The Power of Myth was one of the first Kindle books I ever purchased, and I've been trying for years to find the time to read it. Finally, last night, I had some time.
This is not, of course, Campbell's own writing; it's embellished/expanded partial transcripts of conversations Joseph Campbell had with Bill Moyers in the 1980s. Not having reading very much of Campbell's works, and then only excerpts, I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel about this.
At the 20% mark, I'm still not sure, but I'm leaning more negatively than I am positively.
I find a child-like sense of wonder in many of Campbell's statements. Often those statements are long monologues, sometimes laced with "stories." He's a great storyteller, but I come away from each of those monologues with a desire to say, "But, Joe, don't you think . . . . " and bring him back from the wonderland of myth to a solid and sometimes tragically myth-guided reality.
I've already found one quotation that deeply bothered me:
MOYERS: Can you imagine that somewhere else other creatures can be sitting, investing their transient journey with the kind of significance that our myths and great stories do?
CAMPBELL: No. When you realize that if the temperature goes up fifty degrees and stays there, life will not exist on this earth, and that if it drops, let’s say, another hundred degrees and stays there, life will not be on this earth; when you realize how very delicate this balance is, how the quantity of water is so important—well, when you think of all the accidents of the environment that have fostered life, how can you think that the life we know would exist on any other particle of the universe, no matter how many of these satellites around stars there may be?
Campbell, Joseph; Bill Moyers (2011-05-18). The Power of Myth (p. 22). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I find that kind of human-exceptionalism unsettling. I'm hoping to have time to read more tonight. We'll see how it goes.