of art, the features of an environment become transparent to transcendence, which is the way of vision of myth. Features of especial moment and objects of essential use acquire in this way symbolic significance, as do likewise personages in social roles of importance. The whole known world is thus experienced as an aesthetic wonder. Its animals, rocks, and trees are the features of a Holy Land, radiant of Eternity. Shrines are established, here and there, as sites of especial force or history. Certain birds and beasts are recognized as symbolically outstanding. And the social order is brought, as far as possible, to accord with an intuited order of nature, the whole sense of harmony and well being.

Every functioning mythology is an organization of insights of this order, made known by ways of works of visual art and verbal narrative and applied to communal life by way of a calendar of symbolic rites, festivals and manners, social classifications, pedagogic initiations and ceremonies of investiture, by virtue of which the community is itself mythologized, to become metaphorical of transcendence, participating with its universe in eternity.

Thus mythology is a control system, on the one hand framing its community to accord with an intuited order of nature and, on the other hand, by means of its symbolic pedagogic rites, conducting individuals through the ineluctable psycho-physiological stages of transformation of a human lifetime- birth, childhood and adolescence, age, old age, and the release of death- in unbroken accord simultaneously with the requirements of this world and the rapture of participation in a manner being beyond time. For all the symbolic narratives, images, rites, and festivals by which life within the culture monad is controlled and defined are of the order of the way of art. Their effect, therefore, is to wake the intellect to realizations equivalent to those of the insights that produced them.”


In other words, what he is saying is: in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – we have taken the lowest of all low roads... in terms of interpreting the mythic contents of our religions. The lowest of all low roads. That is my expression, but I would rather think that Joseph would agree.

The idea of the virgin birth, for example, is argued, as a historical fact. Whereas in practically every mythology of the world, instances have appeared of this elementary idea. American Indian mythologies abound in virgin births. Therefore, the intended reference of this archetypal image can't possibly have been to a supposed occurrence in the near-east in the first-century BC. The elementary idea, likewise, of the promised land – can not originally refer to a part of this earth to be conquered by military might – but to a place of spiritual peace in the heart – to be discovered through contemplation.  Creation myths, furthermore, which when read in their mystical sense, might bring to mind the idea of a background beyond time, out of which the whole temporal world with it's colorful 


In short, the social as opposed to the mystical function of a mythology, is not to open the mind – but to enclose it. To bind the local people together in mutual support, by offering images that awaken the heart to recognitions of commonalty without allowing these to escape the nomadic compound.

I think that will

“Religions, as we know it in our culture,” says Campbell, "is no more and no less than misunderstood mythology.”

PART 2: 2:40

why do you suppose the renaissance Popes were behind [..] They didn't care a hoot that Christ began to look just like a beautiful young Italian man. They dished out the money and they gave the support. Because they sense, they were close enough to that reality.

That somehow, through the aesthetic revelations, through art, the reality flows fourth. More important than theology, more important than philosophy, more important than politics and sociology. It is THE greatest avenue to reality! But, of course, all of this has been forgotten. So, then, the significance of this view is that we must look to the artist.


We need something or somebody, who will consciously or subconsciously

Either by feeling or by thought: recognize this tremendous need for the support for the bolstering of art.

Needless to say, as we know, left and right alike in our political spectrum are singularly unaware of this.

The left forever stressing the importance of social schemes and welfare and things of that sort - as the perennial sinkhole into which money must be poured over and over again.

The right, on the other hand, having it's own pet projects - whether they be military or otherwise.

But, somehow, the art and the artist always lose out.

Between the two chairs, the artist ends up sitting on the floor.

So, I don't think that we can, therefore, any longer afford.. spiritually, psychologically, says Campbell, not to encourage and support this all-important avenue 


This, of course, is regarded as terrible.

I"m sure every time, he antagonized many people.

Now, fourthly, I feel...

He is not an Oriental-izer. But, rather, like [Carl] Jung, that we should not get rid of our Western roots, and take on some Eastern


12:40 That doesn't mean that everybody can walk any road. At least not with equal ease and efficiency.

That's the kind of 19th century, early ?? fallacy. 

Which has a great deal of truth at the theoretical level, but has a great deal of deficiency when it comes to practice.

On the other hand, we have the contemporary That "One World" pastiche.  Tell it to some poor fellow in Afghanistan who has never been outside his province.

13:45 You may be a global citizen, if you can afford to get on the jet airplane and get to Calcutta or

Just as earthbound mired down in it's own little pile of dirt as it ever was. As it ever was!

arrogant superficial generalizations we engage in. Because we have money


Even as we can not do, really, without facing the negative values. Even as we must, let's say, face up to the task of fighting Jehova, and putting him back in his place. This is one of our specific Judeo/Christian/Islamic problems.

Unconscious choicelessness. Because the unconscious and instinctual

This is what the old Gnostics called heretics(?).

Then there comes lawfulness, which in terms is conscious choicelessness.

This is when I go and say: because I am born a Jew or baptized a Christian - I accept the law of Moses.

And I will abrogat my role as a choice maker because the choice has been made for me by Moses, by the theologians, by the preachers - whoever the case may be.

So, here I consciously abrogate my power of choice.

And that is what the old Gnostics called the psychic level.


And thirdly, of course, there is the individual who raises above these.

And who becomes the conscious choice maker.

But Lest you think this kind of person has a Wonderful time all the time... let me assure you that it's a very difficult path, of course.

Why? Because it constantly requires consciousness.


And to be conscious hurts. It hurts like heck!


this path

it hurts like heck. it hurts like hell.

Because, to make those decisions, it worse than anything.

It's that 

He is a moral libertarian. Which, must of course, include in my view

Because freedom is indivisible.

Either we are free or we are not free.

A difficult one indeed

26:09 And last, and not least

Hermetic America

That moved not only the people who drew that [Great] Seal, but the entire philosophy the early republic was based upon. And how utterly deplorable and regrettable and  terrible it is that all of this has been virtually totally forgotten by our days. And that we have held, 


The American People have held in their very hands, handed to them by people like Franklin and Jefferson and all kinds of others


One of the most splendid treasures of spiritual philosophy - applicable to all manner of human purposes. And we have discarded it.

And we are running around like beggars, the world over, picking up crumbs from every kind of anarchists, Marxists, this thing, fascists, this thing that thing, all over the world. All of which, put together, could never come close to the psychological spiritual wisdom that was given to us to begin with... and that we have simply forgotten about and thrown away. And how incredibly unfortunate and terrible this is. And, I know for a fact, that Joseph Campbell feels this very very keenly.

Every time is the best of times and the worst of times, as Alexander dexxx wrote about the French Revolution.