Tag Archives: Joseph Campbell

Not All Who Wander Are Lost: A (Short) 1,001 Movies Update

Previously, on the 1,001 movies project, I decided that maybe I was pushing myself a little too hard, and that I should slow down on my frantic film-watching pace. This decision, for better or worse, meshed with an extremely busy month in my life, in which I bought and moved into my first home. As a result, I haven’t watched a whole lot of movies since my last project-related blog post. And while part of me hangs its head in shame for not making more progress toward my goal, a larger part of me is having so much fun picking out carpet and curtains that it’s completely forgotten to feel guilty.

Enter Frodo Baggins.  Literally and metaphorically.

When my own personal Scooby Gang learned that I had never watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, despite being a lifelong fan of the books, they took matters into their own hands. Graciously opening up their home to a posse of wise-cracking MST3K wannabes, my dear friends planned a series of get-togethers so that I could at least cross three movies off my list during an extremely busy time in my life. And if you stop and think about it, that’s an awful lot like Sam stepping up to the plate and helping Frodo when he started to droop under his extremely heavy burden.

Okay, okay, perhaps I exaggerate. But struggling to achieve this goal, and having my pals come to my rescue, has me thinking about Tolkien, his good friend Mr. Lewis, Joseph Campbell, and the wealth of fairy and folk tales passed down through the ages.  A common thread they share is that of the hero/ine who passes through a period of despair before s/he triumphs.  Said hero/ine is frequently aided by a friend, human or animal, who provides some sort of aid and comfort to the hero/ine so that s/he has the strength to go on.  I like that, after thousands of years, we are all still living , reading, and watching the same kind of story.  Our obstacles may be spreadsheets, deadlines and overly busy schedules instead of witches and dragons, but the song remains the same, no?

So, after tonight’s planned shenanigans, we’ll be able to log this leg of the movie-watching journey as follows:

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

for a total of 232 movies.

Any encouraging words you have at this point are welcome, constant readers. Now that we’ve exhausted the Peter Jackson trilogy, I fear I may need some verbal dynamite to bust out of my rut and get back on track…

–Leigh Anne

who gets by with a little help from her friends

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Myth, Understood

Every day I talk to people who are looking for facts and answers.  Libraries have lots of resources and services for factual questions, and I love showing people how to use them!

It’s only fair to point out, though, that libraries also house questions:  the big ones, about life, the universe, and everything.  And while librarians can’t tell you who to vote for, what deity to worship, or how to handle your in-laws, we can give you lots of information about such topics so you can make the best decisions for yourself.

If that sounds somewhat less than reassuring, take comfort in the fact that human beings have been trying to make sense of shenanigans on our crazy little blue planet for thousands of years. Religion, science and philosophy are three useful theoretical frameworks for this kind of exploration, but I’ve always been kind of partial to mythology as a way of searching for meaning. By examining the legends and archetypes of bygone days, you can learn a lot about storytelling, problem-solving, and meaning-making, three human functions that aren’t going away anytime soon.  

Here are just a few of the many books on mythology that you can borrow from the Carnegie Library:

A lot of people, myself included, first get hooked on mythology via the classic texts by Hamilton, Bulfinch, Campbell, or Frazer, and you can’t go wrong starting with any one of them.  If you can’t get to the library right away, you might want to look at The Encyclopedia Mythica, a great internet resource that’s organized by geographic region; it also contains a section on Arthurian legends and an image gallery, among other research goodies.  Once you find something interesting there, you can do a catalog search to see what, if any, materials the library has on your myth/legend/hero(ine)/archetype of choice.

By now it should be obvious that when you say “myth,” the Carnegie Library says “Yes!” Mythology can be pretty heady stuff, though, so if you start to get overwhelmed, you might want to kick back and ponder The Meaning of Life instead.

Happy questing,

–Leigh Anne

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