DiscoverTED Radio HourThe Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey

Update: 2017-01-062
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From the Odyssey, to Robinson Crusoe, to Star Wars — why are we drawn to stories about heroes? And what do they tell us about ourselves? This hour, TED speakers explore what makes a hero's journey. (Original broadcast date: December 18, 2015).

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support for this podcast in the following message come from rocket mortgage by Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rocket mortgage and get a secure work transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank skip the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash ideas eight It's guy here first of all Happy New Year from all of us at the Ted Radio Hour we have some incredible new episodes coming up this year but in the meantime take a listen to this one for Marquise it's all about the hero's journey and why we're drawn to stories about heroes from Odysseus to Robinson Crusoe to Luke Skywalker this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking had talked and the Technology Entertainment Design Design at Stanford never delivered and had conferences around the world gift of the human imagination we had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio the NPR guy rise the So I'm sure today like the rest of the galaxy to talk a little bit about Star Wars but don't worry you don't have to know that since Lords Panthers or land of cows seem to understand what is coming up because today show isn't actually about the films spread about the journey that inspired them somewhere in species this may all be happening right now the case of back in nineteen seventy seven when the first Star Wars film came out an adventure unlike anything on your plan and no one star had seen anything like it it's an epic of euros the one person the story actually seemed pretty familiar there is a certain typical sequence of actions which can be detected and stars from all over the world and from many many periods of history this is just of camp he was a pathologist and writer and to him star Wars was not a new story was just another story was a story that followed in a very striking way when you start to think about it kind of blueprint and coated in human stories and myths for thousands of years in Joseph Campbell was the first to define this blueprint which he called the hero's journey to you when you look at something like Star Wars recognize some of the themes of the hero for all mythology well I think that George Lucas was use a standard with optional features the Joseph Campbell died in nineteen eighty seven this audio is from a TV documentary with journalist Bill Moyers a few years before that in Campbell's hero's Journey was no small idea according to Campbell followed reacts and seventeen distinct sub stages and it's a formula that can be found in everything from Moby Dick to the Wizard of Oz from the Matrix to Homer's Odyssey and yes even Star Wars so here it is Campbell's basic three act formula one departure to initiation and three return basically our hero leaves home on a journey or quest goes through a kind of crucible and then returns home notorious in Gow lot of stories do that but what's really crazy is how Star Wars follows Even the very granular sub stages of Campbell's model so here are the first four starts with our hero living it kind of normal boring life just doesn't care how big his right and never getting it out then the first stage call to adventure on the which alters the hero's destiny help me Obi Wan the bed then leads to stage two I can get involved refusal to work to do of the call is not that I like the entire hated but there's nothing I can do about it right now but eventually this gives way to stage three the fall is like to say the supernatural aid has the vagina night as clumsy or random is a plus which is followed by stage for crossing the threshold or are now leaving home was the four to become a chat on the peak at the point right you really can look up all seventeen stages of Joseph Campbell's hero's Journey and you can find them plotted out in Star Wars all the way through the movie's final climactic scene the two which aligns with your attorney stage thirteen magic light the Campbell was asked about this weather star Wars followed his formula departure initiation and return or her fate that does the cycle perfectly and OK if Star Wars follows The hero's Journey pattern laid out by Joseph Campbell The next question is why my last mentor probably was Joe Campbell Campbell who asked a lot of the interesting questions and expose me to lot of things that may be very interested in lot more the cosmic questions and mystery an advantage to those on my life that I could and focused at the way at once I got to be good friends with Joe this is Star Wars creator George Lucas longtime friend of Joseph Campbell and he has said in interviews that yes Star Wars is his version of the hero's journey but I did Star Wars I consciously set about to re create myths and they and the classic mythological motifs and George Lucas did this because something about the pattern of events Campbell identified leaving one condition seems to resonate finding the source of life to bring you forth from this really visceral way and resurrection with the human experience and that is the basic motif of the hero's journey the Joseph Campbell The hero's Journey was in a pattern that it simply happened to crop up in so many of our most popular stories in fact it was the entire the stories became popular in the first place because the journey of striking out from home and overcoming challenges and searching for your true calling that's something we all can search for some point it's a journey of listening to yourself figuring out what you really want in life and then going out and finding the person doesn't listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program you're gonna have a sister from a cracked of the person has put himself off center is himself with the program attic life and it's not the one the bodies and arrested him at all the the stops along his journey had speakers use set out from home and found mentors were tested to emerge from the crucible and ultimately learned more about themselves than they ever knew before perhaps the hero works in each one of us when we don't know it well yes I mean see folks our character and out more about yourself that you go on like the classical euros we're not going on our journey to save the world to save ourselves and in doing that you saved the world so our hero's journey begins with the departure and Ellen MacArthur where are you right now by the way even when it's a small island off the south coast of the UK the average ever we know we can rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight it's not too dear of course the Every summer we can make the the ego elimination mention at this point is a sailor she keeps a boat docked at the Isle of Wight oh and she's also a Dame I am in fact a Dame yes that was an epic sailing trip that got her that classy title but will get to that in of that which you need to know for now is the sailing part it all goes back to when Ellen was just four years old and the boat sized robots on everything at school my school books everything just by drawing a one bedroom walls with bits of paper I just wanted to be nearer than the water as a kid you have boundaries especially in Ephesus House the House of God and that is the village and then its this summer local towns and suddenly his this boat that can take you in the world enough for me that was just so so exciting the felon this was the beginning of her hero's Journey her call to adventure and that epic sailing trip here's how she started the story on the Ted stage when your child anything and everything is possible to China so often is hanging on to that as we go up and is a four year old I had the opportunity to sail for the first time I will never forget the feeling of adventure as I climbed on board the boat and said it had tiny cabin for the first time I will never forget the excitement as we close the coast but the most amazing feeling was the freezing freedom the feeling that I felt when he hoisted the sails as a four year old child it was the greatest sense of freedom that I could ever imagine on my mind up there and then that one day somehow I was going to sail around the world so I did what I could in my life to get closer to that dream age ten it was saving my school did money change every single day for eight years I have much that I to invite beans costs for peach and gravy was free everyday I would pile up the chains on the money box when that pile reached a pound I would drop it in and cross off one hundred squares onto another piece of paper the the Finally I bought a tiny dainty I spend hours sitting on it in the garden dreaming of my go the the the sitting in a dinghy in her yard was a long way from sailing around the world so as soon as she finished school Allen left home and enrolled in the ceiling school was that was that I was suddenly surrounded by people he knew everything about the water and seafood fan alive the world on it too incredibly inspirational he could help to teach me all those things that I hadn't previously known so I was constantly asking questions and trying to dig deeper in understanding how to do things how does working with the lights mean I was always was asking questions off and then it was was that was that I decided that I would try and sail solo around Great Britain you so when Ellen turned eighteen she set up to do it the way for the hot months taking about was twenty one feet right around the country where he can sleep on the bike because of the ships in the rocks and the weather being made worse by the shallow waters in the wind against the Tide Point the mix of dangers and challenges and really the end of that I realized I could settle my own I was comfortable with that the so comfortable but Ellen kept coming back to that dream she had when she was four to sail around the world so imagine how it felt just four years later to be sitting in a boardroom in front of someone who I knew could make that dream come true I fell of my life depended on that moment an incredibly he said yes and I could barely contain my excitement as I sat in the first design meeting designing a boat on which I was going to sail solo nonstop around the world Ellen had managed to get a sponsor to fund her spot in a giant around the world race called the Sunday Globe didn't win it she did finish in for a moment there it seemed like she had answered her call to adventure it was everything I'd ever imagined just like in my dreams they were amazing parts and tough parts we miss the nights that by twenty feet nine times like limes the top of a ninety foot mast will blown on the side in the southern ocean but the sunsets the wildlife and the remote ness was absolutely breathtaking after three months of CA just twenty four I finished in second position I'd loved it so much so that within six months I decided to go around the world again this time to try to be the fastest person ever to sail solo nonstop around the world would the the weeks you come in second and you're like me to go back out there the thing that you need to finish around the world in the one thing they want to do is to get the boat and got a nice male and have some subtle something that you have a tough week for an off month for me I was actually more comfortable on the budget happier on the boat the hardest thing I found at the end of that right for the sea getting off the boat later in the show the story of how Ellen MacArthur was tested on a second even more grueling trip that's coming up the first mentors facing the crucible redemption and more stops along the hero's Journey and Guy rise and you're listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR o Hey Everyone Just a quick thanks to one of our sponsors who helps make this podcast possible blue apron labor and partners with sustainable farms fisheries and ranchers to bring you all the ingredients you need to create incredible home cooked meals ingredients compared with easy to follow a recipe card delivered to your door weekly in a refrigerated box we discovered how fun cooking can be while enjoying specialty ingredients exploring new flavors and cuisines get your first three blue apron meals for free plus free shipping visiting Blue apron dot com slash Radio Hour it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR guy rise and on the show today the hero's journey we're hearing from Ted speakers who stories echo a pattern of events identified by Joseph Campbell and found in so many other stories from The Odyssey to Lord Of The Rings and one thing common in so many hero's journeys is a mentor like Yoda I'm not looking for a friend looking for a dive master I mashed you see don't you love the I think the word mentor I think about somebody who has traveled a little further down the road in life and a good mentor doesn't just give you the answers that you need but gives you the tools that you require to answer those questions for yourself this is characters' ask if he's an author and illustrator of kids books the graphic novel series that are most known for is about a lunch lady who fight crime carrots also written books about campus police squad a purple elephant named Ali and bubble Bath Pirates in his first children's book was published it was just a success for charity but for all the mentors C had a long way my friend described my first book signing is awake but happy because there was this huge long line of everybody I ever knew in my life all there to celebrate the publication of the first book and my first grade teacher Mrs. Alice she stormed in and she cut in front of the line she gave me this huge kiss and she turned to the crowd and she put one finger in the air and she said I taught him how to read everybody gave her this huge round of applause it was just as beautiful moments chair it was really lucky to have teachers like that because his life could have gone in a totally different direction as he explained on the Ted stage when I was a kid I loved to draw and the most talented artist I knew was my mother my mother was addicted to heroin and when your parent is a drug addict kind of like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football as much as you want a love that person as much as you want to receive love from the person everytime you open your heart you and your back so through my childhood my mother was incarcerated and I didn't have my father because I didn't even learn his first name until the sixth grade but I had my grandparents who adopted me just be for my third birthday my grandfather was a self made man he ran worked in a factory my grandmother was a homemaker but here's this kid who loves Transformers and Snoopy and the Ninja turtles and the characters that I read about I fell in love with and he became my friends my best friends in life for the characters I write about books when I was in the third grade monumental event happen author visited our school Jack and tossed a published author of books came to talk to us about what he did for living and afterwards we all went back to our classrooms and we drew our own renditions of his main character rotten Ralph Sibley author appeared in our doorway members of Sun tearing down the aisles from Kid to Kid looking at the desk not saying a word we stopped next to me and ask me at my desk a nice care The The The and he just said those two simple words nice cat and made a huge difference for me filled me up with confidence it validated what I was doing I mean this is a professional members like that moment happened when you are really little and you remember that moment it simple so profound it was eight years old and it's the amazing thing is that you just never know what words that you give children will resonate and it could be something just as offhand as nice cat I'm the one that was a six frame the public funding all but eliminated the arts budgets and Worcester public school system my grandfather he was a wise man inside as a problem because he knew that was like the one thing I had him play sports I had our so he walked into my room one evening the south edge of my bed he said Jerry it's up to you but if you'd like to would like to send you the classes at the with her arms am so thrilled so from six to twelve grade once twice sometimes three times a week we take classes at the Art Museum and I was surrounded by other kids who love to draw other kids who share similar passion in him the chair really loved being in those art classes but the rest of the time he was in his regular high school where it was harder to make friends said to make his classmates laugh he would try these funny pictures of his teachers well in English class in eighth grade my friend John who is sitting next to me laughed a little bit too hard Mr. Greenwood was not please the uh he instantly saw that I was like the cause of the commotion and for the first time in my life I was sent to the hall I don't know I'm doomed he came out to the Howie said Let me see the paper and so I took this picture handed to me said to me two really talented the are really good you know the school newspaper needs a new cartoonist and you should be the carton to stop John in my class the I was introduced to Mrs. Casey her in the school newspaper and I was a first for three and a half years the cartoonist for my school paper The Mrs. Casey was never my classroom teacher but she said I got hooked from the feedback and the energy that came in to having something in print that really fed my desire to someday get published I mean when you think about having come from where you came from and like having the decks are stacked against you could you have made it without those mentors along that path there's no way there's no way I'd be doing what I am doing today if it weren't for those mentors I mean they validated what I love to do and what I love to do with such an odd and unique thing these mentors two were not only celebrating who I was as an individual but giving me the tools I needed to celebrate who I was as an individual as well graduated from Racine my grandparents were very proud and I moved to Boston and I set up shop set up a studio and I tried to get published I would send out my books I would send out hundreds of postcards to editors art directors that they would go unanswered now I still work the weekends at the home the wall off season programming to make some extra money is us trying to get my feet off the ground and I this kid who is this really hyper kid I started calling him Monkey Boy and I went home and I wrote a book called Good Night Monkey Boy and I sent out one last batch of postcards and I received an email with the subject line nice work exclamation point to Jared I received a postcard I like your art please let me know if you're ever in New York City and this was from an editor at Random House Children's Books and the next week I happened to be in New York uh uh and I met with his editor and I left New York for a contract for my first book in my monkey boy which was published on June twelve two thousand and one story it's clear that the idea being mentors can be a fleeting moment like he can be that book author who says nice cat or the teacher catches you dry in class and says You're really good you should be cartoonist like it doesn't have to be kind of a lifelong relationship teaches be a moment but that moment can be incredibly important yeah you know Jack did not say nice cat thinking Watch this I'm going to change this kid's life and now when I visit schools I do I think about that and you know sometimes a stallion soon will come over to show me some artwork or I revel in getting to say nice lunch lady to the skids you know Luke Skywalker spent all of that time with Yoda but baby there was somebody in passing that says something to look at tween when he was much younger that also sent him in that direction that this find out that persons who said nice cat to Luke Skywalker I want to know there's the the characters' us guy he's the author of many children's books you should check them out the crate he also watches full tock had come i so we've been spending a lot of time this episode in a particular galaxy far far away the one who is talking about so maybe it's a different one this is the the accelerated to warp once or the uh that's Star Trek with Mr Siew loo played by George to K has heard their church to Kate has also become pretty well known for his outspoken support of LGBT rights and a master of viral posts and means the lake and every hero's Journey comes a series of tests these phases where our hero faces The crucible is a Japanese word which means fortitude to endure with dignity and long before George to K's success he endured a crucible of his own still to this day there be there I considered well and four who are shocked and aghast when I tell him about my childhood imprisonment charge to K was one of the hundred and ten thousand Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps shortly after the US got involved in World War to his family spent the war behind razor wire under twenty four hour armed guard and George Mackay told the story on the Ted stage I was four years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed and overnight America suddenly was swept up by history and his two year grew and grew until the president of the United States ordered all Japanese Americans on the west coast of America to be summarily rounded up with no charges with no trial with no due process on April twentieth I celebrated my fifth birthday and just a few weeks after my birthday my brother and I were in the living room and we saw two soldiers marching up our driveway they stomped up the front porch and banged on the door my father answered it and the soldiers ordered is out of our whole and we walked out and stood on the driveway waiting for our mother to come out she had our baby sister in law and are a huge duffel bag in the other had tears streaming down both cheeks I will never be able to forget that see it is burned into my number the number I mean us so yeah I mean what age are like which can save you order the saying you were going well we were first taken to Santa Anita racetrack that was the Assembly Center and then we were put on a train and taken to Arkansas and preparation for that my fathers said we were going on a long vacation and so I was excited by that sounded exotic we're going on a vacation to Arkansas what do you remember about day to day life mean did you did you play with other kids was a day survey terrifying place as an innocent child that was normality for me everybody around us live the same way we lined up three times a day to eat lousy food in that noisy mess hall when I made the night runs to the tree search lights follow us but for me I thought it was kind of nice that they lit the way for me to pee and I have memories of going school in the black tar paper barracks where we started the school day everyday with the pledge of allegiance to the flag the looking out the window I could see the barbed wire fence and the sentry tower right there as I recited the words with liberty and justice for all after four years inside those camps for the K's were released at the end of the war and the family made its way back to Los Angeles and the hostility was intense it was palpable people didn't want to rent to Japanese Americans so all we had was this shed the hotel room in skid Row stench of urine always people while people you know caring on staggering about we'd never experience something like that and my youngest sister was almost five she was an infant when we went into camps one occasion where we were walking down the sidewalk and this drunken man came staggering toward us and we all froze up and then he collapsed and he barfed right in front of us and my sister shrieked Mommy let's go back home the home behind barbed wires because coming out was so horrid the the er my parents were time to get back on their feet we've lost everything they worked their fingers to the bowl and ultimately they were able to get the capital together to buy a three bedroom home in a nice neighborhood and I was a teenager and I'd dread civics books that told me about the ideals of American democracy and I couldn't quite make that fit with what I need to be my childhood in prison and so I engaged my father after dinner in law all sometimes heated conversations and what I got from that was my father's was
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The Hero's Journey

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