BOOK REVIEWS FROM A CURIOUS MIND: I read a lot. Books and the data/stories contained within them are my oldest friends. My wife suggested in her wisdom that I should write up short summaries/observations on the books I've been reading, since people might be interested, so I did. 5+ years running. Comments are welcome.
Maybe Mr. Campbell was running out of steam? Or, maybe I just do not care enough.
Masks of God: Creative Mythology –
Joseph Campbell (1968)
Joseph Campbell, having explored the origin of Human Myth, its development into
codified rules for tribal group living, and then its growth into state
religions and universal world religions, now analyzes the creation of the most
enduring myth of the last 500 years.That myth is the idea that Love, romantic Love, can and does allow for
communion with the divine in all things, and that it happens purely on the
individual level, without the involvement of religion’s rules or the meddling
of a priestly class.
one can imagine, this idea was very dangerous to the status quo religions
acting as if they were the supreme arbiters of what was divine and who should
rule on Earth.Without their claim that
they (religions) are the only source of divinity and the only way to petition
the divine, organized religion stood to die a quick death, for very little in
religious experience actually moved a worshiper in the manner that Love can affect
an individual’s mind and “soul.”This
new idea was slowly absorbed by religions of the world to the point where many
Christians these days speak only of God as Love, without the endless minutia of
dogma that plagued early Christian and Catholic churches.
Campbell strives to show the evolution of this idea, first through the troubadours
of the early 1100’s-1200’s, and then to the Romances of the Arthurian legends,
Dante’s writings, and eventually through the dream-world of Joyce’s Finnegan’s
Wake.Because this Love development was
essentially cataloged in song and literature, as opposed to history or
scripture, this final volume in the Masks of God series was very hard for me to
read through.I just could care less
about the source materials for Mr. Campbell’s explorations into Love.I have a short attention span when it comes
to romantic literature and the poetic words of people rambling on and on about
Some clowns never feel Love
this volume did not engross me as the previous three did, I still was glad to
have read it, and I am sure that the ideas contained within will resonate with
me as I continue on my journey.I think
that this new myth of the all-encompassing power of Love is a good myth,
because Love is indeed universal, even though many societies and cultures work
hard to prevent romantic love from flourishing.Love allows people to connect with each other, to step out of themselves
and see the world through different eyes.It helps soothe the pain of tragedy and soften the anger that rises up
in us humans.It also resists
codification into specific rules.Love is
different for everyone, and therein lies its greatness.