26 July 2004

im almost done with philip pullman's his dark materials trilogy. i started it saturday night, and will most likely finish tonight...thats two days. {contrast this with the book i just left, james joyce's ulysses, where i spent a wolid (yes, wolid) week trudging through the first 66 pages. i got over the stream of consciousness thing, and actually started to like it a bit, (though one night i was drinking irish whiskey while reading it and just kept laughing out loud at all the nonsequiters, saying to my empty room "hes just saying whatever the fuck he wants! look, he just said THAT!")...but all those fucking irish words!! i cant deal with all those fucking irish words!!} so, yeah, i havent finished it (pullman) yet, but it is reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaallly good. i cant beleive something so blatantly (BLATANTLY) anti-christian is being marketed to children.

my absolute favorite books are the great fantasy epics...narnia and the ring, of couse, plus gaiman's sandman and s king's dark tower and lil old popular harry potter. also just read white's the once and future king too, king arthur, and plenty more fun. pullman apparently felt that narnia in particular was sexist, racist, christian propoganda, and wanted to write a response. his trilogy ends up being more about fate vs choice than good vs evil, but its still set against a backdrop of dualistic christianity. the ring is clearly good vs evil, delves into the internal struggle of human nature quite a bit, has rampant christian symbolism which tolkien has denied, but still, dualistic for sure. potter: good vs evil dualism central, and even the attempt at ambiguity in snape has run pretty thin by now, i think (cant they see how good he is?). arthur seems to have a lot more to do with human nature, internal battles, the attempt to civilize society, let the god in man win over the dog. again, dualistic. king gets pretty metaphysical (though nowhere near as interestingly as pullmans take on quantum physics), but hes got his good guys and his bad guys locked firm. sandman is maybe the least dualistic of the bunch...the endless's ambiguous role as neither gods nor humans leaves them kind of free from normal moral rules, and dream is just so very interesting. but the christian and greek influence is super prominent (lucifer gives dream the keys to hell in one story), and there are always two sides in conflict.

and all of these series are strictly goal oriented. destroy the ring, defeat the bad guy, get to the tower, die, etc. maybe thats not surprising, as most narratives are goal oriented, but certainly twentieth century literature has shown us that non linear or even static narrative is possible and often really good.

in 10th grade, we read hesse's siddhartha. i remember really liking it, but i only found out years later that it had anything to do with buddhism (good fucking teacher, huh?).

so heres my thought: what would a nondualistic, nonwestern, nongoal oriented fantasy epic look like? think of all of the lessons of major eastern religions: presence, mindfulness, nonduality, acceptance, understanding, compassion. the destruction of the pairs, good and evil, light and dark, man and woman, subject and object. the though of living only for the present moment, the fool card, the future nonexistent. what about a story like that, but with lots of cool witches and shit?

what if you went on a quest to find out what your goal was, and atop a lonely mountain at the edge of the world you cleared you mind and dropped your sword and your whitehaired master emerged from a slowly flying dandelion cloud and cut your arm off, and you realized that your goal was to find out what your goal was, and with that realization you had gotten it, and your mind collapsed upon itself?

maybe im looking for a seven volume zen koan,
with lots of cool witches and shit.

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