THE POWER OF MYTH is one of my favorite programs. In this six-part series of interviews with Bill Moyer, Joseph Campbell comes across as an incredibly gentle and insightful man with an extraordinary way of demonstrating how the different cultures of the world have much in common. He notes that many themes and myths can be found in varying forms throughout the world and throughout time. (I think it is important to know that by "myth" Joseph Campbell means "sacred teaching," not "untrue belief or superstition." Myths themselves may not be true, but they demonstrate principles that are true.)
The aspect of THE POWER OF MYTH that has had the most profound impact on me is the discussion on women and nature. Bill Moyers comments that in many myths it is woman who is blamed for the difficulties in life. Campbell explains that this is because woman represents life, and life, in the Judaic and Christian view, is something that is wrong ... unless one has been baptized or circumcised. Campbell elaborates to say that the Judaic and Christian view is based on the insights into the duality of life - "good and bad," "right and wrong," "life and death," "sin and atonement" - and that when you have a culture based on insights into duality, you get a mythology that tends to be ethical. "The whole thing started with a sin," Campbell says to Moyers, referring to Eve's mistake in the Garden of Eden. Man, of course, does not enter this world of dualities, with all its potential for pain, but by woman, hence the blame often heaped on womankind.
Campbell seems to indicate that in the Western worldview life is seen as a battle against nature (with which woman is inevitably linked), and that, surprisingly, Eastern cultures do not generally hold this view. Or at least they do not believe this as strongly as we do in the West. In the East, nature is not generally seen as something that must be fought against.
I love THE POWER OF MYTH, and I love Joseph Campbell!