Refusal of the Call

Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered; for it is always possible to turn the ear to other interests.

Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative.

Walled in boredom, hard work, or “culture,” the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.

His flowering world becomes a wasteland of dry stones and his life feels meaningless—even though, like King Minos, he may through titanic effort succeed in building an empire of renown.

Whatever house he builds, it will be a house of death: a labyrinth of cyclopean walls to hide from him his Minotaur.

All he can do is create new problems for himself and await the gradual approach of his disintegration.

“Because I have called, and ye refused . . . I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.”

“For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.”

Time Jesum transeuntem et non revertentem: “Dread the passage of Jesus, for he does not return.”

The myths and folk tales of the whole world make clear that the refusal is essentially a refusal to give up what one takes to be one’s own interest.

The future is regarded not in terms of an unremitting series of deaths and births, but as though one’s present system of ideals, virtues, goals, and advantages were to
be fixed and made secure. King Minos retained the divine bull, when the sacrifice would have signified submission to the will of the god of his society; for he preferred what he conceived to be his economic advantage.

Thus he failed to advance into the life role that he had assumed—and we have seen with what calamitous effect.

The divinity itself became his terror; for, obviously, if one is oneself one’s god, then God himself, the will of God, the power that would destroy one’s egocentric system, becomes a monster. ~Joseph Campbell, Hro with a Thousand Faces, Pages 60