by.DOM PETER FLOOD, 088
Occidental Mythology by Joseph Campbell (Souvenir Press paperback £2.25) Creative Mythology by Joseph Campbell (Souvenir Press paperback £2.25) These two large volumes conclude a series of four, entitled "The Masks of God," by Joseph Campbell, an author who has written some 20 books on mythology. His intention seems to be that of demonstrating a connection by a sort of inheritance between all these mythologies as they express human imaginings about the Deity.
To this end he has obviously made a long and laborious study of the mythologies of the ancient and the less ancient periods of both East and West. He ranges from Gilgamesh to Irish folklore and fairies and James Joyce.
These books, which are also available in hardback at £4, contain many data which will interest some students of mythology. The author has not noticed the beliefs of his countrymen, the American Red Indians, but he has collated much else and it is perhaps his failure to relate his tales to their own contemporaries and to contrast them with the calm sanity of Jewish and Christian revelation of the Triune God that permits him to evaluate them unduly.
He is hard to read, for he keeps jumping about from one period to another and from the apparently historical to what is merely psychological. The fantasies of James Joyce, and notably his "Ulysses," arc mainly psychological, and all his characters have their contemporary counterparts, easily recognised as actual persons of his entourage. One must therefore wonder whether Joyce would admit to the motivation attributed to him.
As one peruses these pages recording the disconnected fantasies of often highly talented schizophrenics, one recalls the needlessly confused fantasies of such patients, indeed the il lustration adapted, through a
drawing by Al adapted, from
Picasso's "Guernica;" shows their principal characteristic — wonderful depiction of individual items but a defect of composition. It would seem probable that their expressions of their thoughts do not always represent the basis of these thoughts.
There is so much of interest that one can only regret, yet forgive, the author for his continual interconnecting of names and ideologies with little to sup-. port such as these: Ancient deities, Persian lore, Irish fairies, St Thomas Aquinas, St Albert, St Bernard, Holy Writ and pagan idolatry, They are mixed up in doubtful persuasion with Gnostic and other heretical and fanciful Apocrypha.
Though the author lumps the Bible with his myths, he does not seem to admit the existence of the One and Triune God of Revelation and has missed the calm exposition of Biblical teaching and its divorce from the abominations Of the heathens. .
In his conclusion W the first of these long books he says: "There was no Flood, no Tower of Babel, no first couple in Paradise, and between thefirst appearance of men on earth and the first building of cities, not one generation (Adam to Cain) but a good two million must have come into the-world and passed along'. . . our circle today is that announced by Nicholas Cusanus (1401-1464); whose circle is nowhere and whose centre is everywhere; the circle of infinite radius, which is also a straight line . . ."
Maybe this all tics up with a later summary of the author namely, "the earliest creators of myths and rites of primitive mankind may not have been individuals at all, but the genes of the species." Truly one man's guess may sometimes lack factual objectivity. These volumes are well documented and have good indexes.