About the Boy
The Way of the Fool – Part I
A Series On the Inwardness of Becoming
“The underlying, primary psychic reality is so inconceivably complex that it can be grasped only at the farthest reach of intuition, and then but very dimly. That is why it needs symbols.”
– Carl Gustav Jung
Although I have hardly any published work to my name, I have a sizable drawer full of manuscripts and since my eighth year experienced myself as a writer. What I mean by being a writer is that I experience life as wanting to express itself through me in the written word. I have inner experiences which coalesce into symbolically rich pictures and narratives which want out. I feel compelled to write about them as a way to explore the experience. If I don’t write, I am not me. When I write, I am alive. When I don’t, I slide into depression.
There is a mutually reciprocal relationship between my developing capacity for such experiences and the evolving finesse of my writing. I have in this way filled innumerable diaries, penned many a poem, written several short stories, completed a novel and a play, and have left incomplete a larger number of other attempts.
For whatever reason, I found myself in this way at the age of eight when I wrote my first celebrated short story at school, and it may be that growing up in a house which contained more than 6,000 books had some bearing on this as did those who put the books there. However it occurred, I had developed an appetite for reading and a reverence for certain writers, whom I experienced as belonging to a kind of fellowship, a Society of Others, which stretched through human history connecting us to the timeless essence of Nature. Writing to me has always been magical: the words on the page relate to an inner experience which exists outside of space and time and yet is most real; an experience we might describe as spiritual.
I was fortunate in that my environment supported this quality of mine in some ways. At the same time, as I explore in some detail in this piece later on and elsewhere, I was also unfortunate in that my environment did not see the same things I saw either in my writing or outside of it. Especially my attraction to religions, spirituality, symbolism and philosophy where it was not in support of logic and rationalism was difficult to reconcile. This exposed me to an infolded mystery of joy and pain which shaped the journey I have been on so far and confronted me with the quite existential choice of claiming or disowning much of who I felt to be. I was in the grip of an existential shame which drew me into the need to explain the irrational rationally, to somehow accommodate it in some form of functionalism or utilitarianism as a form of rationalisation, an excuse which would legitimise my interest but which actually sucked the lifeblood out of it. However, in the end I persevered and found myself able to accept the reality of my particular inwardness which had visited me from early on.
One such moment was when, at the age of nineteen, I took part in a literary competition which was themed “borders”. As I began to engage with the subject, I saw the Boy for the first time. He came to visit me at my imaginary desk on the porch of a wooden cabin overlooking a vast beach beyond which was an endless ocean. In my imagination, I looked up from my old typewriter, to see him sit there in the warm sand, cross-legged, wordless, patient, gazing at me without blinking. As my eyes fixed on him, he took his index finger and drew a line in the sand between me and him after which he fixed his eyes back on me quite as if to challenge me.
My writing is permeated by this character called the Boy and in one sense every single sentence I have ever written has dealt with the relationship between myself, the line in the sand and the Boy who of course is also me. What I have come to understand is that this landscape I saw then with the Boy in it, simple as it may appear, was richly laden with the most meaningful of symbols which relate not just to myself but which connect me to my fellow writers and, in fact, to all of human kind. I have since journeyed through the landscape of these symbols and so begun to open up a pathway to a dimension on the other side.
This essay is an autobiographical exploration of the inwardness of my becoming along that pathway for which I draw on authors in the fields of psychology, philosophy, poetry, literature, mysticism and more to illustrate, expand on and develop my experience and show how what they thought and wrote shaped me.
I share it with you in the same spirit in which I once wrote to my son in a poem on the occasion of his birth:
for I have been sailing under your command
since long before my own adventures
to a world that once was mine and now is yours —
may you make it someone else’s.
End of Part I.
The Way of the Fool – Part II
A Wondrous Fellow Appears Out of the Darkness
To continue to part II click here: