A Talk By Joseph Campbell
There comes a point, a threshold crossing, where everything that you’ve been taught is of no use to you whatsoever. This is the moment of dismemberment, of divestiture. It is symbolized in such mythological images as Jonah swallowed by the whale, the god Osiris torn to pieces, the crucifixion of Christ. The trip is going to take you, if it is really your trip, to the moment of decision: follow your way or follow the way of prudence. That is the breakthrough. And what follows are trials which become greater and greater and greater until you come down to an ultimate abyss, and the experience you were seeking.
The women of my life stand in a full circle around me, waiting for me to choose among them. The clothes and expression and posture of each woman recall a particularly intense moment in our lives together. I look into their eyes and see them pleading. This is my dream and my nightmare.
I’ve been passing pennies on the sidewalk. There seem to be a lot, as if I’m not the only one who doesn’t bother anymore to lean down and pick them up. After all, what good’s a penny anymore? It’s enough to buy a memory. Every time I see one I think of my Grandma Bralley.