Thursday, September 3, 2009

They Whisper by Robert Olen Butler- Cravings and Powerful Desires

Wow, the border feels as if it is almost in sight! We leave today from Elk Lake Resort outside of Bend. This next bit is a long push up to Timberline lodge, 150 miles away. Then it is only a couple days to the Columbia River from there!

Have been reading They Whisper by Robert Olen Butler. Wow. I would love to hear thoughts on this book if anyone out there reads this one! It seems quite deep, complicated, and powerful! It taps deeply into the issues of writing, life, love, and more?

I have almost finished the book, about five pages left. I am wondering what it will ultimately say about these things.. but I wonder what I would think of them as well, this book having come this far, and brought them so thoroughly to the surface, already a remarkable achievement. The book already has shown, more clearly than I have seen anywhere else, what love is and what love is not. Wow! The words take us quite clearly, on a well defined path, from point A to point B, again and again, showing us what life is with love, and what it is whithout it. This is amazingly clear. The writing is very poetic, in the sense that you feel very strongly when you read it that you are expereincing a deeply felt life, a strong character connection. Then, as you put the book down, and try to tell someone about what you read, it feels slippery, like you can't hold onto the expereince, can't quite describe exactly what it was you were experiencing. It feels very intimate because of this. Like poetry and mediation, and now literature, you feel as if you are the only one experiencing this moment, and no one else can really know whats going on for you at the moment.

How do we share the feeling that we cannot share? Perhaps this is the most innate, deep, and wonderful sense of ourselves. I get the sense that we are, as the saying goes, all unique, just like everyone else. But there is much more than this here. It goes into the nature of religious expereince. It mentions catholocism, buddhism, and just plain expereince of nature as all ways of dealing with the world. It is hard to determine at this point exactly what the writing is arguing for. The overdone sensuality is certainly there to bring the issues of the flesh to the surface, but does it do more than merely bring the issue up? Does it argue for a certain conviction, a certain way of seeing things?

From a Buddhist perspective, is the main character too attached to these women? Too attached to his own craving or desire? He certainly identifies very heavily with his desire. That is his religion. Or is it truth that is his religion? Is his own personal truth simply that he loves women, that is what drives him, gives him life, fills out his senses, draws him closer to his own personal sense of God? Or, alternately, is he in his own personal hell? I don't really think so.... except, when he is denied enjoyment of the pleasures of women. Then, he is in his own personalized hell. This is the tricky grey area of religion and of life. In the Buddhist tradition, it is the challenge of the rose. To enjoy the beauty of the flower, but not to be cut by the thorns. To not grasp the thorny stem too tightly, to not hang on. To be able to let go is divine.

Writing itself is incredible. Life is incredible, and this is certainly a great boook to read!

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