Last Reviewed on February 11, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 395
Joseph Campbell’s The Inner Reaches of Outer Space is an investigation into the power of myth and its ability to convince people to live by the universalistic meanings that myth provides. By utilizing a Jungian literary perspective, Campbell elucidates mythmaking as a process of individual self-discovery. He argues that the perfection of people’s personal spiritual development will ultimately produce a kind of parity between their own beliefs and the predominant mythology of the day, regardless of their geographical location or place in time. His narrative is not organized chronologically, but rather thematically.
After considering the roles of myth and metaphor as producers of both religion and what people generally consider to be fact, Campbell moves into a discussion of art. His conjecture is that art is the highest expression of our consistently evolving consciousness, and he regards the artist as the creator of a conduit between the internal spiritual world and the external mythical one. For example, he writes,
finally, it must be asked: “How far does one’s mercy reach” (Romans 11:32)? For only so far do the inner and outer worlds meet. And just so far is the reach of one’s art.
Campbell’s general argument Campbell is that it is possible to form a bridge between the external expression of mythology in society and one’s internal representation of it. The formation of this bridge lies within the domain of art.
Campbell’s argument bears striking similarity to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and his discussion of mankind as a kind of bridge that...
(The entire section contains 395 words.)
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