Souls and shamans: the cosmopolitan psychology of Malcolm Lowry
FOXCROFT, NIGEL (2009) Souls and shamans: the cosmopolitan psychology of Malcolm Lowry In: 2009 Malcolm Lowry Centenary International Conference, 23-25 July 2009, University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. (Unpublished)
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Official URL: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/mmota/lowry.htm
Social breakdown in many communities has resulted in growing interest in seeking alternative and more exotic ways of living as an escape from the pitfalls of the materialism of the Western world. My research aims to respond to these trends by extending current thinking through an innovative, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural stance. My paper aims at advancing previous work on the Day of the Dead (John Orr) and on the Cabbala (Michael Vokits and Perle Epstein) by taking an innovative approach in pursuing Malcolm Lowry’s spiritual odyssey on his mystic mission to attain truth and salvation. This necessitates an investigation of his quest for harmony, uniting man’s natural, supernatural, and celestial roots. It also involves a study of his use of Benjaminian philosophy, psychoanalysis, anthropology, cabbalistic astrology, and even Haitian voodoo in publications such as Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave. A consideration of the full impact of Sir James Frazer’s ethnography and the Aztec mind leads us to an analysis of Lowry’s bizarre combination of Modernism with astrology, magic, the occult, and, indeed, shamanism. His world view provides us with an anthropological basis for Kandinskian psychotherapeutic and shamanic healing, together with a sense of regeneration by ethnographic and artistic means. Currently Western civilization – in its search for the theory of everything - tends to rely heavily on the materialistic values of universal reason, as advanced by the Scientific Revolution, at the expense of aesthetic and spiritual dimensions. However, for Malcolm Lowry, true salvation is attainable only in a Benjaminian, Spiveyian, and Taoist fusion of the two worlds and the two minds - the rational, scientific intellect of the Enlightenment and the subconscious, imaginative intuition of European Romanticism. A new Renaissance in intellectual thought – inspired by Malcolm Lowry’s paradisean symbol of the soul of Eridanus - is required for both concepts to be reconciled
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