Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Star of Gnosia

The Star of GnosiaThe Star of Gnosia by Damian Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To reduce each piece of fictional art in this book to a "story" does it a profound disservice. This is a gathering of esoteric art and thought, a journey, if you will, into the hidden orders of the heart and mind. Each piece is unique, yet of a kind, in the same milieu, but with specific differences from one another. However, I will not dwell on the specifics of character, setting, and plot, as I feel that each reader must discover these touchpoints for himself or herself, as the reader's own experience will inform their interpretation of these elements. So I speak of each section only in the vaguest of terms, because I think they are so important and so subject to personal interpretation that I can only speak of them obliquely. It would be an injustice for me to interpose my own lens of experience here; in fact, it would be an injustice to me, since my interpretation is so very personal that I consider it a sacred thing. That said, this is not an overt religious text, though it may be interpreted as such by a few. It is a book full of symbols where the interpretation of these symbols and the events surrounding them are subject to the pre-existent experience of the interpreter. Your experience will not be mine, nor should it be. I cannot proscribe or even describe to you what you will feel as you read this work. Nevertheless, I can offer the following:

"The Imperishable Sacraments" is itself a ritual journey, but not without heart and light. i caught myself wanting to rush forward, but trained myself to stop and examine the details in this tale, soon becoming unaware of time, lost in the sacrifice of my sense of urgency to the rewards of attention (even if fought for against the weariness of the preceding day).

"The Apostatical Ascetic" is a foray into the frustrations of reaching out to the beyond, wrestling with the banal and with our lackadaisical acceptance of the everyday grind. Enlightenment comes on its own time, of its own accord. Our attempts at reaching are really only concentrated attempts at waiting for the ineffable to work itself into us. This is as much an occultic primer of yearning as it is a "story".

"A Perilous Ordeal" is not so much a story as it is an initiation or the ripples of an initiation through the surface fiction. This piece should be read and read again and again, as there is and will be something to gain, something to learn, with every repetition, as with every effective ritual.

Reading "The Hour of the Minotaur" was a truly transcendent experience. The prose initiates the reader into deep mysteries, the story strips the veil between reader and narrator, between subject and object. One becomes the mystic journey. Astounding.

"The Star of Gnosia" is three rituals in one: an act of rebellion, a recounting of strictest discipline, and the winsome gambol of a trickster goddess. It is a vision of possibilities tailored to the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the practitioner, their particular foibles, needs, and desires. it is yet another labyrinth where one stumbles from the banal to the sublime. A sort of awkward meditation that does not quite resolve fully - nor should it. As with all practice, one must return again and again to "sort it out". Experience will change the emphasis upon re-reading.

Overall, The Star of Gnosia is a deep well from which one can gather fresh water for, I am guessing, a very long time. For those who are scared away by the mystical references - there is nothing to fear here, outside of the fear of your own self-discovery. Am I a practitioner of "the arcane arts"? No. Do they interest me? They always have. Do I feel like I've compromised my integrity by delving into such a work? Not at all. I feel that I've read some amazing writing that has caused me deep reflection and given me some new avenues of meaning and world-viewing. I don't feel imposed upon and I don't have to impose my views or interpretations on the work itself or others to read it. To do that would not only rob the work of the "breathing room" it deserves, but would be to rob others the joy of discovering this remarkable work for themselves and rob me of the "widening of the gaze" that it has afforded me. And I am no thief, unless I am guilty of stealing insight!

One thing I see a lot of in my future is reading the works of Damian Murphy. His writing is truly unique. I can think of no other work quite like his, though Borges' most mystical writings approach the tenor of his work. There's a hint of Calvino's playfulness and the occasional snap of the literary trickster's fingers reminiscent of Robert Aickman. Now that I've used the names of three of my favorite authors ever in trying to describe Murphy's work, you can bet that I hold this man's writing in very, very high esteem.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment