A collection of essays based around the Jungian idea of a shadow self, the dark part of all of us.
There is this idea that as we work on ourselves, work to become blessed, enlightened, closer my God(dess) to Thee, we become better people. We correct ourselves to become pure beings of light.
This is obviously a one-sided, zero-sum idea. It is born from the idea that is Us vs. Them, Good vs. Evil, Light vs. Dark. Aristotelian dichotomy fed through Manicheism that somehow went from a proclaimed heresy to current Protestant orthodoxy.
This essays in the book discuss, from various points of view, the dark shadowy parts of our nature, from the deeply personal to our issues as a nation.
I’ve read this once so far, sitting serving on a Grand Jury during the government shutdown. I wasn’t that impressed at the time but the concept has kept with me. Sure, it is in part because we are watching America simultaneously confront and celebrate its Shadow self. Watching grown men punch teenagers in the face for asking that they wear a mask, racist vigilantes condoned on network television, children dying in cages, and large aspects of our democracy dismantled.
It will be a while before I can come back to this book objectively, if ever, through no fault of its own.
Burroughsian. I tend to use the term for two different currents of thought. Here we mean it for Edgar Rice, and not William S.
Lin Carter was a huge fan of Burroughsian heroic adventure. There are countless imitators of ERB. Lin Carter, at his best, can be judged against the master.
The premise is simple. Our crippled yet wealthy protagonist learns soul-casting or astral travel from Eckanar and an ancient Tibetan tome.
Let’s clear up the term Eckanar. This is a New-Age religion founded in 1965 by Paul Twitchell. The religion does teach that the Soul, or True Self, is able to separate from the body and travel across planes of existence in order to reach and conjoin with G*d. The term itself, according to the church, is to be translated Co-worker with G*d, which is the stated aim of their spiritual practice. It is not necessarily a “science of soul-travel”, as I’ve seen in many reviews and blurbs about this book. Another example of sloppy scholarship gaining a life of its own.
Lin Carter wasn’t the best writer, his quality varies. This sword-and-planet novel has thick, flowery prose, which I enjoy but is certainly not to universal taste. My next read of this I will pick out all the fun vocabulary words to share.
There are heroic ‘elven-esque’ warriors, fierce giant sized monsters, a shifty adversary, and stunningly beautiful women. One of these women is a strong bandit queen, another … well this is where it gets a bit problematic.
The love interest is a 14 year old princess. “She was young, a girl, a mere child: she looked perhaps fourteen when I saw her first in the Great Hall of Phaolon.” Later, Lin skirts around the age issue, pontificating on how the Green Star society doesn’t measure time like we do and not actually coming out and stating the princess’s age. She is very definitely described to look like a young adolescent. The word ‘lithe’ is thrown around a lot.
This pretty much ruined the re-read for me. My exploration into an inner bibliography has let me re-examine so many of the tropes that shaped me and all these ‘lithe’ love interests and ‘swarthy shifty’ bad guys are indicative on why ridding myself of this type of thinking is an on-going struggle.
Let us put it simply. I do not want to be invested with a pedophilia , bigoted, homophobic, transphobic, or colonizer mindset.
All said and done, this a great example of the flawed (E.R.) Burroughsian tradition, warts and all.
Let us learn, enjoy, evolve, and stay woke.