October 24, 2021

"We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known... we have only to follow the thread of the hero path."

"And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a God. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outwards, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Wrote Joseph Campbell, in a popular "hero's path" quote that is printed on the wall of the Soho gallery showing "The Journey Home’ a Hunter Biden Solo Exhibition," visible in photographs at "Hunter Biden’s wife seen at SoHo gallery as controversial art show opens" (NY Post).
The gallery wall contained a quote from author Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” about the hero’s adventure in mythology. Campbell, a literature professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, coined the phrase “Follow your bliss.”

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Campbell's famous book so you can refresh your memory of this thing you must have learned at one point in your life (I know I did, 50 years ago).  Campbell looked at the  stories of OsirisPrometheus, the BuddhaMosesMohammed, and Jesus and decided that they were enough alike that they could be boiled down into what he called "the monomyth" (or "hero's journey"):

"The hero's adventure" begins in the ordinary world. He must depart from the ordinary world, when he receives a call to adventure.

Yeah, Hunter did that. 

With the help of a mentor...

 Joe? 

... the hero will cross a guarded threshold, leading him to a supernatural world, where familiar laws and order do not apply.

 Drugs? 

There, the hero will embark on a road of trials, where he is tested along the way. The archetypal hero is sometimes assisted by allies. As the hero faces the ordeal, he encounters the greatest challenge of the journey. Upon rising to the challenge...

 Gets off drugs. 

... the hero will receive a reward, or boon.

Art talent!

Campbell's theory of the monomyth continues with the inclusion of a metaphorical death and resurrection. The hero must then decide to return with this boon to the ordinary world. The hero then faces more trials on the road back. Upon the hero's return, the boon or gift may be used to improve the hero's ordinary world, in what Campbell calls, the application of the boon.

 He bestows his artwork to the world via this big one-man show in a Soho art gallery.

But wait a minute. To observe that hero myths follow this narrative arc is not to say that any story that follows this narrative arc must be the story of a hero. But you can say that about yourself if you want. Why would you want? Maybe it's helpful to think of yourself as a hero. If Hunter Biden can be a hero, why then, oh, why, can't I?

There must be motivational speakers out there exhorting you to "be the hero of your own story." A quick google unearths this horrific Joe Rogan pep talk from 2014:

22 comments:

Lurker21 said...

“The Hero with a Thousand Faces”

I have three or four copies of that book in scattered in various boxes, but I never read it.

Hunter's in the right company. When Campbell was doing television interviews with Bill Moyers, they were both criticized for being phonies.

That seems about right, but I'll let you know for sure if I ever get around to reading the book.

rhhardin said...

Has Hallmark movies gone woke yet? I've not sampled a recent one.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Hunter Biden makes me sick. He pulled in tens of millions of dollars thru illegal channels opened for him by his VP father.

If you support Hunter or buy his art - you are a moral degenerate. Just like Hunter.

Temujin said...

Hilarious stuff.

Someday some people are going to ask themselves what they were thinking in purchasing a 'Hunter Biden'.

I don't know what we were thinking about

Bob Boyd said...

We have not even to risk the adventure alone for daddy was a US Senator, Vice President and now President of the United States. The labyrinth is thoroughly known... we have only to follow the money.

madAsHell said...

Emoluments?

Michael K said...

Money laundering is remunerative.

Fredrick said...

Just as one quotes famous authors, philosophers, or politicians so as to appear learned, Hunter is provided a quote so as to appear heroic. Has he turned in his drug dealer or successfully gone through rehab? In today's environment heroic members of the press would be asking those questions.

Sebastian said...

"Hunter Biden’s wife seen at SoHo gallery as controversial art show opens"

When will his Arkansas baby make it to the show? Come to think of it, why haven't we seen any cute baby pictures of Joe's grandchild yet?

Yancey Ward said...

LMAO! Open and blantant bribery as a hero story. Talk about gaslighting.

Amadeus 48 said...

I'd say Hunter and his handlers (and their financial--a-hem--sponsors) need to absorb every second of Joe Rogan's talk. It is six hours and 29 minutes shorter than a performance of Gotterdammerung, but it carries the same message. Of course, Joe left out the part where Valhalla burns up at the end.

Lem said...

My movie is a gun free zone now.

Narr said...

If Hunter Biden is a hero, I'm Queen of the May.

wildswan said...

So if one person is reading Dante and placing eugenicists in various spots among the bloody tyrants or else among fraudulent down in the Inferno and another person is reading Dante and placing prolifers in various appropriate spots among the heretics or the traitors, both are on the same hero's path. This where I think anthropology falls down. It may (I say, may) have devised a language that does not prejudge a culture so that all are on a level where comparisons can be made and similarities noted - apples to apples. But in the end people want to know the truth about them, not the similarities and differences. And then the language which has been formulated to exclude that question becomes useless. Anthropologically, Hunter Biden may have been on a hero's quest just like Frodo. Actually he was not on a quest, he was being decadent in all the standard ways and the "art sale" is more of the same.

mikee said...

What Althouse is describing is also used in films. A quote from a famous source, about something deeply philosophical, can be placed at the beginning of a movie to indicate that no matter how vile the film itself is, there is a higher purpose in viewing it.

As an example, the Penthouse-produced XXX film "Caligula" opened with a biblical quote, Mark 8:36, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" This was followed by two hours of grotesque violence and hardcore sex. But it was all about the soul, right?

Similarly, Hunter is grifting in a corrupt manner, but it is all really about his journay as a hero through his own life. Riiiiiiiight.

mezzrow said...

Hunter has some shadow work to do.

As for Hallmark, perhaps they could just have people cancelled rather than murdered.
By order of the Committee for Public Safety. There's a reasonable case to be made.

Original Mike said...

"Here's the Wikipedia entry on Campbell's famous book so you can refresh your memory of this thing you must have learned at one point in your life (I know I did, 50 years ago)."

"must have"? Am I the only one who doesn't know who this guy is? I wouldn't be surprised. I have heard the name, but that's it. 50 years ago I had my hands full learning math and physics.

Mike Sylwester said...

Of course, the movie Dirty Dancing can be analyzed from a perspective that Baby Houseman accomplishes a heroic journey.

Baby Houseman's Heroic Journey -- Part 1

That post is the first of a 17-part series.

My inspiration to write the series originated from an essay by Daniel Wikey, who had earned a university degree with a major in Anthropology and Religious Studies. Wikey argued that the Dirty Dancing story portrays Baby Houseman as following "almost precisely the ten-step heroic initiation process". Wikey wrote:

.... By comparing Baby’s tale with Greek myth, we learn that, far from simply being a movie about achieving one’s dreams, Dirty Dancing is a primal tale of an arduous and difficult journey from sexual ignorance to enlightenment, filled with symbols representing Baby’s metamorphosis into a sexually awakened adult. ...

All heroes must voyage to the underworld and come to terms with their own mortality; although in Baby’s case she does not physically travel to the land of death, she experiences how death could potentially affect her — namely, how being a woman means that one has to come into contact with death and return to survive. Penny returns from the abortion weak and trembling, seemingly on the verge of death. ...

Baby does not die or become immortal to achieve apotheosis, but she does achieve a god-like status by being lifted into the air by Johnny during the movie’s final dance. He slowly lifts her up, a spotlight illuminating her head, as the music swells .... showing the triumph she has achieved from making it through the liminality of her journey’s trials — gaining knowledge of what is means to be mature — before becoming the adult she is now. She is literally looked up upon by the audience — having made it through her journey, she is raised into the sky, symbolically representing her now semi-divine status from achieving her transformation. ...

The subject of adolescents and their journey to maturity fascinates human society, for it is a transition every functioning adult has made, and every child will have to make. Baby herself ends the film having learned more about her own nature, about both good things that come with maturity (romance, responsibility) and the bad (the downsides of romance and responsibility). ...

Will Cate said...

The thing that really ruins that Rogan clip is the dramatic background music.

Mark O said...

Campbell's book should be carefully read, not dismissed.
Hunter Biden's journey is not that of a hero.

Joe Smith said...

So is the underage Chinese hooker/spy a metaphor for the Golden Fleece?

Confused...

William said...

We are, all of us, on a long, fool's errand to the grave. If we can somehow convince ourselves that our errand is a hero's journey, then so much the better. It makes the trip more bearable if we think it leads somewhere and that the potholes and uphill sections have made us better people.....I read the Campbell book when I was much younger. It really is inspirational. I'm glad I read it and believed in it for a while.....I don't think Hunter got much out of the book. One sure sign that indicates that you have not completed or even undertaken a hero's journey is to intimate to the world that you are the finished product of a hero's journey. It's pretty cool that he thinks going on a three day coke binge with expensive hookers was part of an ordeal that has made him a better man, but that's not the way it works.