… in Wolfram the guide is within — for each, unique; and I see in this the first completely intentional statement of the fundamental mythology of modern Western man, the first sheerly individualistic mythology in the history of the human race: a mythology of quest inwardly motivated — directed from within — where there is no authorized way or guru to be followed or obeyed, but where, for each, all ways already found, known and proven, are wrong ways, since they are not his own.
For each, in himself, is in his “intelligible character” an unprecedented species in himself, whose life-way and life-form (as of a newly sprung plant or animal sport) can be revealed and realized only by and through himself. Hence that sense of yearning and striving toward an unknown end, so characteristic of the Western living of life — so alien to the Oriental. What is unknown, yet deeply, infallibly intended, is one’s own peculiar teleology, not the one “straight path to Paradise.” The learned Anglo-Indian critic of our civilization, Dr. Ananda Kent Coomaraswamy — who had lived and worked in this country somewhat more than forty years, yet never got the idea nor any sense of the unique majesty of this Occidental style of spirituality — with disparaging intent coined a really telling characterization of the “Faustian soul,” when he wrote (using the pronoun “we” to connote not himself, a master of India’s “eternal” wisdom, but his Occidental colleagues at the Boston Museum and Harvard University) : “We who can call an art ‘significant,’ knowing not of what, are also proud to ‘progress,’ we know not whither.” And indeed we are — and had better be. For as Spengler has well said: “In Wolfram von Eschenbach, Cervantes, Shakespear, and Goethe, the tragic line of the individual life develops from within outward, dynamically, functionally.”
And so we return from the Vulgate monastic epic of Lancelot and Galahad, with its subsequent disintegration of the worldly court of King Arthur, to the earthly Divine Comedy of their nature-rooted predecessors: Gawain, the model lover, at bout the age of Leopold Bloom, and Parzival, the questing youth, like Stephen, willing to challenge even God if the mask that he shows — or is said to have shown — rings hollow when struck… .
#Joseph Campbell #Wolfram von Eschenbach