Saturday Dec 10, 2011

Campbell, Art, and Myth

matador, myth, moon
Matador, Myth, Moon

The late great teacher of mythology Joseph Campbell had a gift for storytelling and presenting exotic concepts in concise terms.

Campbell observed that modern Western mythology, which is a dead end with a closed canon, has been transformed into a matter of ethics instead of mysticism.

Art and myth are allies in understanding ourselves. Where does your art come from? Do you hear it, feel it, or is it contrived and intellectualized? This is not a comparison. It’s an exercise in awareness.

Campbell also said that “myths are public dreams, and that dreams are private myths.”

As Campbell might have put it: Do you have ideas or visions?

Know your private myth, which is the source of original work.


This is another compelling and introspective post. I’ll be contemplating ideas or visions all day.


Posted by Soho Art Chick on 12/14 at 03:25 PM from Soho not Noho.


“...modern Western mythology, which is a dead end with a closed canon…” Is this really true? Aren’t artists of all kinds continually adding to this canon?

I believe art is layered. Some of it is based on an idea. And some is based on sensate life: hearing, touching, seeing, tasting…and feeling.”

Wherever it comes from digging deep often allows us to express lightly.

Janet Riehl

Posted by Janet Riehl on 12/15 at 10:41 AM from St. Louis.

I fully agree with Campbell on this point. A mythology that does not worship and protect the Mother is a culture doomed.

The true artist does create a new canon by adding enlightened meaning to existence. Trying to add awareness to the old mythology of consumerism and mindless exploitation is a contradiction in terms.

Knowing the source of one’s art is the point. You are on sacred ground when you know where you stand.

Posted by Eden on 12/15 at 08:08 PM.

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