Wandering God

  • Publish Date: 2000-02-17
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Morris Berman
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The third book in Morris Berman's much acclaimed trilogy on the evolution of human consciousness, Wandering God continues his earlier work which garnered such praise as "solid lessons in the history of ideas" (KIRKUS Reviews), "filled with piquant details" (Common Boundary), "an informative synthesis and a remarkably friendly, good-natured jeremiad" (The Village Voice). Here, in a remarkable discussion of our hunter-gatherer ancestry and the "paradoxical" mode of perception that it involved, Berman shows how a sense of alertness, or secular/sacred immediacy, subsequently got buried by the rise of sedentary civilization, religion, and vertical power relationships. In Wandering God, counterculture scholar Morris Berman goes counter-counterculture, 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, taking us back not to the early civilizations and their myths but to our Paleolithic ancestors. While debunking Jung and Campbell, Berman draws on a range of anthropological studies to show civilization itself to be pathological, and religion and mysticism to be a coping response. What is natural, he says, is living in paradox, with a heightened sensitivity to our surroundings, in the timeless uncertainty of moment-to-moment living. Leaning toward what one might consider a Daoist or Zen sensibility, Berman serves up persuasive arguments, and his use of sources from Bernadette Roberts to Ludwig Wittgenstein are 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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