Phil Cousineau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Phil Cousineau
Born (1952-11-26) November 26, 1952 (age 69)
Alma materUniversity of Detroit
  • Writer
  • lecturer
  • scholar
  • screenwriter
  • filmmaker
Spouse(s)Jo Beaton

Philip Robert Cousineau (born 26 November 1952 in Columbia, South Carolina) is an American author, lecturer, independent scholar, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker.


Phil Cousineau was born in an army hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. He has worked as a sportswriter and taught screenwriting at the American Film Institute (AFI). American mythologist Joseph Campbell was a mentor and major influence; Cousineau wrote the documentary film and companion book about Campbell's life, The Hero's Journey. The author of more than 25 nonfiction books, Cousineau has more than 15 documentary screenwriting credits to his name, including the 1991 Academy Award-nominated Forever Activists.

Seminal works include, Soul: An Archaeology, Readings from Socrates to Ray Charles, which Los Angeles Times columnist Jonathan Kirsch reviewed as "Inspiring, often mind-blowing, sometimes even a little scary," [1] and the best-selling book, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide the Making Travel Sacred, described in the Austin American-Statesman as "If Joseph Campbell, the Dalai Lama and Bill Moyers were to have collaborated on a book about journeys...I suspect it would look very much like The Art of Pilgrimage." Cousineau worked with religion scholar Huston Smith on three books as well as four documentary films on contemporary Native American issues. His books have been translated into nine languages. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Phil Cousineau has long been a powerful presence in the [San Francisco] Bay Area literary scene, but he is best known as a filmmaker and...writer who has carried on and reinterpreted the work of Joseph Campbell, especially regarding the omnipresent influence of myth in modern life."[2]

Cousineau grew up just outside Detroit, once known as "the Paris of the Midwest,” with French Canadian roots. While moonlighting in a steel factory he studied journalism at the University of Detroit. Before turning to writing books and films full-time, Cousineau’s peripatetic career also included playing semi-professional basketball in Europe, harvesting date trees on an Israeli kibbutz, painting 44 Victorian houses (also known as Painted Ladies in San Francisco), teaching, and leading art and literary tours to Europe.

Current work[edit]

An expert on mythology and film and the monomyth "hero journey" structure of screenplays, Cousineau consults on scripts, books, and writing projects of all kinds. An inspiring speaker, he lectures frequently on themes of sacred travel, sports, mentorship, writing, and creativity to diverse audiences.[3]

Cousineau is currently the host and co-writer of the Link TV television series, Global Spirit, interviewing guests such as Robert Thurman, Karen Armstrong, Andrew Harvey, Deepak Chopra, and Joanne Shenandoah. “I try to put myself in the position of people I know who are curious about cultures,” said Cousineau in The New York Times, “and try to ask what they would ask if they were in my lucky shoes.” [4] Broadcast journalist Bill Moyers has commented that “The discussions on Link TV’s Global Spirit series are sorely needed in this dispirited and disenchanted world. In many ways it is more important than journalism today.” The first season of Global Spirit was presented by John Cleese and broadcast on PBS-TV stations nationwide in the United States in 2012 and 2013.[5][6]

A self-avowed night owl, Cousineau published Burning the Midnight Oil, a book of essays and poems about finding inspiration in the night, in 2013. He discussed his love of the night with Scott Simon on NPR along with forewordist and holy fool Jeff Dowd of The Big Lebowski fame on the winter solstice that year.[7]

Cousineau lives in North Beach, San Francisco, California and is currently writing a book about beauty and the Venus de Milo, as well as a young adult novel about baseball.

Famous quotes[edit]

On Art: "Art is the making of something the world’s never seen before in images or words. It is creation itself on a human level. It is as necessary as breathing because it is our greatest means for learning about and conveying to others what life means. Art is a meaning-making machine. Without it, we are stammer and grasp, like Eugene O’Neill’s fog people."[8]

On Words: "Who knows why some words ignite the hearts of some readers while others are like wet matches that won't light."

On Creativity: "Inspiration comes and goes, creativity is the result of practice." ~from Stoking the Creative Fires: 9 Ways to Rekindle Passion and Imagination

"The creative urge matters. Stories matter. Images matter. It matters that you were born with a genius, a guiding spirit, a daimon that may know more about your destiny than you do."

"But what if your fire is not burning well or, worse, has gone out? Without inner fire, you have no light, no heat, no desire... there's only one way out - and that's through the dark woods. You must change your life."

On Travel and Pilgrimage: "Now is the time to lead your ideal life." ~from The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred

"The practice of soulful travel is to discover the overlapping point between history and everyday life, the way to find the essence of every place, every day: in the markets, small chapels, out-of-the-way parks, craft shops. Curiosity about the extraordinary in the ordinary moves the heart of the traveler intent on seeing behind the veil of tourism."

"In each of us dwells a pilgrim. It is the part of us that longs to have direct contact with the sacred."

"The pilgrim is a poetic traveler, one who believes that there is poetry on the road, at the heart of everything."

"Are you alive now at home? Are you going to stay in your coffin of mediocrity, [or] break out of your cage, and take a journey to discover this in order to find yourself?"

"What every traveler confronts sooner or later is that the way we spend each day of our the way we spend our lives."

"Have you ever made a vow to go someplace that is sacred to you, your family, your group? Have you ever imagined yourself in a place that stirred your soul like the song of doves at dawn? If not you, then who? If not now, when? If not here, where?"

"Mapping out dozens of deeply focused trips around the world has convinced me that preparation no more spoils the chance for spontaneity and serendipity than discipline ruins the opportunity for genuine self-expression in sports, acting, or the tea ceremony."

"The force behind myths, fairytales, parables and soulful travel stories reveals the myriad ways the sacred breaks through the resistance and shines forth into our world. Pilgrimage holds out the promise of personal contact with that sacred force."

"The art of movement, the poetry of motion, the music of personal experience, of the sacred in those places it has been known to shine forth. If we are not astounded by these possibilities, we can never plumb the depths of our own souls or the soul of the world.”

"What is sacred is what is worthy of our reverence, what evokes awe and wonder in the human heart, and what, when contemplated, transforms us utterly."

"Uncover what you long for and you will discover who you are."

"Our task in life is to find our deep soul work and throw ourselves headlong into it."

On Synchronicity: "[Synchronicity is] an inexplicable but profoundly meaningful coincidence that stirs the soul and offers a glimpse of one's destiny."

On the Soul: "As the ancients said, the soul is realized in love."

On the Hero's Journey: "The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us; the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity, “always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find."

On Jim Morrison: "Morrison represents the power of a god that won't die. It's the story of a young god who dies, and yet lives on though his music." [9]

Select books[edit]

Select filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1994
  2. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, May 8, 2005
  3. ^ TedX, April 17, 2011
  4. ^ New York Times, April 10, 2009
  5. ^ KQED-TV
  6. ^ KQED-TV
  7. ^ NPR Books, December 21, 2013
  8. ^ San Francisco Weekly, August 14, 2014
  9. ^ The Free Lance-Star, July 6, 1996

External links[edit]