Imagine Joseph Campbell knowing nothing of schizophrenia

We all have to start somewhere, and mythologist Joseph Campbell is no exception. Amazingly, according to the author, he was beavering away in his academic ivory tower of mythology, and it had to be brought to his attention late in his career (1968) that what he was doing had a real world application to schizophrenia.

In an unintentionally comical response to an invitation to deliver a series of speeches at the Esalen Institute in California, he suggested that rather than speak on schizophrenia, he’d deliver his talk on James Joyce instead.

James Joyce, the author of Finnegan’s Wake? How did he again miss the obvious? Well, miss it he did.

Below is a fragment from the word salad of Joyce:

As the lion in our teargarten remembers the nenuphars of his Nile (shall Ariuz forget Arioun or Boghas the baregams of the Marmarazalles from Marmeniere?) it may be, tots wearsense full a naggin in twentyg have sigilposted what in our brievingbust, the besieged bedreamt him stil and solely of those lililiths undeveiled which had undone him, gone for age, and knew not the watchful treachers at his wake, and theirs to stay. Fooi, fooi, chamermissies! Zeepyzoepy, larcenlads! Zijnzijn Zijnzijn! It may be, we moest ons hasten selves te declareer it, that he reglimmed? presaw? the fields of heat and yields of wheat where corngold Ysit? shamed and shone. It may be, we habben to upseek

Joyce spent the remaining years of his life worried that his work on Finnegan’s Wake caused his daughter’s schizophrenia. Nature or nuture? You decide.

The link in this blog is from Schizophrenia: The Inward journey, by Joseph Campbell, 1970, published in Myths to Live By

1 thought on “Imagine Joseph Campbell knowing nothing of schizophrenia”

  1. Joyce’s passage there is beautiful to me. I used “Joy of Lex” as teaching material for many years.

    This kind of writing or thinking is not owned by SZ but by human beings. Joyce’s writing is a kind of automatic writing from and “automatic thinking or watching the flow of words. but probably edited and re-edited. The artist uses their tools to actualize inner being. The non-artist or amateur cannot do this – it takes years of practice to actualize the self in this way, project mood and experience though art. Moreover Joyce’ stuff requires a great deal of analysis because he is playing off many many literary allusions and themes – you need a English Prof as a guide to his writing – and if you do, you will be well rewarded. What this passage means in context or by itself in his narrative (yes I’m told there is a narrative) ?I do not catch but by itself it is art and as art it resonates in the unconsciousness and affects consciousness with it’s reformulation of symbols and archetypes.
    If a monkey had written that , it would be one God-lucky Monkey.

    Jackson Pollack is another example of random and unconscious expression through art. It’s not truly random, it’s the result of experience and concentration. No, it’s not meaningless – he reached deep into himself to produce those paintings which apparently are similar to brainwave patterns but definitely relay a sense of mood or experience to many appreciative viewers, whether direct enjoyment or as background.

    A SZ writing or speaking often does not have any control or enough experience and does not use it to direct expression, more they are the victim of it.
    SZ actually become involved or over-involved in those processes of consciousness which the ordinary person does not become involved in.

    They are involuntary explorers of consciousness. Those processes of themselves are not invalid activities, the disintegration of the SZ mind is the problem. Language is all about usage and creative development.

    If Joyce worried about that he wasted his time – better off to use that time to write another book or use that reflective time to think about how he could communicate with his daughter and help guide her.

    He could write ordinary narratives as well – I much enjoyed “Dubliners”.
    “ililiths” soemhow from Jabberwocky – some of taht mood of facing the Jabberwodk seems there.
    “fields of heat and yields of wheat where corngold Ysit” – sounds Van Gogh beautiful but seems to be shamed and shone. My, oh cry what could have crappened? 😉

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