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Paperback The Inner Reaches of Outer Space : Metaphor As Myth and As Religion Book

ISBN: 0060963530

ISBN13: 9780060963538

The Inner Reaches of Outer Space : Metaphor As Myth and As Religion

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. In these pages, beloved mythologist Joseph Campbell explores the Space Age. He posits that the newly discovered laws of outer space are actually within us as well, and that a new mythology is implicit...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


As above, so below, as within, so without, as in ancient times, so now. Although Campbell's writing is sometimes convoluted, and/or grammatically wanting in some cases, the message, with sparse but extremely informative illustrations is a fascinating spiral of affinities between mysteries, between nations, between eons, ad infinitum. The message is not only read, but it is absorbed by osmosis. For anyone who desires to know more about Joseph Campbell's philosophy, read this book -- whatever is not totally understood will still not detract from the final outcome -- your "aha!" moments far outweigh the concentration necessary to complete this short but concentrated tome.

Waiting For A New Mythology

In THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE Joseph Campbell repeats some of the familiar observations of his earlier works in which he shows how certain mythic motifs can be found buried in all of the world's religious traditions. The similarities may not be easily recognized because the same motifs are usually understood and developed in different ways because of cultural differences. These repetitive motifs are called elementary ideas and in the local forms where they appear in various religions they are known as ethnic or folk ideas. As examples of elementary ideas Campbell offers the concepts of the Promised Land and the Virgin Birth. In writing about the similarities of symbols found in ancient civilizations, Campbell mentions discoveries among such diverse societies as those that existed in the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Ireland.Because of the great advances in learning which have become accelerated and dramatized by space exploration, Campbell points out that our old gods are either already dead or dying. The big question now is what new mythology will emerge from a modern understanding of a unified planet amidst a vast universe.The creation of any new mythology will certainly depend in part on the contributions of art because artists will be the ones who will produce the images of the future. Those images will come from our knowledge of a constantly changing and expanding universe. Campbell writes about the connection between art and mythology with conviction, no doubt due to the long-standing influence of his wife, Jean Erdman, a well-known dancer and choreographer.The most remarkable feature evident in THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE is the breadth and depth of the author's knowledge and understanding of mythology. Joseph Campbell led an enviable life driven by a singular passion and his writings are the best reflection of that life.

One giant intellectual leap for mankind.

"Mythology may, in a real sense, be defined as other people's religion," Joseph Campbell observes in his recently released book, THOU ART THAT (2001); "and religion may, in a sense, be understood as a popular misunderstanding of mythology" (p. 8). In this reissued collection of lectures delivered between 1981 to 1984 (originally published in 1986), Campbell travels through inner and outer space to explore that premise in greater depth. This 148-page book was the last book Campbell completed before his death in 1987, and as such, THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE may be read as the final frontier Campbell was exploring with his pioneering mind before his death.While our country was probing outer space, Campbell was travelling through the "wonderland of myth," and exploring the far-reaching relationship between mythology and comparative religion. He made some startling discoveries along the way. He writes, it "occurred to me that outer space is within inasmuch as the laws of outer space are within us; outer and inner space are the same" (p. 2). For Campbell, "the seat of the soul is there where the outer and inner worlds meet" (p. 5). "From the outer world," he writes, "the senses carry images to the mind, which do not become myth, however, until there transformed by fusion with accordant insights, awakened as imagination from the inner world of the body" (p. 5).In this book, Campbell draws from Space-Age discoveries to demonstrate how mythology allows us to realize and participate in the "transcendence, infinity, and abundance" (p. xx) of religion. Although it shuttles through some familiar Campbell territory, THOU ART THAT, THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, and THE POWER OF MYTH may offer a better introduction to his work. But for those readers interested in experiencing the relationship between mythology and religion in all its depth, this book should be considered one giant intellectual leap for mankind.G. Merritt

A must-read for any creative artist!

This book was--the back cover says--Campbell's last. I can imagine Campbell working on the manuscript between conversations with Bill Moyers: it feels like this book works out some of the open questions raised in The Power of Myth.What a brilliant book! By turns thought-provoking and breathtaking, I found myself rethinking many long-held ideas. And this for someone who has read and seen many Campbell works in the past.The last chapter, The Way of Art, really flattened me. Campbell writes thoughout his work of the mythic role of the artist, but here is the clearest statement of the artist's power and responsibility.


A brilliant restatement of Campbell's ideas regarding mythology, life, and the human psyche. Written with a sense of urgency in the face of our generally literal-minded, rationalistic, linear way of thinking (in the West), Campbell focuses on the metaphoric value of myth, science, anthropology, history, and so on. A must read for Campbell enthusiasts, and for anyone wishing to have a dimension of mystery in life.
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