The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell
Reading Order: Book 8
Categories: 2019, Erik Rostad
Non-Fiction, Psychology
Pages: 337
Suggested By: Ed Catmull, Darren Aronofsky, Ray Dalio
Date Started: February 14, 2019
Date Finished: February 23, 2019
10h 25m 19s
Reason Book was Chosen:
I see this book come up all the time in lists of recommended books. It was one of those books that I could no longer ignore. I had this on my 2018 reading list but didn't get to it. It's been transferred to my 2019 reading list.

My Thoughts

What is myth? Joseph Campbell defines it like this:

Myth is a directing of the mind and heart, by means of profoundly informed figurations, to that ultimate mystery which fills and surrounds all existences. Even in the most comical and apparently frivolous of its moments, mythology is directing the mind to this unmanifest which is just beyond the eye.

Myth also takes us back further beyond where our written records begin. Myth was passed on person to person and tells of man’s attempt to understand life’s greatest mysteries.

I had a lot of trouble with this book. At most, I understood about 2% of it. I’ve read other books like The Sacred Romance and Building a StoryBrand that relate our modern movies and well-known novels to the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell discusses the world’s great myths. In addition to understanding Campbell’s points about the Hero’s Journey, it was as if I was being force-fed many different mythologies as through a firehose.

I know this is sort of the source book for understanding the Hero’s Journey, but since I didn’t know many of the myths referred to in the book, it became overwhelming. I had to force my way through this book. If I was better acquainted with the myths, I would have enjoyed this book a lot more.

The final few pages actually held the most importance to me. This paragraph stuck out:

The problem with mankind today, therefore, is precisely the opposite to that of men in the comparatively stable periods of those great co-ordinating mythologies which now are known as lies. Then all meaning was in the group, in the great anonymous forms, none in the self-expressive individual; today no meaning is in the group–none in the world: all is in the individual. But there the meaning is absolutely unconscious. One does not know toward what one moves. One does not know by what one is propelled. The lines of communication between the conscious and the unconscious zones of the human psyche have all been cut, and we hav been split in two.

I know this is an important book for many people. However, if you are unfamiliar with myths and are coming from more of a business bent, you might want to start with Building a StoryBrand before reading this book.

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