As Mr. Campbell suggests in introducing these eleven papers (first presented at the Society for the Arts, Religion and Contemporary Culture), "The import of the whole" is significantly "greater than the sum of its parts." The import of this whole lies in the internal dynamic that operates in the integration of sympathetic yet independent perspectives; their direction is expressed by Richard Underwood in the summary of the last 'part' — "...contemporary philosophy...needs to see myth and dream as signs that point the way to the possibility of knowing who we really are." To this end the ideas of Jung and Wallace Stevens are frequently quoted: by Ira Progoff, for example, writing on "Waking Dream and Living Myth"; by Stanley Romaine Hopper on "Myth, Dream and Imagination"; in Joseph Campbell's own essay "Mythological Themes in Creative Literature and Art." This last functions as fulcrum and focus for the others, intentionally, since the collection is structured to mirror an intellectual progression to which Campbell's compact (re)statement of his theses is idiomatically central. The tone varies redeemingly from the relaxed, good-natured blasphemy of Allan Watts who projects a reconstructive program in "Western Mythology: Its Dissolution and Transformation," to the Ovidian epigram in Norman O. Brown's "Daphne or Metamorphosis"; from the theological orientations of John F. Priest and Amos N. Wilder to the erudite analysis of Orestes Myth rand Dream as Catharsis" by David L. Miller. The "Philosophical Double Vision" of Owen Barfield and psychological platform of Rollo May round out the interdisciplinary esoterics — an adventure in epistemology.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1969

ISBN: 156731340X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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