Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

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By the Force of Your Will....

I miss Joseph Campbell. Toward the end of his life he seemed to grasp things, make connections -- and then was granted the greatest gift, the ability to show the rest of us what he could see. Conveying wisdom without the pain of experience (though wisdom always brings a sting nonetheless) is a skill that only a few seem to be capable of.

When I began to seize control of my life, with no small thanks to bunnybutt, by quitting a dead-end job at SuperMac and starting a contract gig at Apple that would change my life, I came home to a series of video segments of Doctor Campbell as he lectured students on a variety of topics. I've mentioned it here before -- the legend of Tristan, and how he came to find the grail despite failing the test of the crippled king. The summary fails to capture the strentght of his words, but there was something resounding about the outcome of the legend.

Sir Tristan travels the world trying to find the castle of the king he failed to assist when he struggles into the room. At the root of the story is the idea that the fair tale rules apply: You only get one chance to obtain your heart's desire, one shot of your deepest dreams. Brigadoon appears once every 100 years, so if you miss that boat, you've missed it.

But much as in the movie, Tristan is determined to change the rules... and he does. He finally finds the castle, helps the crippled king... and earns the grail.

The line that resonated with me was the French fable's "greek chorus", one old and decrepit hermit/monk, who appears when Tristan has acheived his dreams despite his earlier failure, declaring "Do you realize what you have done?! By the force of your own will you have changed God's law."

Campbell was using this version of the Grail myth to describe one of the fundamental shifts in the way we think as a species -- that part of "god's will" is OUR will, that it isn't a sin to fight the buffeting of the waves and winds of fate through personal fortitude and a desire to reach a goal. That Brigadoon will re-appear for us if we simply have the will to bring it alive.

By the force of my will....
Tags: personal
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