Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Adventure and the Hero's Quest

Last year while watching Peter Jackson's retelling of KING KONG (starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, etc.) I had a revelation: I love adventure movies.

In fact, if you recall, King Kong is broken into 2 main parts: the traveling to the island and discovery of all that lived there and then, later, the taking of King Kong back to the States. I found myself entranced with the first half and bored with the second. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Goonies, The Lord of the Rings, The Fisher King, 2001 - all stories that steal us away on an adventure.

There's something about discovery, magical lands, long journeys, and the process of uncovering the veiled that I find both primal and fascinating. Alan Watts talks about the zen concept of Yugen: "To watch the sun sink behind a flower-clad hill, to wander on and on in a huge forest without thought of return, to stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands, to contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds."

And though I'm not always in this mindset, I've had fun in the past "playing" my day as though it were an adventure story: seeing each person I came in contact with as a fascinating character that would change the course of the story, looking on my environment as a magical place, taking on apathy, temptation or other distractions as dragons to be slain, and treating goals as if they were grails to attain.

It is for this reason that I've finally picked up Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" (though I've read plenty of other of Campbell's work) and have begun making my way through it.

"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." (Joseph Campbell)

Now playing on Trev's iTunes: Sting - I Was Brought To My Senses
via FoxyTunes


isaiah said...

I hate the second half of King Kong, but own it because of the first.

You'll love "Hero." It will sing to you. When I first read Hero, right after being introduced to Joseph in high school the idea of monomythic structure made complete sense to me; how could it be any other way?

After reading Hero, read The Hero's Journey, if you haven't already. It's Joseph on Joseph and make for wonderful insight on the man and his life contributions... and you've got to read Thou Art That as well.

He led a life only a few could ever dream possible, working with brilliant, brilliant scholars and rockstars, equally at home. I especially delight in his love for his wife and her artist expressions in dance.

Enjoy Hero and let me know what you think. Every time I pick it up I get chill bumps.

Stephen Larsen and Robin Larsen wrote a wonderful biography on Joseph called A Fire In The Mind... where they describe his early adult summers (he really was privileged to be able to summer as he did) spent reading book after book after book, forming his ideas and glimpsing into the mysterious.


Craig LaSuer said...

Getting ready for an adventure of some sort?

Jon said...

I love that you apply the adventure to you daily life... I've got to do that more myself.