Joseph Campbell: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

“…To understand the psychosis of the patriarchal mind.” 

Caroline Wells Chandler

Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars. 
As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists — including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers — and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

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Further Reading: 

The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology (PDF)

Additional Resources:

Joseph Cambell Foundation (website)
Joseph Campbell: The Power of Mythology Documentary Series: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6

Langston Hughes: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes 

“The ultimate book for both the dabbler and serious scholar–. [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music–. This book is a glorious revelation.”–Boston Globe

Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America–and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman. Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel.
Alongside such famous works as “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and Montage of a Dream Deferred,The Collected Poemsincludes the author’s lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as “Goodbye Christ” that were once suppressed. Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

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Additional Resources:

Langston Hughes Speaking at UCLA, 1967 (video)
Meet the Past: Langston Hughes at the Kansas Public Library (video)

The Negro in American Culture: Group Discussion with Baldwin, Hughes, Hansberry, Capouya and Kazin (video)
Academy of Poets: Langston Hughes (website)

Italy Calvino: The Complete Cosmicomics 

“I’m currently reading this, which is a book of short stories- cosmicomics- by Italo Calvino. The way he writes set my imagination off; his descriptions and details built up crazy images in my head and I like the short story format a lot – it suits my way of working and my short attention span so he is perfect for the studio as I dart between painting, drawing writing and reading” –Molly Rose Butt

We were peering into this darkness, criss-crossed with voices, when the change took place: the only real, great change I’ve ever happened to witness, and compared to it the rest is nothing.” — from The Complete Cosmicomics

Italo Calvino’s beloved cosmicomics cross planets and traverse galaxies, speed up time or slow it down to the particles of an instant. Through the eyes of an ageless guide named Qfwfq, Calvino explores natural phenomena and tells the story of the origins of the universe. Poignant, fantastical, and wise, these thirty-four dazzling stories — collected here in one definitive anthology — relate complex scientific and mathematical concepts to our everyday world. They are an indelible (and unfailingly delightful) literary achievement.

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Further Reading: 

Invisible Cities (PDF)
Six Memos for the Next Millenium (PDF)
Why Read the Classics (essay)

Additional Resources: 

Gore Vidal on Italo Calvino (video)
Publisher’s Weekly: 10 Best Italo Calvino Books (article)

Terrence McKenna: Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Dugs and Human Revolution 

“I came across food of the gods randomly when I was living in East Texas and 10 years ago. I was learning how to farm and wanted to know more about mycology and stumbled upon the weird and wonderful McKenna who writes exactly the way he speaks. I say so in case there are people out there who would prefer listening over reading. All of his talks are archived on The Psychedelic Salon. The host Lorenzo who is a bit annoying use to be hardcore right and switched teams after an experience.” 

Caroline Wells Chandler 

The ethnobotanist co-author of Psilocybin: The Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (not reviewed) puts forth the theory that magic mushrooms are the original “tree of knowledge” and that the general lack of psychedelic exploration is leading Western society toward eventual collapse or destruction–controversial statements, to say the least, though the argument’s details often prove fascinating. In the beginning, McKenna tells us, there were protohumans with small brains and plenty of genetic competition, and what eventually separated the men from the apes was an enthusiasm for the hallucinogenic mushrooms that grew on the feces of local cattle. Claiming that psilocybin in the hominid diet would have enhanced eyesight, sexual enjoyment, and language ability and would have thereby placed the mushroom-eaters in the front lines of genetic evolution–eventually leading to hallucinogen-ingesting shamanistic societies, the ancient Minoan culture, and some Amazonian tribes today–McKenna also asserts that the same drugs are now outlawed in the US because of their corrosive effect on our male-dominated, antispiritual society. Unconsciously craving the vehicles by which our ancestors expanded their imaginations and found meaning in their lives, he says, we feast on feeble substitutes: coffee, sugar, and chocolate, which reinforce competition and aggressiveness; tobacco, which destroys our bodies; alcohol, whose abuse leads to male violence and female degradation; TV, which deadens our senses; and the synthetics–heroin, cocaine and their variations–which leave us victimized by our own addiction. On the other hand, argues McKenna, magic mushrooms, used in a spiritually enlightened, ritual manner, can open the door to greater consciousness and further the course of human evolution- -legalization of all drugs therefore is, he says, an urgent necessity. 

Kirkus Reviews
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Further Writings by the Author: 

The Archaic Revival (PDF)

True Hallucinations (PDF)

Lecture Transcript: The Importance of Human Beings (text)

Lecture Transcript: Culture and Ideology are Not Your Friends (text)
Additional Resources: 

We Don’t Know Enough About the Universe to Have Anxiety (audio)

Final Earthbound Interview (video)

The Future of Humanity: McKenna, Sheldrake, Abraham (video)

Psychedelics Before and After History (video)  

Francis Barker: The Tremulous Private Body 

In the seventeenth century there was a profound change in the conditions and representation of the body. Reflecting on a wide range of works, including the Jacobean drama, Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, rembrandt’s painting, the philosophy of descartes, milton’s areopagitica and Samuel Pepys’ diary, Francis Barkers essay maps a transformation of the spectacular corporeality of the dramatic stage and the scaffold of public execution in the course of which a sexually embarrassing body is redefined, privatized and pushed away from discourse into a furtive half-life beyond the text. The new regime separates the body from the soul and divides the body into two components: the absent body whose desires and appetites are denied, and the positive body which is eventually reinscribed as an object of rational knowledge, prepared for productive and disciplined labour. Built into the argument is an evocation of the way in which this process defines not only the new body, but equally the conditions of modern subjectivity and subjection. The self-gendered subject is constructed comes to define the orders of discourse and of representation which typify the bourgeois epoch. Drawing on the theoretical work of foucault, Derrida, and lacan, and the Marxism of Louis Althusser, the tremulous private body engages the central theme of post-structuralism- discourse, sexuality, textuality and power- but is not a post structuralist work and rejected many of the positions characteristic of post-structuralism, particularly its tendency to depoliticize discourse.
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Yukio Mishima: Five Modern No Plays 

Japanese No drama is one of the great art forms that has fascinated people throughout the world. The late Yukio Mishima, one of Japan’s outstanding post-war writers, infused new life into the form by using it for plays that preserve the style and inner spirit of No and are at the same time so modern, so direct, and intelligible that they could, as he suggested, be played on a bench in Central Park. Here are five of his No plays, stunning in their contemporary nature and relevance and finally made available again for readers to enjoy.

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Further Writings: 

Spring Snow: The Sea of Fertility (Ebook)
Sun and Steel (PDF)

Additional Resources:

BBC Documentary: The Strange Case of Yukio Mishima (Video)
YUKOKU (Patriotism) Film by Yukio Mishima (video)
Interview, with subtitles provided by YouTube CC(video)

William Hogarth: The Analysis of Beauty 

Born three hundred years ago in Smithfield, London, William Hogarth established himself as a central figure in eighteenth-century English culture through his paintings, engravings, and outspoken art criticism. In this new edition of Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty—a unique work combining theory with practical advice on painting—Ronald Paulson includes the complete text of the original work; an introduction that places the Analysis in the tradition of aesthetic treatises and Hogarth’s own “moral” works; extensive annotation of the text and accompanying illustrations; and illuminating manuscript passages that Hogarth omitted from the final printed version.

In the development of English aesthetics, the Analysis of Beautytakes a position of high significance. Hogarth’s stature in his own time suggests the importance of his attempt to systematize and theorize his own artistic practice. What he proposes is an aesthetics of the middle range, subordinating both the Beautiful and the Sublime to the everyday world of human choice and contingency—essentially the world of Hogarth’s own modern moral subjects, his engraved works.
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Rainer Marie Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet 

In 1903, a student at a military academy sent some of his verses to a well-known Austrian poet, requesting an assessment of their value. The older artist, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), replied to the novice in this series of letters — an amazing archive of remarkable insights into the ideas behind Rilke’s greatest poetry. The ten letters reproduced here were written during an important stage in Rilke’s artistic development, and they contain many of the themes that later appeared in his best works. The poet himself afterwards stated that his letters contained part of his creative genius, making this volume essential reading for scholars, poetry lovers, and anyone with an interest in Rilke, German poetry, or the creative impulse.

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Additional Writings by the Author: 

Compilation of Poetry (PDF)
Project Gutenberg Collection of Poetry (text)
On Love and Other Difficulties (PDF)

John White: The Birth and Rebirth of Pictorial Space 

Dr White’s careful historical study of the rediscovery of pictorial space during the Renaissance, and its origins in antiquity, was acclaimed when first published as a pioneering and highly important work. For the second edition he has revised the notes and bibliography, and has taken account of the new importance accorded to the distance point construction in Italian painting of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

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Henry Miller: Tropic of Capricorn 

Miller’s sprawling masterpiece was launched by the Obelisk Press, a French publisher of soft pornography as Tropic of Cancer, with a cover by Maurice Girodias, who would later become famous as the leading French publisher of erotic literature. Wrapped in an explicit warning (“Not to be imported into Great Britain or USA”), it set a new gold standard for graphic language and explicit sexuality. From the outset, Miller’s “barbaric yawp” shook US censorship and inflamed American literary sensibility to its core. Tropic would remain banned for a generation, by which time it had become part of postwar cultural folklore, smuggled into the US wrapped in scarves and underwear. Rarely has a book had such thrilling and desperate underground beginnings.

The outsider status of Miller’s novel combined with its subject (life and love at the extremes of existence) recommended the book to writers like Orwell and Beckett. In his essay Inside the Whale (1940), Orwell wrote: “I earnestly counsel anyone who has not done so to read at least Tropic of Cancer. With a little ingenuity, or by paying a little over the published price, you can get hold of it, and even if parts of it disgust you, it will stick in your memory … Here in my opinion is the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past.”

For his part Samuel Beckett described it as “a momentous event in the history of modern writing”. In the US, as an outright challenge to the censor, Edmund Wilson noted that “The tone of the book is undoubtedly low. Tropic of Cancer… is the lowest book of any real literary merit that I ever remember to have read.”

Miller’s vision prevailed, in the end. Finally, in 1961, the year after Lady Chatterley’s Lover secured the right to be published in the UK, Tropic of Cancer triumphed in its battle with the US censor and was published by the Grove Press. The timing of this landmark verdict did not favour the ageing iconoclast. At first, his book was treated as the fruit of Miller’s complex relationship with Anaïs Nin, who was an object of veneration within the American feminist movement. Later, feminists like Kate Millett denounced Miller as a male chauvinist, while Jeanette Winterson asked, perceptively: “Why do men revel in the degradation of women?” This question still hangs over the pages of Tropic like a rebuke, but (with a few misgivings) I’m still going to add it to this series.

The Guardian
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Additional Resources:

The Guardian’s 100 Best Novels: No. 59, Tropic of Capricorn 

Henry Miller: Asleep and Awake, a.k.a. Bathroom Monologues, 1975 (video)
Dinner with Henry Miller, 1979 (video)
The Henry Miller Odyssey, 1969 (video)