As a strong believer in the psychic unity of mankind and its poetic expression through mythology, Campbell made use of the concept to express the idea that the whole of the human race can be seen as engaged in the effort of making the world “transparent to transcendence” by showing that underneath the world of phenomena lies an eternal source which is constantly pouring its energies into this world of time, suffering, and ultimately death. To achieve this task one needs to speak about things that existed before and beyond words, a seemingly impossible task, the solution which lies in the metaphors found in myths. These were statements that pointed beyond themselves into the transcendent. The Hero’s Journey was that story of the man or woman who, through great suffering, reached an experience of the eternal source and returned with gifts powerful enough to set their society free. As this story spread through space and evolved through time, it was broken down into various local forms (masks), depending on the social structures and environmental pressures that existed for the culture that interpreted it. The basic structure, however, has remained relatively unchanged and can be classified using the various stages of a hero’s adventure through it, stages such as the Call to Adventure, Receiving Supernatural Aid, Meeting with the Goddess/Atonement with the Father and Return. These stages, as well as the symbols one encounters throughout the story, provide the necessary metaphors to express the spiritual truths the story is trying to convey.
Self-styling compliments a naturalistic outlook, it doesn’t destroy it. Art will not replace religion, but it can provide partial cures for the nausea we are exposed to in a world of honesty and nihilism. While it may seem to be opposed to naturalism, self-styling is indeed the most pragmatic way to balance aesthetic satisfaction and naturalistic affirmation without compromising a scientific perspective by purporting to represent the self and the world as they exists, only as we might imagine them to be.
What do you think Nietzsche would make of Campbell’s Monomyth? Or Campbell of the idea of “self-styling”? Are these two sides of the same coin, so to speak?