Author | Freelance Writer | Entrepreneur | Speaker and Workshop Leader

Joseph Campbell and the Ego and Environment that Will Hold You Down

There is more to “follow your bliss” mythologist and general wise dude, Joseph Campbell, than his commonly misunderstood coined phrase. He would’ve been quite the mental health professional. Here is for 38-seconds with Bill Moyers.

What is the ‘real dragon’? “The dragon is your ego, holding you in.”

And what is my ego? “What I want. What I believe. What I can do. What I think I love, and all that. What I regard as the aim of my life and so forth. It might too small. It might be that which pins you do down. And if it’s simply that of doing what the environment tells you to do then it certainly is holding you down, and so the environment is your dragon as it reflects within yourself.”

Like C.S. Lewis, Joseph Campbell thought humans were disconnected from themselves in ways crucial to their (loss of) humanity. And also like Lewis, he made it “okay” to have an intellectual conversation on the topic of God and beliefs without being written off as small-minded–or of a limited worldview (or “meta” narrative).

His audience shared a larger segment of the population too. He’s more Jungian than Freudian, but he has assimilated his Freud into the equation too. Freud brought the “ego” into discussion after all.

Here he is for five intense minutes at the age of 79 on how the ego needs a mirror and has a built-in schedule.

Highlights: “The ego can’t reflect upon itself unless it has a mirror against which to read itself. And that mirror would be the mythological schedule to know where it is. It’s a mirror with a schedule in it. A patterned mirror and the ego sees itself in that reflect and knows where it is on the scoreboard. For example, a person at the age of 40 is wondering whether he’s going to be punished by mother hasn’t moved on. And a person who’s age 80 who still worries about his golf score. He hasn’t moved no either. And this is part of the problem. What patterns of life have been through now for centuries.”

“The 40-year-old now should see himself as a free, willing, independent, self-responsible human being and he should have noble heart powers that have been called to his attention, and which he has been invited to give himself in nobility, not out of obedience but out of the self. And the older person must not now be participating in the achieving of life.”

“And I can tell you now that there’s a wonderful moment that comes when you realize that I’m not striving for anything, and what I’m doing now is a not a means of achieving something later. Youth has always to think that way. Every decision that a young person makes…But after a certain age, there’s no future and suddenly the present becomes rich.

And if you’ve been prepared for that then you’re ready, and if you haven’t then you don’t know.”

Campbell’s lasting genius is probably most what he did through his application of such a cross-section of world myths. A pretty major contribution for the 20th century.

The “collective hero” journey is still realizing itself today. Now the question becomes how enduring Campbell will be to other generations.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: