Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Been watching a great series of lectures by Joseph Campbell called Mythos (actually a two volume set of lectures titled Mythos I and Mythos II).  I've been watching it streaming from Netflix but I'm sure many public libraries would have it as well.

[By the way, as an aside, my wife and I received a great gift from her brother this Christmas.  It's called a Roku and it allows us to watch streaming Netflix movies on our TV.  Took about 5 minutes to set up, works with our wireless router, and has other neat content available as well.  I love it!]

Anyway, Dr. Campbell (1904-1987) was a professor at Sarah Lawrence College in New York for 38 years and was widely recognized as a world expert in comparative mythology publishing many papers, articles, and books (including the four-volume The Masks of God).  The phrase "Follow your bliss" is attributed to Campbell.  He often made Christians uncomfortable by pointing out similarities between Biblical stories and mythological themes in other, more ancient, cultures.  You can get more information about him from the Joseph Campbell Foundation.

These are not flashy presentations and, for that reason, are unlikely to ever be aired on regular television.  They're videos of Campbell lecturing in a room full of students with some slides to illustrate.  It's really like taking a class from Campbell on mythology and I've been watching each episode separately on different nights.  It's been a great education and I've learned a lot of interesting things (some of which I may follow up here with later blog posts).  Here's a list of the episodes on Volume I:

   1. Psyche and Symbol -- The psychological impulse for and response to myth.
   2. The Spirit Land -- How myths awakened American Indians to the mystery of life.
   3. On Being Human -- The emergence of myth in early hunter-gatherer societies.
   4. From Goddess to God -- The gradual shift from the Goddess to male, warlike deities.
   5. The Mystical Life -- Non-biblical mythic strains hat helped shape the Western spirit.

Highly recommended if you're interested in mythology - not as quaint stories from the ancient past that our non-scientific ancestors believed in, but as powerful beliefs all cultures, including our modern culture, still share.

1 comment:

  1. I need to see those. I've read practically every book ever written by Campbell, and I love him. I've gotten a lot of story ideas from that man, not to mention learned how to tell stories better.