The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell

Posted: July 5, 2017, 10:56am

In one of the talks at the TED Radio Hour by Guy Raz, I came across one of the fundamental narrative frameworks that the Cinema industry exploits in their work: The Hero’s Journey.

Joseph Campbell, an American Mythologist came up with a pattern of how the typical adventure of an archetype, The Hero, takes place. He argued that there’s a commonality in the way different mythologies have shaped with time. The adventure or the journey that he so describes is now used generously in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. Inherently, every Hero’s Journey is divided into the following 3 stages: Separation, Initiation, and Return. These are further divided into more specific stages that happen universally in every story.

I gasped in wonder when I saw this. This is something so common, yet so not spoken about explicitly. Having obtained the knowledge of how every story is broken down, I observed the power of this pattern. Be it Star Wars, The Matrix, The Spiderman, or any other superhero and even non-superhero fiction, the very same pattern is employed and yet every time it is used, content creators are able to monetize it. That’s interesting as well as astonishing in that, the repetition does not tend to disengage people in any way.

As I thought more and more about this, I started applying this to every aspect of my own life. Every so called hurdle would become a threshold which I would want to cross with the help of some of the existing tools; just like the Light Saber that Obi Van Kanobi gives to Luke in Star Wars. I’d accept the call, go through my road of trials and face the abyss too. Then during the journey, I’d develop new skills to overcome that hurdle, enter a new world, and experience atonement. And then there, lies my reward.

I was deeply fascinated by the concept and suddenly all the different stories, events in history, mathematical theories: all started to show up this pattern. Having deliberated so much, more than finding it amusing, I started seeing the beauty in it. Every problem became an opportunity of going through this journey and experiencing the satisfaction of atonement. It really changed my perception about a lot of things and I started taking its advantage in both my personal and professional life. It also became the basis of Threshold 5, my current project in VR.

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