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Dualism I

Monday, February 18th, 2013

The Tiger – Wikipedia

This is not actually a book review, but I put up the book which has dominated my week because of the dualism study it contains.   HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY is a novel written by Audrey Niffinegger, who also wrote the TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE   – another favorite read – and was our book group read for this month.

I am not an expert on dualism, though if I had completed a doctoral program I probably would have used dualism, education, and counseling theories as the main part of my dissertation.  I have been fascinated by the subject ever since my Father and Uncle tried explaining it to me when I was about 8 years old.  My Uncle felt that dualism and it’s rigidity was what was wrong with religion and my Father felt that it only limited the possibilities of more dimensional thinking and outcomes, when someone was not able to think and be creative – it just created artificial boundaries in all of life.  The spark of this idea took hold as I watched these two men who loved each other have a full afternoon, friendly, competitive discussion at the lake.  It changed my life and my thinking forever.

I true miss those great discussions I had in college and at slumber parties, do you?

The title, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, is from the William Blake poem THE TIGER published in 1795 and which is the most anthologized poem in the English language.   Tiger is but a metaphor for the manipulative, controlling forces of evil (or Satan) and the corresponding poem the LAMB thought to be goodness or maybe even JESUS.

THE TYGER
Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of then eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And What shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer?  what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I spent several hours reading the book HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, spent two hours at book group and then dedicated another 6 hours of study to dualism this week.  The novel is a fictional work about twins who are the daughters of twins.  I am not being too specific here because that is part of the plot would muddy the waters, but the twins of both generations are caught in a dualistic experience and they are rigid in their adherence to the dimensions, as though it were a religious doctrine, and they only find separation when they discover new dimensions and possibilities.  One twin in the story exploits and manipulates these discoveries.

If one is captured in a rigid dualism continuum then it is nearly impossible to discuss or change or think in any format but a hierarchical pattern of good and evil with only wavy lines of deviation within the spectrum.   Whereas, if one can free their thinking to see the dualistic points of extreme on a horizontal continuum then the thinking is only limited by how far one can visualize the end points of possibility and move it towards  infinity and the ultimate creativity – the big bang- AH HA – of thinking!

It is fascinating that in the 1700’s and earlier, folks had already figured this out – even though many of them still believed that the world was a hierarchical dualism.  And yet, even as more and more people reject the hierarchy of dualism it is still what is holding us back from manifesting our greatest authentic selves.  We are limited and controlled.

A current example of constipated dualism which we can witness right now – is the present Congress of the USA.  Or the Traditional Medical folks working against the Alternative Medicine folks and Money winning / people losing.  All we are left with is the growing dimension of FEAR – which defines it’s presence through VIOLENCE.

A discussion about violence is what began our book group experience and concern about how prolific it is right now in our society/culture.  Folks were asking WHY?  And here we held some answers to that question right in the book we were discussing.

What have you done recently to move yourself forward and away from fear?  How do you change your thinking?

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations welcome.

Related Reading to Enjoy:
Making Change: An Often Overlooked Step
Courage: Overcoming fear and igniting self confidence
Search Inside Yourself
 How We Make Decisions and Changes

What the Zhang Boys Know ~Clifford Garstang

Sunday, September 30th, 2012


I usually savor books of short stories, allowing each one to unfold on different days or similar to the treat of “second dessert” before I go to bed at night.  WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW, is a Novel in Stories and was a devouring experience.  I read cover-to-cover all in one day as I got hooked into each selection and could not wait to see what the Zhang Boys knew.

Clifford Garstang’s writing has a precision that leaves no detail unfurnished and yet is sparse, it is formal and yet concise; the writing is Danish modern design next to French tassels.  The book is a Global experience though it is all about the residents of a renovated building, transformed into condos at the edge of China town in Washington DC.  12 stories of loss and change are unfolded as separate lives weave into a whole theme.  One story is very painful and forces the other residents’ parallel problems to be seen as more the normal pitfalls of human travel and travail.

I enjoyed how dualism was explored in this book from male and female, ethnic backgrounds and cultural training, to the blond curly and black straight hair – oh and that could be reversed with ease!

One character says,” It occurred to me then, and I only become more firmly convinced as the years go by, that in some ways the world is united by being witness to unspeakable evil.  We seem to be powerless to prevent it from arising, and we do not succeed in stopping it (when we recognize it at all) even by flinging ourselves under its wheels.” “But what we can do, and have done unfailingly through millennia of malevolencies is give voice to the victims.”

In this read, there is a marvelous quirkiness to each of the characters that just wants your attention.  The building is full of artists and eccentrics and just the plain old, plain old good people exploring their journey and moving forward.  Whereas the back alley is abandoned to the detritus of those stuck and honing into a masking of their acute loss of hope and love.  The deserted factory will probably never become a city park.

I liked how the Chinese history and characters interacted with the present reality.

The author has plenty of experience with writing and has all the right degrees to tout his skills; he is also a student of law and foreign affairs and has travelled a great deal.  He knows a great deal about historic loss and political maneuverings which radically change the path of a human life and about how these events can bring a new mix to the pursuit of self and belonging.

As the season of gift giving is approaching in my culture and tradition, I have put this marvelous read on my list for 2 special  20 somethings and 2 friends who love history,  politics in hindsight, and human journeys as much as I do.  What the Zhang Boys Know is art itself.

Is there something you know in your life that would make a wonderful short story?

Clifford Garstang’s Website   (I need to say that I would consider the write up about this book a real spoiler – it tells too much). Blog: Perpetual Folly

tlclogo

I did receive a copy of this book from Press 53  and TLC online book tours and I thank them very much for this opportunity of enjoyment.

One lucky commenter will receive a copy of this book from the Publisher – We will do a random drawing in the middle of the TLC book tour.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.   Donations also welcome.

Related Reading:
Olive Kitteridge
Walter’s Muse
Hannah Coulter
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Walter Fry