Creative Cauldron - Joseph Campbell

Monday, February 04, 2013

Artist inspiration and artist influences. No biographies, dates or scholarly research here -  this is a personal response to the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell by Australian artist Fiona Morgan.

Joseph Campbell quote
Joseph Campbell quote - this & other inspiring quotes on ceramics are available from mbartstudios on etsy

It seems strange to me that Joseph Campbell's work on comparitive mythology and religion has been done so recently in time. I mean that it has taken all of history until now for someone to really take a good look at the belief systems around the world and draw out their essences, similarities, histories, relations and differences.

Despite the overdue arrival of this scholarship, oh my goodness was it done thoroughly. Such detail, such comprehension, such insightful cross discipline views and such synthesis and so much careful thought.

Joseph Campbell quote

Where do we arrive at from this?
We now have a roadmap of how religions evolved. If you can manage to wade your way through the four part series 'Masks of God', of Primitive Mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mythology and Creative Mythology, your views on religions will probably never be the same. Your understanding of the opposing viewpoints operating in the world will be sharpened.

 We now have the understanding that myths are meant to serve as guides on how to live life and they need to be updated for each time period, each generation. Myths are there to help with how to handle adversity, transitions to different life stages and to help us with what life is all about.

Joseph Campbell quote

We have an understanding of the structure of the great overarching communal monomyth, the hero's journey, and some eternal truths which have been distilled from it, the most famous being, 'follow your bliss'.

Mythology turns out to be centrally important to humans to function healthily. Myths connect us to another way of being. They help us find happiness.

What a stupendous legacy.

Joseph Campbell quote

I have a huge admiration for the thinker who synthesised and distilled the roadmaps people have made for life. His explanations are detailed, well thought out and very complex. It often takes me several passes of his information to be able to comprehend and digest what he has to say. I enjoy the challenge. And the rewards are well worth the effort. Too much information out there is too simplified.

While I'm not sure I can call him a wordsmith, Joseph Campbell is a storyteller for the soul. It may be one of the most important jobs there is - reminding us that there is more to life than we can see.

Interview excerpts on how myth aids us in growing out of childhood and into adults:

And how myth helps us place ourselves in the life cycle and accept where we are (very odd audio/visual mismatch from about halfway through - I recommend shut your eyes and just listen!):

More Joseph Campbell links

Joseph Campbell Foundation:

About the Creative Cauldron series of posts

Creative Cauldron - artistic influences & inspiration for Australian artist Fiona MorganThe Creative Cauldron series of posts explores and showcases the visual styles, techniques, attitudes, ideas, artists and paintings that have had the most impact on me. 

The rest of the series is accessible via the Creative Cauldron page. Have a meander if you please, and remember to check out my artworks on Flickr, and have an insider peek at life as an artist on Facebook.

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