Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Bones of the Moon

I’m not sure how I came to miss Jonathan Carroll as a writer before now. He was recommended to me a few months back partly because I had written a book called Walkerabout shamanism in which a central character is a wolf spirit guide. The main character in Carroll’s book Sleeping in Flameis called Walker Easterling while a giant wolf features strongly in the first book of his novel cycle,Bones of the Moon. Then, of course, the shaman Venasque dances through all the novels. Venasque can teach people what they most need to know (be it swimming or playing a musical instrument or flying).
“I can teach you to fly. That’s the first step....It’s not such a hard thing to do.”
He can juggle time and space and death. Ah, truly a magician. But you have to learn for yourself; he won’t do it for you.

I stalled though. I didn’t like the cover of Bones of the Moon; I didn’t like the blurb. It sounded like silly fantasy. But then I laid aside my prejudices, started reading and was beyond captivated. I am now in the process of inhaling everything else Carroll has written. People label his books "horror" or "fantasy" - I suppose the nearest tag would be "magic realism" – but I’d rather not pigeon-hole them.  I hate the way books have to be crammed into little boxes.  One thing that is for sure and certain - they are magic, pure magic. I am reading them with my notebook and pen at hand, scribbling down quotes, nodding furiously; shaking my head quizzically. Smiling often; often feeling sad.  Then again punching the air and going 'YESSS!' the way you do when someone is saying in black and white what you have always thought in shades of grey.

“You’ve got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.” You have, haven’t you? Yet the darkness is also beautiful in its own way, no?

“Life has a very bad case of acne which it has no desire to lose, because that would mean it couldn’t look in the mirror fifty times a day and feel sorry for itself.” Hmm. There’s something in that, let’s be honest. We all like to feel sorry for ourselves; we can all revel in 'poor me' syndrome. Many of us clutch tight onto our pain and sickness for the strangest of reasons.

“How far was a dream allowed to trespass into real life, before it was caught and sent back to its proper place?” Ah, but what is dreaming and what is ‘real life’?

“It’s hard convincing yourself that where you are at the moment is your home, and it’s not always where your heart is.” Where is home? When is home? What is home?

Carroll is made for quoting but also loves quoting other people. His blog posts are often just long quotes, like this one from Osho.
“The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person - without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.”

Is that true? I absolutely agree with the first part.  One cannot be with another until one is unafraid of loneliness.  But to be happy at loss?  It is logical and my mind balances the equation but still my heart baulks.

On a lighter note he also says, quoting purely himself:
“Dogs are minor angels, and I don't mean that facetiously. They love unconditionally, forgive immediately, are the truest of friends, willing to do anything that makes us happy, etcetera. If we attributed some of those qualities to a person we would say they are special. If they had ALL of them, we would call them angelic. But because it's "only" a dog, we dismiss them as sweet or funny but little more.”

Ah, and you know how I feel about that. :-)

10 comments:

Alison Cross said...

I MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!

Dogs are not just Angelus Canus, they are also 4-legged Buddhas. I was just reading today an article in a newspaper about how we could learn a lot from just behaving a bit like our dogs :-)

Thanks for this Jane!

Ali x

Exmoorjane said...

Ali- you would love this guy, and totally love the books - I just know you would. :)

Frances said...

Jane, I will have a look for this book.

Let me reaffirm my love for dogs, a love so true, that I could not possibly have a dog living in this tiny apartment, spending hours alone while I Go Out to Work.

Keep thinking someday...

I'm sure there was more I meant to comment, but sorry, I am so tired after my day a work, that as I finish supper just before 10 pm, I just want to send you best wishes, and a particular wish that you will keep writing and posting those words for us to read.

Greedy, am I not? xo

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

“You’ve got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight"
is quote I recognise from canadian singer song writer... Bruce something, and because its quarter to four in the morning, I can't remember his second name. It'll come back to me.
I miss my dog.
xx
Viv
ps am going to go and find this guy's books
pps wv is luxpaltu dog latin for the light is a pla to you

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

“You’ve got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight"
is quote I recognise from canadian singer song writer... Bruce something, and because its quarter to four in the morning, I can't remember his second name. It'll come back to me.
I miss my dog.
xx
Viv
ps am going to go and find this guy's books
pps wv is luxpaltu dog latin for the light is a pla to you

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

Bruce Cockburn. d'oh. brain frazzled.
The name sounds like an extreme form of Aussie school boy torture, like the chinese burn of dread but his songs have both amazing lyrics and tunes

Eliza said...

Sounds like the sort of book I'd like. My future reading list is getting longer and longer.

Anonymous said...

God Part II (U@ Rattle and Hum) also uses the like 'bout kicking the darkness.

Anonymous said...

or, um...line*

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Carroll is also on Twitter as jscarroll and on Facebook where he posts all sorts of goodies Jonathan Carroll