9780791444429 / 0791444422

Wandering God


Publisher:State University of New York Press



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About the book:

In Wandering God, counter-culture scholar Morris Berman goes counter-counter-culture, taking on such hallowed figures as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. Following the lead of Bruce Chatwin's Songlines, Berman discovers the natural state of humanity in our nomadic origins. To those who take a striving for spirituality--a return to the divine--to be an inherent human need, Berman suggests an expanded time frame, taking us back not to the early civilisations and their myths but to our Paleolithic ancestors. While debunking Jung and Campbell, Berman draws on a range of anthropological studies to show civilisation itself to be pathological and religion and mysticism to be a coping response. What is natural, he says, is living in paradox, in heightened sensitivity to our surroundings, in the timeless uncertainty of moment-to-moment living. Leaning to what one might consider a Daoist or Zen sensibility, Berman's arguments are often persuasive and his use of sources from Bernadette Roberts to Ludwig Wittgenstein nothing short of virtuosic. However, his entire theory seems to stand or fall on whether one accepts the immense causal influence of the Freudian notion of infantile attachment, which, if not subject to the same types of methodological criticism he aims at Jung and Campbell, is at least vulnerable to a Wittgensteinian disentanglement. Berman admits that his theory is preliminary, and Wandering God should be read in that spirit. --Brian Bruya

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