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Index card 010 - Books about books
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

As a kid, I used to open the toaster or the alarm clock to understand how they worked. I was curious about the "magic" that needed to happen inside for something to do what is supposed to. As a storyteller, I am also curious about the books I read. I like dissecting them, separating their parts, and figuring out the magic. In my search, I have found some fantastic books like Vladimir Propp's Story Morphology or Gaston Bachelard's different books on Poetics. But there's a book that goes deeper behind structure and theory and shows us how our DNA is part of the stories we read. From the Iliad to Star Wars, from Aztec god Quetzalcoatl to Nordic god Odin, all stories follow the same path: the hero's journey.

Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a detailed approximation of the hero's journey. It examines different myths, religions, and stories and contrasts them. In the end, Campbell discovers that every story told is identical and follows a straightforward structure of seventeen stages.

Even though the idea behind the monomyth is elementary, The Hero with a Thousand Faces demands a lot from its readers. The first time I started it, I left it unfinished. After a couple of months, I went back and finished it: it instantly became one of the essential reference books for my artistic practice. Today, my copy is filled with side notes, folded pages, and coffee stains. Almost every week, I go to it in search of a reference or a clear explanation of a specific part of the hero's journey. I use the monomyth to design my work as a storyteller, and it has become a common question in my book clubs (can you identify the hero's journey?).

I recommend this book to writers, artists, or literary scholars. And promise that the reward after finishing it is more significant than expected.

︎︎ Read The Hero with a Thousand Faces

A book can also exist as an autonomous and self-sufficient form, including perhaps a text that emphasizes that form, a text that is an organic part of that form: here begins the new art of making books. (Ulises Carrion)

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