Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hero's Journey

In 1988, Joseph Campbell became one of the world's most recognized experts on mythology, heroes, and quests. He identified archetypes in myth, religion, and psychology that are shared by cultures down through the centuries and around the world.
In '88, PBS broadcast a series of interviews with him, conducted by journalist Bill Moyers, called "The Power of Myth." Campbell died in 1987, but the PBS series exposed his ideas about the hero's journey to millions of viewers. The directors of the "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings" films were influenced by Campbell's theories.
During the membership drive that accompanied the broadcast, you could buy the entire six episodes on videotape for a certain donation. I did.
A few days ago, I wrote a poem about that situation.

Joseph Campbell Is My Hero

Only the resting cats
sphinxlike on the floor
show moderate curiosity
in their half-lidded eyes.

Joseph Campbell on TV
and his theories of mythology
fly through the air into my
brain and I finally understand

what makes me tick,
a chore you long ago
abandoned in favor of the
secretary half your age.

While you sleep the rest
of the righteous I’ve pledged
$500 to receive the whole collection
of Joseph Campbell myths

a strange extravagance in light
of the blood on your plastic
Visa card and the scarlet spatters
on our yellow kitchen floor.

I have drawn first blood
in this battle, as I fling my wrist:
take that, you monstrous fridge:
take that, you sly old sink.

Joseph Campbell loves me
more than you do. The cats
know this and as I slide from
this reality, they wink at me.


the walking man said...

I love this. It is like Conan O'Brien and his parting shots at NBC.

Just Chris...Your sense of dignity and warfare is an awesome thing to behold!

Brian Miller said...

interesting. willl have to look those up. would definitely thank him for both SW and LOTR...some favs. the peom, sounds like it was during a rough time, at least the cats were winking. sometimes we will do some pretty out of character things to escape our reality.

Anonymous said...

The ability to "poetize your thoughts"

A prize that is yours to enjoy!


Madison said...

I'm going to have to read about this man. I've never heard of him. Love your poem with winking cats. By the way, sometimes someone leaves a comment at just the right time and the string of words means so much. Thank you, lovely lady, for your comment on my blog. I needed that to begin my day.

Kim A. said...

Love it love it love it. I am a mythology lover. I think that is why I was so drawn to a fantasy world when I was in pain and hurting. I threw myself into all the books of mythology, Greek, Roman, Egyptian... I will have to check out Mr. Campbell.


Tall Kay said...

Your poems are teaching me to look deeper than just the words. At first, I didn't understand it all. But after going back and reading it s.l.o.w.l.y, it began to make sense to me. The comments even make sense now! LOL

Sending you warm and dry wishes for a beautiful day!

Syd said...

Thanks for enlightening me about him and about you. Your poetry is so mystical to me.

Poetikat said...

It just gets better and better with the reading, Chris. I'm liking it more and more.

Nessa said...

I love Joseph Campbell too.

Your poem is a wonderful tribute.

Boy Meets Girl in 55

Enchanted Oak said...

Here's Wikipedia's notes on Joseph Campbell for anyone interested in learning more about him:
Or just Google "Joseph Campbell mythology" and tons of stuff will come up!

Karen said...

This first blood, the references to Campbell, the cats, and the missing other -- how incredibly you mix the images in this very painful situation to give us something of beauty. You're quite a poet, Chris.

lakeviewer said...

Ah, blood on the Visa! Did Campbell explain that?

RNSANE said...

I know nothing whatsoever about Joseph Campbell but now I must learn more! Your poem speaks so highly of him!

Calli said...

Joseph Campbell is one of my favourite's. So amazingly full of wisdom about so many things to include mythology. I find myself going back to read him, over and over. It never ceases to be intricate and interesting.

I love this...