Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Power of Myth

Last week I listened to the audiobook of the interviews Bill Boyers did with Joseph Campbell regarding his research into the world's myths. It was recommended to me because he talks about the hero's journey and how it relates to stories. I was also jazzed to learn about new myths from all over the world. After seeing the four and five-star reviews on Goodreads I settled back for a good listen.

Can I just say it sucked rocks. And by that I mean, it sucked. Like a flock of seagulls cruising over your newly washed car. Like skinheads in a gay pride parade. It was just that bad.

The first chapter was on the hero's journey and it was... okay. After that, it was an intellectual spiral into the toilet bowl where everything is the same.

I particularly had to restrain myself from chucking my iPod against a wall when he talked about a native tribe's ritual. Apparently, this tribe has several days of dancing after which, six boys entering 'manhood' shag a girl in a hut built just for this occasion. When the last boy is going for it, the elders remove the supports for the hut. Killing the couple. Then they dig them out, cook them... AND EAT THEM.

Somehow Joseph Campbell linked this as a perfect example of the sacrifice and sacrament of Jesus Christ.

And does he talk extensively about other various myths. NO! Except of course when he wanted to show how they are the same as any religion's myths.

In my opinion, Joseph Campbell has to do some serious contortions to get his logic to work. Unfortunately, Bill Moyer doesn't call him on any of it. His questions are more like a pupil sitting at the feet of the master.
Ultimately, The Power of Myth is simply a tirade against all religion because, according to Campbell, they're all myths. The Bible, for instance, isn't a literal account. It's all metaphor. He further went on to say that if all the world's religions would just accept that all religion is a metaphor, we could finally live in peace.

So, yeah, I think Joseph Campbell is a nutjob and I'm probably the first person to give The Power of Myth a one star on Goodreads.

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