Early reviewers have hailed Peter Kingsley’s impressive « scholarship » as displayed in his CATAFALQUE, taking at face value its mise en scène in volume two, entirely composed of footnotes.
However, the informed reader soon realises that some of these footnotes, despite their bibliographical indications, are more akin to emotional blasts and settling of personal scores than erudite testimonies to his impartiality and willingness to acknowledge his predecessors.
If one could peel off the resentment-blinded pseudo-scholarship (slipped in with the real scholarship) and the claims to contact with absolute reality, Kingsley would be a much more congenial and inspiring figure. Unfortunately he falls victim to the hypothesis of his own uniqueness.
Kingsley’s Grand Narrative is is composed of two grand ideas
(1) the Seeding of the West by Empedocles and Parmenides and a few others. These are the mystics-magicians-shamans-poets who descended into the underworld by means of archaic techniques of ecstatic voyage: drugs, breathing, postures, meditation, incubation, incantation.
(2) the Decline of the West since them. The progressive loss of the Divine Seeds to Reason and egoism.
It is based on ignoring, down-playing, or travestying anyone who espoused any one of the motley set of ideas that he retrieves to compose or to bolster his story.
I think we need to compose and submit to Peter Kingsley a reading list of a dozen books he should read to feel less lonely. He’s read so many books that a few more should be no trouble for him. He may discover that many of his ideas have already been expounded and explored, and welcomed by many,and that he is not at all a lone voice crying in the desert.
1) James Hillman THE DREAM AND THE UNDERWORLD – for a working out of the idea of the encounter with Hades and Persephone, and of psychic reality as the underworld
2) Jeffrey Raff JUNG AND THE ALCHEMICAL TRADITION – for the psychoid reality of the spiritual beings encountered in individuation, and for the alchemical patterning of this process
3) Marie-Louise von Franz C.G. JUNG: His Myth in our Time – for a re-visioning of Jung’s life and work in terms of his personal myth and its collective ramifications
4) Gary Lachman’s JUNG THE MYSTIC – for a full re-integration of Jung within the magical and mystical traditions
5) Edward Edinger THE NEW GOD-IMAGE – for the evolution of the God-image, changing with each new epoch (this could help Kingsley get over his nostalgia for the past).
6) Étienne Perrot’s CORAN TEINT – for a modern day alchemical Jungian adventure lived out in Paris
7) James Hillman ALCHEMICAL PSYCHOLOGY – for a re-psychologisation of alchemy so that it does not spin off into schizoid spirituality, cut off from real human experience in the world of ordinary people
8) James Hillman and Sonu Shamdasani LAMENT FOR THE DEAD – for a contextualising dialogue on Jung’s RED BOOK
Leaving behind the Jungian ghetto, Kingsley could then read
9) Alain Badiou – MANIFESTO FOR PHILOSOPHY. Badiou’s listing of four truth procedures is a useful but preliminary approach to enriching our repertoire of examples, to help us get out of our fixation on a single type of experience and of our drawing unwarranted conclusions from that.
10) Bruno Latour – AN INQUIRY INTO MODES OF EXISTENCE. Latour’s expanded list of 15 modes of existence (as against Badiou’s four truth procedures) is an even better heuristic against conceptual fixation and for the fluidity of ordinary mind, but it still doesn’t go far enough
11) Deleuze and Guattari – A THOUSAND PLATEAUS. (« Thousand » meaning as many as you want, or as is appropriate to the occasion) and its idea of the series of becomings, ending with becoming-ordinary as a perception of the ordinary as itself becoming.
12) Alain Badiou – THE IMMANENCE OF TRUTHS. This would give Peter Kingsley a new understanding of the Absolute, and so a way out of his obsession with transcendance. (he would have to brush up on his transfinite numbers, logic and mathematics are probably a weak spot in his personal culture).
Not only need Kingsley never feel lonely again, he could constantly challenge his beliefs and re-vision his experiences by encountering radically different creative points of view and critical perspectives.