I once had a philosophy professor in college that infuriated me so much that I took a radical right turn into the oblivion of hidden knowledge—which I am grateful for. Because of that occurrence, I am today able to think at a high level above all competition and connect the dots to topics that might seem totally unrelated. Much of my own education could be attributed to Joseph Campbell, which partially caused the fight with that college professor—who was a complete idiot. Because of Campbell I had already moved beyond the philosophy class and into a realm of my own making following the basic advice from Joseph Campbell listed below. Today I am still affiliated with the foundation which stands in tribute to the late professor of mythology studies from Sarah Lawrence College. I am passing along some important information from that foundation to my readers here so that they can have access to some of this same material which is a real treasure to me.
My education began actually right out of high school—literally within months and ended about 20 years later. It started with Joseph Campbell’s own published works—which are extensive. He was a prolific writer and some of his style can be noticed undeniably by my own to this day, the long paragraphs, the extensive use of commas—the type of writing that comes out sounding like a lecturer talking. Much of his Masks of God series was written like this—and it irrevocably entered my consciousness in how I present material—both on a written page, and during public speeches. Like Campbell, I do not use notes when I talk. Even when I do radio broadcasts it is all from memory because the challenge is to gain that knowledge so that you interact with it, not simply regurgitate it to sound smart. Because of Campbell I see magic in the toy aisles of Wal-Mart and deep literary sophistication on a restaurant menu—at times.
I spent a solid 10 years from age 18 to 28 reading Campbell’s work incessantly. I often stayed out all night in 24 hour restaurants eating hamburgers, drinking Cokes and reading Joseph Campbell’s books until the sun appeared in the sky once again from the previous day. When I finished with those, I read the authors that he always talked about, thinkers like Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and Friedrich Nietzsche. The list is really too voluminous to include here—but it took me nearly 20 years. The last ten of that twenty my reading rate had increased to where I could read some of those large and involved books within a few weeks as opposed to months so the speed of completion increased dramatically. But it all started with Campbell. Once I completed all of those works—much of it framed the progressive arguments to this very age—and was misread, or not understood by people who simply took college classes and were too lazy to absorb the material properly. Eventually I was ready for Ayn Rand. Without Campbell, I may not have enjoyed Rand so much, but because of him, I felt I could properly appreciate the anti institutional stance articulated so strongly in her writing with the follow your bliss teachings Campbell always possessed. Campbell, even as an intellectual elite from the turn of the 20th century would have been aghast by the proposal of Common Core today—because of its presupposition against the individual needs of a child.
So for those who want to take a similar journey, I am pointing you in the right direction with the information below. If you are over 50 years of age, fear not. I have friends who are in their 70s and they still read every day. It keeps their minds sharp and they behave physically like much younger people. So taking a twenty year journey should not stop you from starting now—even late in life. For young people cheated out of a proper education by institutionalized public schools and colleges—feel free to start at the sources listed below. It will point you in the right direction one way or another—just by going through the process of reading. You can’t go wrong—but must reach those destinations on your own terms. When it comes to Campbell, he is one of the most preeminent thinkers and scholars of the 20th century and because of the Joseph Campbell Foundation his work lives on to fill the huge gaps left by modern education. Filling those gaps is the task I am most concerned with—so feel free to begin that journey at the links below from the press release by the JCF—a group I am very grateful to and support with immense enthusiasm.
Reading About Myth
Joseph Campbell observed that one of the best ways to delve deep into any subject is to find an author whose work touches you and read the books that writer read. But, as noted in a recent email to JCF, for those moved by Campbell’s own work it’s a tedious task to search through the footnotes and bibliographies of every book he’s written.
Other correspondents ask about the state of mythology in the post-Campbell era: who are the scholars and authors contributing to the field today, and where can their work be found?
One place to seek the answers is JCF’s online bookstore. Here you’ll find not only all of Joseph Campbell’s titles, but also books by scholars who influenced Campbell, authors Campbell cited, contemporary contributions to the field of mythology aimed at general and academic audiences, and much more.
JCF has added sections on Islamic Studies and Native American Studies under the Contemporary Voices category, and a section on “The Fairy Tale” in the Popular Voices category (you can also find academic studies of folklore and fairy tales under Contemporary Voices). We’ve added several titles to many of the other categories as well.
(“The Fairy Tale” section leads off with Lucy Cooper’s worthy The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies, pictured here. This work, published in the United Kingdom on August 28, will soon be available through to United States residents through the JCF Bookstore—but for now, those who live in England, Scotland, Wales, and the Emerald Isle can click on this image to order Ms. Cooper’s book at Amazon UK).
After clicking on the link to the JCF Bookstore, the menu on the right of each page lists 20 separate categories—”Campbell’s Reading List,” “Sacred Voices,” “Shapers of the Field,” etc.—many with multiple subcategories (e.g. “Ritual Studies,” “Feminine Images in Myth,” “Shamanism,” and more, collected under the broad category of “Contemporary Voices”). This can seem confusing to first-time visitors. Though once you click on a category in the list you’ll find its description at the top of the page, feel free to scroll though the brief rundown below for a sense of what each category contains:
- Sacred Voices– collections of myths, folklore, and fairy tales from around the globe (the category at the top of the list will change from time to time).
- Campbell’s Published Works
- Campbell’s Reading List– titles Campbell assigned in his mythology course at Sarah Lawrence
- Edited by Joseph Campbell– includes the brilliant Heinrich Zimmer volumes Campbell completed after Zimmer’s untimely passing
- E-Books(those available through Kindle)
- Video on Demand(streaming through Amazon)
- DVDs– Campbell lectures and interviews, including the Power of Myth
- Recorded Lectures– physical CDs now only available through third-party sellers (though all these lectures and more can be downloaded from JCF in our Contributions area)
- About Joseph Campbell– books that focus on aspects of Campbell’s personal history, including interviews, journal excerpts, and an extensive biography.
- Sources & Inspirations– authors who served as major inspirations in the development of Campbell’s own thought
- Shapers of the Field– anthropologists, archaeologists, and classical scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who paved the way for the field of mythological studies.
- Campbell References– authors and scholars Campbell frequently cited in his work.
- Colleagues, Companions, and Kindred Spirits– writings by colleagues and personal friends of Campbell (18 individuals, from Alan Watts to James Hillman, each with their own section in the drop-down menu when you click on this category)
- JCF Fellows– writings and performances of individuals selected by the Foundation who have demonstrated in their work, and in their lives, a commitment to furthering Campbell’s vision
- Contemporary Voices– sixty general works by contemporary scholars on mythological studies and related academic fields, plus another hundred titles collected under specific subjects in the drop-down menu when you click on this category.
- Popular Voices– works that have broad popular appeal, written with the layperson in mind. Forty-five works of a general nature are on the main pages, with another one hundred twenty volumes divided among specific subjects in the drop-down menu when you click on this category.
- Dictionaries of Symbolism & Word Etymology– reference works on symbols and word origins. – invaluable tools for myth scholars.
- Mythological Resources– titles that have been nominated by JCF Associates.
- RoundTable Selections– volumes in this category have been featured at meetings of one or more of JCF’s 50 different local Mythological RoundTable® groups.
- Criticism– academic works that evaluate Campbell’s contributions to the field of comparative mythology.
If you begin your Amazon shopping in our online store (which is powered by Amazon), then JCF receives 5% of everything you place in your Amazon cart that you purchase the next 24 hours—even if not from our store, or not even a book (JCF has received fees on items from lawnmowers to computers—not sure if that’s intentional, but we are grateful!).
However, should you prefer a local brick-and-mortar store, or one of Amazon’s online competitors, browsing the selections in the JCF bookstore first can still be of value in helping you decide what to purchase through other outlets.
Of course, current titles just scratch the surface. More selections will be added over time.
Joseph Campbell Foundation relies on donations to help fulfill its mission of perpetuating Campbell’s ground-breaking work. Joseph Campbell Foundation is a US registered 501c(3) not-for-profit corporation (Federal Tax I.D. #99-0285097); contributions should be fully tax-deductible. Please consult your tax professional regarding deductibility.
Tax-deductible donations can be made online by clicking here, or by sending a check to:
Joseph Campbell Foundation
P.O. Box 36
San Anselmo, CA 94979-0036
Thank you for your support!