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The Hero -theory, mythology and the Bene Gesserit


I’m really surprised Joseph Campbell is cited as such an influence on modern legend and I suspect George Lucas famously dropped his name as a sneaky ploy for credibility. 

Why would I say such a rude thing?  I read Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces and it is very nearly nothing what it is claimed to be.  Rather than academically explore how legends are structured and what psychology makes them appealing, the book seems to be an excuse to parade obscure folktales - folktales that support the text just as much as they contradict it.  Whenever Campbell rambles back to making a point, he does it with such over-bearing mystic flower-child overtones that I nearly miss the occasional tidbit relevant to western legend and theology.  Yes, western Judeo-Christian-dominated culture has a nearly psychotic case of misogyny but that is all the more reason to explore how human psychology subverted the status quo through mythology to sustain the divine mother (it did, right?) and not get bogged down in arguing djinn or absolute Hindu deities.  And if you’re going to talk about Hindu deities, then at least try to relate them to the topic of the book (Heroes maybe?).

Maybe Lucas just read the chapter headings – this seems to be the most useful part of the book, as if the lessons were so straightforward that they could each be covered in a single-sentence heading and any text that follows is simply an extraneous attempt at elaboration.  Certainly, browsing through the table of contents fires the imagination along many associative lines, triggering memories of stories, novels and movies from one’s past.  If one is to get anything out of this book, be prepared to let your mind wander back to these old stories whenever it desires.
While reading Hero of a Thousand Faces, I found my memories of Frank Herbert’s Dune to be invaluable.  The assumed points of Campbell’s artless ramblings are all nicely illustrated within the pages of Dune; from the fallen father and the rising son to the divine secrets of femininity and the youth’s quest to qualify status and purpose.  It probably comes as no surprise that I believe Dune is not only a successful novel but, without even trying, makes a better ‘text-book’ than Campbell’s over-credited attempt. 


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