Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Krishna or Christ

Krishna or Christ

Ratings: (0)|Views: 22|Likes:
Published by Jorge Vargas

More info:

Published by: Jorge Vargas on Apr 01, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

04/01/2011

pdf

text

original

 
Reviews
and
Comments
Krishna
or
Christ?
Owen
A.
Jones
A
Fire in the Mind: The Life
of
Joseph Campbell,
by Stephen andRobin Larsen,
New
York:
Doubleday,1991.
636
pp.
$21.95.
THIS
IS
the story
of
how an overly sensi-tive, bright, and precocious son of analcoholic travelling salesman becamesuccessful in post-Christian America.
A
Fire
in
the Mind
is
a sympathetic treat-ment, on the order of spiritual biogra-phy, of the
life
of
Joseph Campbell bytwo people who shared his dreams (lit-erally: Stephen Larsen
is
a “licenseddream therapist”).Joseph Campbell became famouslatein
life,
with the help of a
PBS
specialseries of interviews on
The PowerofMyth
that was created by
Bill
Moyers. But
A
Fire in the Mind
is
not really an importanthistoriography
of
myth. It
is
about theman himself and his search for himself.Since many Americans today are insearch of themselves, it
is
a story
of
a
life
that perfectly mirrors its time.Joseph Campbell was born in
1904
toupper middle class, “self-reliant,” NewEngland Roman Catholics.
He
sufferedas a young boy from the major dishar-mony caused by an itinerant but suc-cessful alcoholic father, and seriousbouts of illness.
He
treated his familydysfunction by retreating into the worldof fable and wonder that he discoveredin Iroquis myths.
His
physical illnesseswere treated with morphine.
He
became “fascinated with the primi-tives,” and while an undergraduate atColumbia he found the book that changedhis life:
The Golden Bough,
by Sir JamesFrazer. Ayoung poet had recently causeda sensation in the literary world with hispoem
The WasteLand,
which used mythicimages to describe the bits and pieces ofa chaotic and disordered civilization.
T.
S.
Eliot courageously pushed beyond thelevel
of
myth, reconnecting those bitsand pieces in one of the greatest Chris-tian poems of our tradition.Campbell’s
life
continued to veer inthe direction
of
chaos.
His
attempts tojoin his father in the business worldhavingfailed, he returned
to
Columbia todo graduate work, focusing on “ArthurianStudies,” while dabbling in theosophyand astrology.
His
personal journals of this periodreveal
“a
brooding introversion,” accord-ing to his biographers. What also
ap
pears in his journal
is
a manic desire tobe accepted and loved by others as aknowledgeable and important person:
My
own
plan
is
to study psychology
so
that
I
may someday be
a
great teacher.
I
shall write
&
teach
&do
anything that will
Modem
Age
165
 
assist me
on
my way and win me money.
I
shall save my money. Then-if my lifebegins to get tedious
I
shall pack off
to
theOrient or the south
seas
to write &studyand teach there. Someday
I
shall havegained experience
&
prestige enough todo
as
1
please-then
I
think
I
shall writeand teach some more.”
His
college journal entries are remark-ably prescient. In another self-sketch hewrites:
I
feel
now that my lifework will be finallydiscovered.
I
feel
as
though my destinyimpels me toward my goal
&
1
shall relaxto its efforts hereafter.”
His
biographers describe this journalentry as evidence
of
Campbell’s
metanoiu,
“a deeper change of mind.”Readers with the most basic philosophi-cal knowledge will detect more in theway of an adolescent ego-expansion thanany real conversion.Indeed, upon leaving Columbia noth-ing changed
but
the venue. Campbellthrew himself into the alchemy ofPicasso’s Paris and John SteinbecksMonterey Peninsula, searching for
a
sys-tem that would satisfy his yearnings,while drinking other people’s booze, lust-ing after their women, and dancing in thenude.
His
goal was “toinitiate the world intohis creative discovery.”But was the worldreally big enough to appreciate him?Perhaps Campbell doubted that it was.What else would explain his skepticism
of
all
of
the great religious traditions ofthe world?“Clearly Christianity
is
opposed fun-damentally and intrinsically to every-thing that
I
am working and living for,”wrote Campbell in his Asian Journal-amature opinion penned in
1955,
“and forthe modern world,
I
believe, with all of itsfaiths and traditions, Krishna
is
a
much
better teacher and model than Christ.”Krishna, being one
of
the avatars
of
Vishnu, and hero of the Bhagavad-Cita,
is
a member
of
the Hindu pantheon.Hindus expect that someday Vishnu willreturn to earth, eliminate all evil, andusher in a Golden Age of mankind. Hopefor such an apocalyptic victory overdisorder may have been one
of
Campbell’s life-sustaining dreams.For whatever reason, he refused toinvestigate the apocalypse of the soulpromised by Christ to his followers. DidCampbell understand the teaching ofChrist or Krishna? Or was he content to“sit around and
look
wise,” as he oncedescribed his family role in his boyhoodjournal?The Sanskrit scholar Jeffrey Massondoubted Campbell’s credentials to sayanything credible about the East:
“He’s very much
a
Jungian..
.
.When
I
met Campbell at
a
public gathering hewas quoting Sanskrit verses.
He
had noclue
as
to what he was talking about; hehad the most superficial knowledge ofIndia but he could use it for his ownaggrandizement.
I
remember thinking: thisman
is
corrupt.
I
know that he was simply
lying
about his understanding.
.
.
.
I
triedto point this out to him politely.”
Campbell artfully dodged such criti-cism throughout his
life, as
in this poten-tially damaging exchange with MartinBuber:
“Excuse me, Professor Buber,” he said,“but there’s one word you’ve been usingquite a lot that
I
don’t quite understand.”
“Yes,
Mr. Campbell,” said Buber, “what
is
that word?“God,” answered Campbell.There
was
a
shocked silence.
“You
don’t understand what
I
mean by theword ‘God,’ Mr. Campbell?”“Well, sometimes you seem to be refer-ring
to
a
universal cosmic principle, andstill at other times,
to
the Jehovah
of
theOld Testament, and still others to someone with whom
you
have personal con-versations. I’ve just come back fromspending seven months in India, wherepeople have constant and daily experi-ence
of
God. They dance God, sing, play,
166
Winter
1992

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->