Tuesday, January 8, 2008

John Moriarty's Night Journey to Buddh Gaia: Book Review

One of this mythopoeic writer's last works, this enormous volume of over six hundred pages follows the path he has opened up in similarly expansive earlier works. He repeats much of his incantatory prose, his rather rambling explorations of the breakdown he diagnosis in the Cartesian mentality and the healing possible, in his earnest, serious, and chanted recommendations, in returning to a psychic healing. How? Easier said, and often by him told at either hypnotic evocation or wearying pace depending on your receptiveness, than done.

Moriarty earnestly chides the Western mindset; this book seeks to take us underworld, into twelve gates that he hopes will free us from the typical way we see the world and ourselves. Like Blake or Yeats, he draws upon his own reworking of stories from many traditions, and he integrates these into his own idiosyncratic philosophy in the truest sense of that noun. His care for what he undertakes shows, but his repetitive prose style that conjures up his inner shaman may bewilder readers wanting his antidote in plain words. I have reviewed many of his earlier books on Amazon (US at times) and this new one perhaps fits better a meditative dipping into and out from; it's not the type of book to race through from one cover to the other.

He journeys into "the precosmic Abyss," then the Cedar Forest from Gilgamesh, the Sandbank of Apophis of the Egyptians, the Pit in the cave of Lascaux of primitive painting, Pasiphae's calving ground from the Minoans, Dionysus' theatre from Athens, the Roman Colosseum, the Green Chapel of Sir Gawain, Elsinore's cemetery from Hamlet, Moby Dick's deck of the Pequod, Arnold's Dover Beach, and, finally, Auschwitz. By entering these dark places, he wishes to re-emerge wholly "to a place of civic and psychic refounding." (18) I'd not recommend this to a newcomer. Start with his early work of imagination, Dreamtime, or Invoking Ireland for a cultural concentration on one aspect of what consumed his later life, the search for the sundered unity beneath our fragmented waste land. It's not a journey many readers may have the fortitude and the stamina for, as Moriarty has few peers in his depth of knowledge and his inexhaustible manic passion to share it with whomever wanders by. But, if this method appears less mad and more convincing than the more blatant pop psychology and New Age nostrums beloved by many of lesser mental fitness, than sample Moriarty for yourself.

Posted to British Amazon today; I kept it brief.

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