Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Does Everyone Want to Write a Book?

I have had a sense for the past decade that books are approaching their epistemic or cognitive threshold. Something new is needed--something other than 2nd hand narrative, indirect perception or stale "how to" techniques for the herd. I read recently that approximately 2,200,000 new books are published in the world each year. There were 328,259 published in the U.S. alone in 2010; another source says 500,000 in the U.S. in 2010.

I love books, adore books, devour books--but feel they are nearing their end. How many books can one read? Which ones with so many choices? It is overwhelming and impossible to keep up with even a single field of study. Between books, magazines, mp3s, audio recordings, newspapers, journals, blogs, television, cinema, computer, video games, etc., we are inundated by 2nd hand images that are externally generated ("ex-generated") rather than internally generated ("in-generated") or connected to the fresh and personal Imaginal Realm or Collective Unconscious available directly to each of us. I understand that ex-generated images may act as links (symbols) to help activate in-generated images, but they are not synonymous. It's the difference between frozen idols and living images. It's the difference between reading a menu and sampling the food.

This was substantiated recently by movie director Steven Soderbergh who is retiring because he is tired of making films. When asked why in the Feb. 4, 2013 issue of the New York magazine, he said: "It's a combination of wanting a change personally and of feeling like I've hit a wall in my development that I don't know how to break through. The tyranny of narrative is beginning to frustrate me, or at least narrative as we've currently defined it. I'm convinced there's a new grammar out there somewhere. But that could just be my form of theism."

Yes! A new form of grammar, conceivably connected to some form of theism. Perhaps the reason everyone and his pet pig wants to write and publish a book is due to the psychological necessity of having ones own personal life-plot, of a compulsion to tell our soul's story. The Living Word in each of us knows that it must become ever more fleshy, but we keep reducing the flesh to words and images. Each person is the story--a first-hand account of an inevitable and necessary plot--or as Paul said, "You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone" (2 Cor. 3:2). Perhaps the new alphabet is psychological, spiritual and individual. Perhaps the so called New Age "channeling" fixation/phenomenon is the forerunner of something more substantial, personal and vital. Perhaps Walsh's Conversations With God is a primer for Go Have a Conversation With the Gods!

I have been reading a lot of Owen Barfield these days, and his Coleridgeian notion of personal participation in the imaginal realm, similar to Jung's Active Imagination and Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophical works (How to Know Higher Worlds, Staying Connected: How to Continue Your Relationships With Those Who Have Died, and Start Now!: A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises). These all address dialogical interaction with the archetypal "persons" present to our consciousness--moving beyond the veil of ordinary consciousness. Perhaps our modern book-glut and literary epidemic is a sign that we are approaching a new epoch--a quantum psychology that will rock the world as much as the printing press and the internet; something like a kind of spiritual intra-net. It is likely a few decades off, or not. But something is up. One can take only so much virtual reality and hand-me-down imagination before the next layer of reality must be experienced. Soderbergh's statement really strikes me, "I'm convinced there's a new grammar out there somewhere. But that could just be my form of theism." With Roger Waters and The Wall we ask, "Is there anybody out there?" Perhaps all of that "Junk DNA" inside of us is waiting to be activated as the new biological means to access and commune with the netherworlds only a few have known up 'til now.

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