Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Master Storyteller: JOSEPH CAMPBELL

Central Park

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers
, “Bliss and Sacrifice”

It’s interesting how people in New York behave with some of their neighbors. They can be living in the same apartment building for years, but the extent of their interaction — when in the elevator or in the laundry room — is often limited to a nod of acknowledgement. Such was with my neighbor, Marc.

He was already living in the building for about two years, but I only got to know him when we ran into each other at a lecture about Joseph Campbell and his influence in film and television storytelling. It was held at the Institute of Religious Science on East 48th Street in Manhattan; the speaker was at that time the curator of the Joseph Campbell Library at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. A lot of people in the audience were graduate students of Jungian depth psychology, as well as writers in film and television. Marc, I later found out, was a writer for Late Night with David Letterman.

It was a delightful evening with the speaker citing several popular films and pointing out the basic storytelling elements they all shared; elements that are imbedded in our universal subconscious as expounded upon by Joseph Campbell in his book, A Hero With A Thousand Faces.

This master storyteller gained major prominence in 1988 when millions were introduced to his ideas by the broadcast on PBS of Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. It was a series featuring electrifying conversations that the two men had videotaped.

When he died in 1987 before his PBS series aired, Newsweek noted that “Campbell has become one of the rarest of intellectuals in American life: a serious thinker who has been embraced by the popular culture.”

Since that evening at the lecture hall, doing the laundry became more interesting. Whenever I ran into Marc in the laundry room, we would talk about Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. Other people would join in and then someone would collect money for pizza and soda; before realizing it, we would have a pleasant weekend afternoon party going on in the laundry room. Oh well, that’s Manhattan for you. When Mark’s contract with David Letterman expired he headed west to Hollywood with his fiancé.

Here’s an interesting trivia for fans of Star Wars: PBS is a network of publicly-supported television stations. When Bill Moyers was scouting for an affordable location for his series with Joseph Campbell, George Lukas heard about it and immediately offered his facilities at the Skywalker Ranch in California for free provided that he was allowed to sit in during the videotaping. George Lukas is one of the many storytellers greatly influenced by Joseph Campbell.


The Joseph Campbell Foundation

A Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

David Letterman

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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:29 AM


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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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