Joseph Campbell on
"Call of the Hero" with Joseph Campbell interviewed by Michael Toms
New Dimensions Foundation audio tape from a live interview on San Francisco's radio station KQED
following exchange was part of a discussion of the question of: What is creativity?
Toms: In a
sense it's the going for, the jumping over the edge and moving into the
adventure that really catalyzes the creativity, isn't it?
Campbell: I would say so,
you don't have creativity otherwise.
Otherwise there's no fire, you're just following somebody else's rules.
Campbell: Well, my wife is
a dancer. She has had dance companies for many, many years. I don't know
whether I should talk about this. But when the young people are really
adventuring, it's amazing what guts they have and what meager lives they can be
living, and yet the richness of the action in the studio. Then, you are going
to have a concert season. They all have to join a union. And as soon as they
join a union, their character changes. (emphasis added, but Campbell changed the tone
of his voice) There are rules of how many hours a day you can rehearse. There
are certain rules of how many weeks of rehearsal you can have. They bring this
down like a sledge hammer on the whole thing. There are two mentalities. There's
the mentality of security, of money. And there's the mentality of open risk.
other societies we can look and see that there are those that honor elders. In
our society it seems much like the elders are part of the main stream and there
is a continual kind of wanting to turn away from what the elders have to say,
the way it is, the way to do it. The union example is a typical one, where the
authority, institution, namely the union comes in and says this is the way it's
done. And then one has to fall into line or one has to find something else to
Campbell: That's right.
it's like treating this dichotomy between elders and the sons and daughters of
the elders. How do you see that in relationship to other cultures?
Campbell: This comes to
the conflict of the art, the creative art and economic security. I don't think
I have seen it in other cultures. The artist doesn't have to buck against quite
the odds that he has to buck against today.
artist is honored in other cultures.
Campbell: He is honored
and quickly honored. But you might hit it off, something that really strikes
the need and requirements of the day. Then you've given your gift early. But
basically it is a real risk. I think that is so in any adventure, even in
business, the man who has the idea of a new kind of gift (emphasis
added) to society and he is willing to risk it (this is exactly what George
Gilder says in chapter three, "The Returns of Giving" in his book Wealth
and Poverty). Then the workers come in and claim they are the ones that did it. Then he (the entrepreneur) can't afford to
perform his performance. It's a grotesque conflict, I think between the
security and the creativity ideas. The entrepreneur is a creator, he's running
in American capitalistic society the entrepreneur is the creative hero in some
Oh, I think he is, I mean the real one. Most people go into economic activities
not for risk but for security. You see what I mean. And the elder psychology
tends to take over.
discussion ended and after a short break a new topic was discussed.