I am a fan of Joseph Campbell. Around a year ago I was at the Newberry Library in Chicago. This is a private library with unique collections just a few blocks off of Michigan Avenue. I picked up MYTHS TO LIVE BY by Joseph Campbell. I had read HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES while I was in D.C. By the way, if you are a Star Wars fan reading HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES will seem very, very familiar. It is any wonder that George Lucas was at an award dinner for Campbell, and is very clear his script for Star Wars takes Luke on a hero’s journey which is very clearly laid out in Campbell’s book.
MYTHS TO LIVE BY I have to admit the book is kind of mind-blowing. It seems to a study of mythology, religion and provides many modern comparisons. It is the type of book that you have to read over and over again, and may have to read a few other books to get the gist, unless you have a degree in Theology and are into Sanskrit, Kant, and quotes by Walt Whitman. However, for your classical scholars it starts for me on page 179: “The two greatest of war mythology in the West are, accordingly, the Iliad, and the Old Testament.”
When it comes to books, there is an added value that can never be experienced with a Kindle. I am always thrilled to get a look into who may have read the book before. Welcome to the world of book archeology. Clues are obtained by what people leave inside the book. This can come in the form of news articles dated and carefully folded to act as bookmarks, and those people who love to write in the margins.
Lets get our shovels out and let’s see what we can find. Ready?
Let’s check the copyright date: 1972.
It had three printings ending in 1973. Note* I’m sure its been republished several times beyond that.
On the first page is a name: JOHN CHICK, 910 SOUTH MICHIGAN. Now I’m not quite sure what the following means, “6th”
Does this mean 6th floor of the apartment building? If this means he was in the sixth grade, I would say that John Chick was very advanced for his age.
Note* There is also a post card stuffed in the pages. It was there when I bought the book for a dollar. Postmark is: Chicago, Il, 6 Dec 1972. It is address to Flip Myers at 2571 E. 71st Street in Chicago, Illinois. Could this be a 2nd reader after John Chick? Lisa sent it to Flip. Next to her name is a tiny flower drawn with pen. The text of the post car reads: “Flip: hey!! Lisa (flower drawing) P.S. (Having a good time; wish you were here.) The post card on the front has the MIRO painting titled Femme devant la fencire (Woman in front of a window). It is a definite abstraction by Miro.
It’s impossible for me to make this stuff up.
John Chick, who I assume is the last owner of the book, is an avid margin note taker. A very special breed that likes to put their thoughts in the margins. Chick underlines, and puts his thoughts down in the book using a blue pen. They range from:
“Utter concentration” next to a paragraph that mentions “…angelic skills….” of the craftsman of ancient Japan and China. To “How is society to function if all reach nirvana?” next to a paragraph on “…the extinguishing of ego”
On a paragraph on the lack of fatherly parenting he writes in a corner: “DEFINED A BOGUS PREJUDICED RAP”
John Chick then again makes his comments know by writing on top of page 243: “How can he say that coming out of a schizo trip would be good for all?”
I’m not sure what John Chick was thinking. The page is talking about circling the moon and is referencing the earth as an oasis.
I have to say John Chick LIKED THE BOOK. How do I know? On the last page is written the following.
“Does he (Campbell) know, that his book is a ‘trip’ in itself?” In 1970s parlance…high praise.
I once read that history is defined as a “a note in the margin.”
John…what are you up to now? It’s nice to know that I’m not the first to be on this ‘dig.’ Some leave a shovel. Some leave a footprint. You left your thoughts.