brian tanabe's Reviews > The Power of Myth

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
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Sep 04, 08


I started reading the hardcover version of this and immediately realized it is a companion to a PBS series between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. So I decided to switch to the audio version – highly, highly recommended over the book.

I found myself connecting with a lot of the passages, but one passage in particular definitely stands out, tackling the meaning of life. While I have a great amount of respect for Moyers, I was slightly annoyed at times with his attempts to assert his equanimity to Campbell and so I appreciate this particular exchange because of Moyers’ immediate disagreement. And then like Buddha himself, Campbell happily goes on to explain himself. So beautiful.

Bill Moyers: And yet we all have lived a life that had a purpose. Do you believe that?
Joseph Campbell: I don’t believe life has a real purpose. I mean when you really see what life is, it’s a lot of protoplasm with an urge to reproduce and continue in being.
BM: Not true. That’s not true.
JC: Now wait a minute. Just sheer life cant be said to have a purpose because look at all the different purposes it has all over the lot. But each incarnation you might say, has potentiality and the function of life is to live that potentiality. Well how do you do it? Well again, when my students would ask, “Should I do this? Should I do that? Dad says I should do this.” My answer is, follow your bliss. There is something inside you that knows you’re on the beam, that knows you’re off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life.”
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Kelly Ooh, I haven't read this since high school. I'm excited to hear a fresh perspective. An adult one. Considering my class was a bunch of silly, wide eyed teenagers who like, totally, had never read something so "deep" before. Yeah, I had those girls in my class. :)

I did think a lot of it was really interesting and cool, though. Even if some of it is a biiit of a stretch.


brian tanabe My first shallow surprise so far is how Lucas was influenced by Campbell's work for the Star Wars series. And subsequently how in tune with the Star Wars series Campbell is -- he almost dissects the movie as if it's a spiritual text.

The breadth of Campbell's knowledge so far has been nothing but impressive.




Kelly He was a very very educated man, with a lifetime of patterns he saw to draw upon. Something of the defintion of a sage, I think. :)

I think the part that spoke to me the most at the time is the idea that there were certain points and stages at which people moved through their lives, signals that it was time to grow up, or put off their children's clothes, and the lack of those now and what that's done to our psyche. Ooh, I'm jealous you're reading this. So much to look forward to!

There are DVDs of these conversations that you can watch as well. If you can find them, I recommend them.


message 4: by Xysea (new) - added it

Xysea This is on my to-read list; I can't wait to read it! :)


brian tanabe Seeing as this book is really a glorified transcript, I can easily imagine how a sound or even video recording would heighten the experience. Might have to make a visit to the local library ...


message 6: by Mel (new)

Mel Watched this yesterday on PBS. I liked it when Moyers challenged Campbell about the meaning life because I agreed with Moyers and because it provoked Campbell to defend his position. It was one of the highlights of this amazing series. Today, the notion of Follow Your Bliss has turned into the narcissism of our age and I wonder what Campbell would have to say about that.


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