How long ago now was it that I first cracked the spine of Joseph Campbell’s Creative Mythology? Thirty years? Maybe thirty-five?
I was in my twenties. You might say lost, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Is someone truly lost who has set out on a journey to an unknown goal who’s destination he or she divines in his or her own heart?
Creative Mythology is volume four of Campbell’s monumental four part Masks Of God series. For some reason I cannot recall I read it first, before going back to volume one, and I am glad I did and would heartily recommend that route to anyone interested. Mainly because it carries the grand tale of our heritage up to the present day, and hence spoke directly to who I was and what I was striving to do so long ago now.
Anyway, I recently picked it up for perhaps a fourth or fifth read. Fourth or fifth you might say? To me (and Campbell for that matter, for he claimed to have read Oswald Spengler’s Decline Of The West SEVEN times) such works can and should be read over and over. They grow as we grow, and some, by the genuine Giants of the Human Spirit, grow so vast in time they encompass everything!
Listen to Campbell:
“In the present work…the intention [is] to regard each of the creative masters of this dawning day and civilization of the individual as absolutely singular, each a species unique in himself. He will have arrived in this world in one place or another, at one time or another, to unfold, in the conditions of his time and place, the autonomy of his nature. And in youth, though early imprinted with one authorized brand or another of the Western religious heritage, in one or another of its known historic states of disintegration, he will have conceived the idea of thinking for himself, peering through his own eyes, heeding the compass of his own heart. Hence the works of the really great of this new age do not and cannot combine in a unified tradition to which followers then can adhere, but are individual and various. They are the works of individuals and, as such, will stand as models for other individuals: not coercive, but evocative. Wagner following Gottfried, Wagner following Wolfram, Wagner following Schopenhauer, follows, finally, no one but himself. Scholars, of course, have nevertheless traced, described, and taught school around traditions; and for scholars as a race such work affords a career. However, it has nothing to do with creative life and less than nothing with what I am here calling creative myth, which springs from the unpredictable, unprecedented, experience-in-illumination of an object by a subject, and the labor, then, of achieving communication of the effect.” —Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology.
By the time I read these words I was a three time University drop out. They electrified me, and contributed immensely to the awakening of something deep within my being… nothing less than myself!
Hence this Cafe I play with.
A quiet place where I try to pour metaphorical light and water on the hidden and waiting seeds that are… yourselves.