Joseph Campbell, one of the true Giants of the Human Spirit—and make no mistake, there are no more than a handful of such folk alive at any given time—first published The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949.
In it he recounted the ever through time and space retold tale of the Hero’s journey. It began with a call to adventure and then the painful separation or severance from the custom and convention of one’s own birth community, led through various adventures to a culminating experiential contact with the essence of Life, an awakening, the Mothers as Goethe put it, before an eventual return to the community as boon bringer, teacher, awakener or King.
Now you might think the early and middle stages of the journey the most arduously perilous. That may be so considering the years of solitude and wandering involved, especially when the ultimate goal is unclear at the outset and success in obtaining it dubious at best. A great many start out, very few arrive. Very very few.
But, as Campbell went on to relate, what about those who do succeed in attaining their goal, do obtain ‘enlightenment’ or awakening? What becomes of them and how successful is their return to the day to day normalcy of their community with all its bias and prejudice, custom and convention?
Have you read or even heard of Campbell’s four volume Masks of God series? Why is that, I wonder? Was the message too much of a challenge to our way of thinking and conception of ourselves? Same goes for James Joyce. As I’ve tried to show in my YouTube videos, no one but Campbell truly grasped what Joyce was getting at in his works, in spite of—or more likely because of—all the scholarship that has accumulated about him.
This is nowhere near an isolated phenomena. Why?
Because it is us that refuse the call to change the way we’ve been brought up to think. It is us who refuse to leave the comfort and security of custom and convention despite the urging of our home grown boon bringers. It is us who dismiss the Giants as cranks and foolish idealists, pie in the sky utopians, or just plain unsettlers of the status quo.
Oh well, as I write this one of those old fashioned clocks on the wall quietly click away the seconds while birds can be heard twittering outside the window next to me. I’ve been unpacking and reshelving my books, the works of Campbell and Joyce, Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann, Henry Miller, Oswald Spengler, Henri Bergson and Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Faure, Durant and so many more.
The photo heading this post I took yesterday on a bike ride past Turtle Mountain and Frank Slide. Outside the sun is climbing in the clear blue sky and the day is warming.
Nature is beckoning….