And if that was where the expert left his observations, we as readers would be greatly missing out. Wouldn't we be more interested to know about how those bricks were used rather than simply that the bricks were there? Wouldn't we want to understand how the bricks differed in each region, and, ultimately, how and why the architecture itself was different?
For anyone who is looking for them, the bricks that make up world mythologies are readily apparent. Mythic themes, such as the elements of the hero's journey, the virgin birth, or the resurrected god, are common throughout all parts of the world.
Knowing how to spot the bricks is incredibly helpful when reading myth. It can allow for moments of recognition, a sort of "aha! I know where this is going!" feeling. Seeing the bricks can allow us to have a better understanding of the ideas presented in religions and myths that appear very different from our own because we can start to recognize the similarities, the common threads.
Still, as Campbell makes clear in his essay, it is ultimately of vital importance that we don't miss the architecture for the bricks, so to speak. We must always remember that although common elements may be present, it is essential to consider them in relation to the society where they formed and the entire mythology they are a part of. We have to think about the philosophy of that society, their historical realities, their environment, whether they were hunters or farmers, etc etc. The bricks must be put into context.
When comparing different mythologies, it can be tempting to just look for the bricks, assuming that the architecture will automatically be the same. Doing so creates a huge disservice to the mythologies being studied, and creates the potential for incredibly damaging comparisons and misunderstandings.
It's a temptation I face myself, often, when reading mythological narratives. And, thanks to this timely reminder, something I'll be keeping an eye out for in my future readings.