In Alumni Resources, News & Announcements

What can OPUS Archives do for you? It’s a fair question. From our perspective, we provide a wide range of primary source material for your research: published and unpublished manuscripts, lecture notes, audio recordings, correspondence, field notes, photographs, even personal artifacts. All from some of the leading figures in the field of depth psychology including Joseph Campbell, Marija Gimbutas, Jane Hollister Wheelwright, Joseph Wheelwright, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, Christine Downing, Katie Sanford and Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig.

You might begin knowing what you want to research. Or, you might seek inspiration. Today, I went down into the archives seeking inspiration for this article and found this lovely item in the Joseph Campbell holdings:

Forgive the cliché, but to me it’s emblematic of the fact that research should be “whatever floats your boat.” Now that sounds flippant, but I certainly don’t mean it that way. By float, I mean buoys your spirit, excites you, makes you more curious! The lovely craft is made of coiled newsprint – words – the means by which we communicate and share ideas. The sail, the power for the vessel, is an advert for the Your Own Mythbody to Live By series by Campbell and Chungliang Al Huang. That’s how we fuel scholarship, by sharing our findings. In turn, the communication of our ideas is mean to light a new spark in others – and so scholarship continues. Finally, the flag at the top of the mast proudly proclaims a subject heading from Campbell’s research.

There was no indication in the archives of who had made the item. Additionally, to use a reproduction of it in this article, I had to secure permission from the Joseph Campbell Foundation. So, I contacted Robert Walter, Executive Director of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and Campbell’s literary executor, and asked him for any information he had about the item and for permission to use a photograph of it.

Mr. Walter promptly responded and explained that the object was a souvenir that had been made for Campbell. It’s constructed from Esalen Institute copy advertising an annual (in this case the 1984) workshop offered by Campbell and Chungliang “Al” Huang. The workshops were started in 1978 and corresponded with the week in which Campbell celebrated his 26 March birthday. Campbell and Huang continued offering the workshops until Campbell’s death in 1987. Since then, Mr. Walter has facilitated the annual workshop; presently under the title “Mythological Toolbox.”

But here’s where I need to admit to an error on my part. You see, I had just assumed that the item was a boat. But Mr. Walter disagreed saying, “I believe, both from reading the copy from the workshop itself and from a recollection of Joe’s remarks when he showed this little memento, that the cylinder was meant to suggest both a flute and sword—specifically the sword brought up from the bottom of the lake in Arthurian lore.” Thankfully, I did more research before I presented what turned out to be a “leaky” metaphor (sailed ignorantly off into the sunset?)…But now the item is even richer in its associations and I’m eager to follow this new thematic wind shift, so back to the archives I’ll go.

As of this writing, we’re in a particularly exciting place in terms of developing greater ease of access to the archives. We now have a full-time Archivist, Jennifer Maxon, MLIS, who is aided by Archives Assistant, Robert Moeller, MLIS, and Scanning Technician, Gabrielle Milanich. Together, the three of them are working in our newly-opened, state-of-the-art Legacy Digital Lab. Their goal is to scan and digitalize our holdings, many of which are to be available online.

The scanning and entering of the appropriate metadata for each archival item is, as you can imagine, a significant undertaking. We are looking for volunteers to assist us in this process. As PGI alumni, you are particularly well suited to assist us in this endeavor as you know the subject matter and terminology relative to many of the archival documents.

Would you consider committing to volunteering in the archives regularly for a period of time? We are looking for alumni who are able to assist on a weekly basis; day or days and hours to be agreed upon. Imagine being able to handle original source material! What better way to become acquainted with the collections and their myriad research possibilities! If you allow your boat time to float in the archival waters, you just might find, as James Hillman so eloquently stated, “The calling may have been more like gentle pushings in the stream in which you drifted unknowingly to a particular spot on the bank. Looking back, you sense that fate had a hand in it.”

I, for one, can vouch to having such an experience.

Barbara Vilander, MA, PhD
OPUS Administrator

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