Joseph Campbell

I’m presently revisiting the excellent Bill Moyers’ PBS interviews with Joseph Campbell.

I typically rely on Campbell and Aristotle to discuss the importance of storytelling structure — and how in that structure, we reveal the universal appeal of story itself.  I just discovered this interesting interchange:

Campbell: What all the myths have to deal with is transformation of consciousness.  That you’re thinking in this way, and you ave now to think in that way.

Moyers: How is the consciousness transformed?

Campbell: By trials…or certain illuminating revelations.  Trials and revelations is what it’s all about.

If, through communication, we seek to inform, convince, or change someone’s mind, then can we not argue that we are hoping to transform the recipient’s consciousness?  And does Campbell not say that the best way to do so is through some form of inherent tension?

This passage jumps out to me as I’m also reading Made To Stick, which observes that when you can convince someone that they have a gap in their knowledge (the listener’s own trial?), this causes discomfort (tension?), and compels them to fill the gap.  This is what happens when you tell a story — the listener wants to stick it out until the end to find out what happens, to fill the gap.