Green Man, Earth Angel: The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World by Tom Cheetham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
For a book with such a promising title, I was somewhat underwhelmed.
Let's put this in the proper frame: This is a book of proper metaphysics that came out about fifteen years ago but it fully responds to and continues the work of Jung, Henry Corbin, and synthesizes a lot of the BIG IDEAS into seemingly new forms.
You know, the ideas like the "soul of the world", "imaginal worlds", archetypes, duality synthesis, and all the things that are the horribly over-complicated realm of ALCHEMY, as long as we consider alchemy the domain of the psyche.
Please bear with me. Most of the underlying ideas are pretty commonplace. While reading THIS particular book, I was sufficiently impressed by the ability of the author to obfuscate, needlessly prevaricate, and weave a tangled, tangled web.
If I was to rate this on being fully erudite in the sense of knowing his source materials, combining a very wide range of comparative metaphysics, from Sufis to Plato to Corbin, I'd give this a full 5 stars.
If I was to rate this by Umberto Eco's four types of publishable material, I'd call this Moronic. Indeed, it delights in slamming us down with minor variations on an otherwise simple idea, making us bow down to his ability to SOUND impressive as hell without letting us get to the freaking point.
How much did we go into the idea of letting one's whole being suffuse a single idea until our very soul becomes one with it? Tons. It's an old idea. Books are the death of that way of thinking, or it was beginning to die by the time we started getting illuminated texts. The soul needs to immerse itself in its meditations and having a text to go by is the death of original creative thought, etc., etc. Of course, the point is to crank up the volume to ten and exploit the idea until we get to levels of the world, etc.
Fine, fine. We live in the basest, most shadowy level. The point is to break through.
So am I just complaining about clarity concerns?
Nope. I take umbrage with a lot of the FUNDAMENTAL assumptions. So many are left completely undefined. Beyond that, there are brief encounters with statements that assume all thought is based on a neural net. He bases ALL of our experiential quanta on foundations that are shaky at best. If we are supposed to tackle any duality in order to transcend it, then first we need to understand how WE work in the first place.
Everything else is just a review of old thoughts repackaged in an overly complex attempt at the author attempting to overwhelm us. After a certain point, is there a point to exhaustively, densely, going over so many instances of dualism? Most are, at their core, the same; to understand good, you must understand evil. Consciousness, unconsciousness. Reality, imagination. He argues, in a lot of ways, that they are all the same class.
I won't argue the point. I happen to agree with most of it. I do not, however, agree with the full conclusions because we are still spinning in the wind without fundamental definitions. One does not base a whole argument on the weight of other faulty works and assume you're going to come up with something other than "Garbage In, Garbage Out".
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