The Power of Myth
by Joseph Campbell with Bill
Joseph Campbell, who died on October 31, 1987, was
the world's foremost authority on mythology, a preeminent scholar, writer, and
teacher whose work has had a profound influence on millions. To him,
mythology was "the song of the universe, the music of the spheres."
In The Power of Myth, he and distinguished
journalist Bill Moyers offer a brilliant combination of wisdom and wit in
conversations that range from modern marriage ("Marriage is a relationship.
When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're not sacrificing to each other
but to unity in a relationship") to virgin births, from savior figures to
heroic figures such as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars ("... By
overcoming the dark passions, the hero symbolizes our ability to control the
irrational savages within us").
Campbell explains how myths are our ties to the
past--and how they help us to understand the world today and ourselves.
"When you see the earth from the moon," says Campbell, "you don't see any
divisions there of nations or states. This might be the symbol, really,
for the new mythology to come. That is the country we are going to be
celebrating. And those are the people we are one with."
The Power of Myth is a great summing up of Joseph
Campbell's work, sure to stand alongside his two celebrated classics The
Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Masks of God and his recent
The Atlas of World Mythology.
Joseph Campbell began his career in 1934 as an
instructor at Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught for almost forty years,
and where the Joseph Campbell Chair in Comparative Mythology was established
in his honor.
Bill Moyers is an acclaimed television journalist,
widely respected for his work both at CBS News and PBS, where one of his
primary efforts has been to bring to television outstanding thinkers of our
"People say that what we're all
seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really
seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being
alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have
resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually
feel the rapture of being alive..." --Joseph Campbell
"I never met anyone who could
better tell a story. Listening to Joseph Campbell talk of primal
societies, I was transported to the wide plains under the great dome of the
open sky, or to the forest dense, beneath a canopy of trees, and I began to
understand how the voices of the gods spoke from the wind and thunder, and the
spirit of God flowed in every mountain stream, and the whole earth blossomed
as a sacred place--the realm of mythic imagination." --Bill Moyers
Webmasters Note: The Power
of Myth is also available in a PBS video tape series that can be rented from
Blockbusters, The Movie Gallery and other similar venders.
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