Book Review: A 130 Page Joseph Campbell Book That Succinctly Ties Together Many Loose Strings

An Open Life

September 20, 2017

Allan Stevo
 

What it is:

In a series of interviews with radio personality Michael Toms, we get an important summary of the life discoveries and philosophies of 20th century scholar Joseph Campbell toward the end of his life in a succinct 130 pages.

A few interesting points:
 

1. Life’s Events Make Sense and It’s Important to Follow Your Bliss in the Process

While life’s events may seem so disconcerting in their lack of connectedness, the synchronicity of life eventually becomes so obvious as one looks back from an advanced age. While moving toward that point, it’s worthy of keeping in mind the following advice from Campbell who came of age during the Great Depression and saw several instances of family financial ruin: “If you follow your bliss, you’ll have your bliss, whether you have money or not. If you follow your money, you may lose the money, and then you don’t have even that.” Here’s Campbell explaining that at greater length.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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What Is The Essence Of Western Spirituality?

Western Spirituality

September 18, 2017

Allan Stevo

I came across an interview between Michael Toms and Joseph Campbell recently in the book (“An Open Life”) that had such powerful distillations of Campbell’s life philosophy and observations from a life spent studying world culture. In this excerpt, Campbell dismisses the idea of a westerner following a guru and points to a story from the series of legends known as the Quest for the Holy Grail. In one particular story, Campbell sees “the essence of what I’d call the European or Western spirituality.” I’d love to hear what you think of this in the comments section? Or perhaps you have a finding of your own that is more essential to Western spirituality.

Toms: “What about the desire to follow a guru? We see religions and cults based on the teacher-disciple relationship flourishing everywhere.”

Campbell: “I think that is bad news. I really do think you can take clues from teachers – I know you can. But, you see, the traditional Oriental idea is that the student should submit absolutely to the teacher. The guru actually assumes responsibility for the student’s moral life, and this is total giving. I don’t think that’s quite proper for a Western person. One of the big spiritual truths for the West is that each of us is a unique creature, and consequently has a unique path.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Lots Of Ego With Little Reading Tends To Make Intellectual Discussions Worthless -> 8 Hints To Escaping That Trap

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.—Mark Twain, 1895

Literacy v. Thought

September 14, 2017

Allan Stevo

Literacy is an important tool. Few people utilize literacy for anything of thoughtful value. Yes, of course there are the basics of life that literacy provides for, something that opens up doors. Most often though thinking people abuse their literacy by choosing the wrong books. They exclusively choose books that agree with them.

This is lovely if all one seeks to do is enforce a confirmation bias, which would be the opposite of critical thinking. If you do not read in-depth and seriously entertain contrary arguments to your views, you have little ability to add light to a discussion and your ability to think critically is far inferior to what it can be.

Avoiding that discomfort is an example of choosing the wrong way to use ones literacy. This is such a vitally important issue, yet it is so often overlooked. There are some good ways to turn that around and to avoid that trap of near thoughtlessly seeking to uphold a confirmation bias.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: Jens Schott Knudsen, blog.pamhule.com

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The United States Of America Is Not The Most Perfect Place In The World For Freedom

A sunrise over the Atlantic. Photo:Allan Stevo

A sunrise over the Atlantic.

Freedom

September 12, 2017

Allan Stevo

The most perfect place in the world for freedom is inside the mind of a free man. He radiates freedom and ensures that all around him will be free. He can accept no lower standard than that.

Freedom travels alongside the man who refuses to be anything but free. He will find freedom in the foothills of the Tatra mountains among shepherds who know no limit to their freedom just as well as he will in the back alleys of Macao as rough men burn their money on games of mahjong. The free man remains free:

While undergoing exit interviews in Tel Aviv, not entry interviews to enter the country, but exit interviews to be let out of the country on a plane;

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Is Discrimination Wrong ?

A clever holiday display from Veselka in New York's East Village. Photo: Allan Stevo

A clever holiday display from Veselka in New York’s East Village.


In Defense of the Customer

September 10, 2017

Allan Stevo

Last night I went to my favorite Slavic restaurant in the United States, where I have all of my favorite servers. For some reason I ended up with a Jamal serving me, some guy I never met before.

I don’t go to that restaurant for Moroccan tagine or Tex-mex fajitas or some generic American food like corned beef hash, I go there to feel more in touch with my Slavic roots and to eat some of the soul food of the Slavic kitchen.

I want that to be accomplished by a Vitali or a Piotr or a Jano, or at least some guy who’s trying. Though I recognize that there are Slavs named Jamal, and that Bosnia is Muslim and Slavic, the Middle Eastern Jamal doesn’t fit that restaurant or my needs when I walk into that door. He’d be great at some personality-less Denny’s or at a place that isn’t a cultural experience for me. He would also be great in a place where I want Muslim culture, especially Middle Eastern Muslim as opposed to Nigerian Muslim culture or Pakistani Muslim culture. But ultimately, for the reasons I step foot in that place, Jamal does not belong at a Slavic restaurant.

Is that wrong of me to say? Absolutely not. I know what I want and need and if I keep getting a Jamal I’ll just stop going to that restaurant. Discrimination is good. It is proper. It is the act of distinguishing between a greater experience and a lesser experience and stating an interest in moving toward the greater.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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How Did Lowlifes, Hippies, Con-Artists, Artists, Swingers, And Musicians Come To Be Referred To In English As ‘Bohemian’ ?

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So Bohemian

September 8, 2017

Allan Stevo

Watching the beautiful opera from Puccini La Bohème, one is reminded of the word for the western portion of the Czech Republic – Bohemia. One would be right in this association. However, it’s worth noting that this word is the French word for “Gypsy.” How would the French come to refer to Gypsies as “Bohemians” and how would this end up in English as a word for someone living an uncommon lifestyle?

The popular wisdom of Central Europe among the intelligentsia seems to indicate that Gypsies (aka Roma) merely travelled from the Eastern and Central parts of Europe into the West, when asked in the West where they came from, they simply said Bohemia, which may have been a place of birth, but also may have been the place they last set out from before arriving in France. This land was originally named Bohemia after a tribe that settled there.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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11 Things I Didn’t Expect In America


11 Things I Didn’t Expect In America

September 6, 2017

Allan Stevo

I love sitting with Slovaks who’ve just returned from the U.S. and hearing their observations about my homeland.  As long as I can avoid feeling offended about anything and can create an open atmosphere for an exchange of ideas, I often hear some fascinating observations about the United States.  Below I will share just a few of them.  Maybe in the comments section below, you can add a few of your own.

1. ) In American movies everyone is so beautiful, but no one in America actually looks the way they do in the movies. This perhaps says something about the low quality of the Slovak film industry – the people they cast look like regular people.  At the same time, it may say something about the high quality of the Slovak gene pool – the people on the street look like they could be in movies. In America, it’s normal to expect that an average person won’t spend four hours in a gym each day; he or she has other things to do.  A professional actor can, however.  I don’t think this is a criticism of American people, but more a realization that the American film industry is so effective at finding actors and actresses that fit its description of “talent” – looks, brains, ability, appeal, feel.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Slovak Public School Kids Go To Catholic Mass On This Day

First Day of School

September 4, 2017

Allan Stevo

As American kids celebrated Labor Day, Slovak kids went back to school.  Because there is a centralized system of education, some guy sitting in a government office in Bratislava says when every grade school and high school – both state schools and church schools – goes back to school.  This year that was on September 5.

In some communities in Slovakia, that also meant that hundreds of kids walked down the street that stretched from their public grade school’s doors to the local Roman Catholic Church, where they prayed for a good year ahead.

Separation of church and state isn’t all that significant an idea in Slovakia the way it is in the U.S.

In the U.S., the mere act of prayer in a public school is controversial.  “It can be enough to trigger a court case,” I pointed out to a table of Slovak adults earlier this week.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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