Friday, August 14, 2009

Death, Rebirth, Initation... and experience.

It is often easy for the reader to lose sense of the real-world dimension behind abstract analysis. Perhaps this isn't so for scientific inquiry (I wouldn't know), but certainly all of my own nonfiction work - no matter how abstract on its face - was informed or triggered by real world events.

However, it would be odious to us both if all of these connections were always spelled out. I'd like to give just one as a route of entry to conjoined subjects of initiation, death and resurrection.

My sophmore year of college at Bard, I had what should have been a fairly minor surgury. Shortly after the procedure I came to, high on morphine and spitting up blood. For no particular reason that I can find - maybe it was the morphine - I began ranting at nurses and doctors alike about death and resurrection being a central monomyth. I immediately realized that, though we could say this is a common theme in Osiris, Orpheus, Jesus and Dionysus (for instance), it was reductionistic to say they are therefor the same. They tried to increase the dose, but it didn't keep me from finishing my thought before I lapsed again into unconsciousness. My recovery from the surgery had complications and took longer than it should have. During this time I started researching these myths, and meditating on the general topic. This eventually informed the writing of my second novel, and like everything else that gets into us, it is really hard to say after a point how different we would be if we hadn't of had an encounter with an idea at a certain point in time.

I quickly discovered I was certainly not the first to draw a parallel between these myths. However, most of what I came upon fixated on how these myths or dieties were further elucidated by the shared concept of death and resurrection, initiation and mystery. They focused on the myths themselves. I was far more interested in turning this on its head, only dealing with the mythic images as they related to these themes. They had developed in mythic form, I believe, because these are common experiences for all of us, and they are transformative ones. We can all gain knowledge from near-death experiences, and their ecstatic analogs. This experience can be gained through "gaming the system," as it were, which is one part of the function of mystery-school initation, as it contrasts with initiations that serve the primary function of indoctrination. In other words, we can have a near-death experience without necessarily being literally close to death. What is important is the psychological letting-go that occurs here, and again, which occurs in ecstatic trance as well. As we continue, keep this emphasis in mind.

(Very rough draft form of these are in the IoM PDF.)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...