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EYE When you begin to fear

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Somewhere between the miraculous, beautiful and often bewildering fact of its bare existence, and the relentless demands of the world in which it finds itself, a human being establishes its idea of ‘self’. 

‘The Damnation of Fist – a Tragedy argues that this apparently natural and effortless process is in fact perilously precarious, every step hazarding potential for poisonous self-delusion, selfishness, negligence and deceit; and that the fidelity of being we thus endanger resembles so closely the common conception as actually to be our soul.


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‘The Damnation of Fist’ follows the influence of today’s culture of covetous aspiration on one young man, John Fist. A warm, imaginative soul, deeply stirred by the beauty and wonder of the world, is persuaded that he must put aside all else to foster a fearsome determination to ‘succeed’ in life.

For a society founded upon the routine reduction of the miracle of human being to consumable commodity, and which condemns gluttonous affluence more in envy than principle, ‘The Damnation of Fist’ shows what might befall even the most open-hearted of us if tempted to give full rein to culturally inculcated desires.


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‘The Damnation of Fist’  journeys between the beauty, wonder and occasionally terrifying isolation of our sharpest conscious existence and the fretful, farcical, and sometime dreary soap opera we make of our life. The novel both marvels at and mourns the nature of our condition: how many of its tyrannies we accept without comprehending our true freedom, how much of its magnificence we reject with profligate cause.

Earnest while earnestly avoiding polemic, ‘The Damnation of Fist’ endeavours to render something thoughtful, compelling, moving but above all entertaining. Driven by action and character as much as its deeper significances, it is by turns comic and profound, lyrical and compelling, heartening and harrowing.


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‘The Damnation of Fist’: a timely tale for a society at risk of realising too late that it has commoditised its soul. 

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Present economic circumstances touch the publishing world as closely as any, rendering it difficult indeed for a work that strives to be as original and significant as it is relevant and entertaining, to find representation. 

But I feel it the task of literature to be concerned with more than the ‘shifting of units’; indeed, that it is its primary duty to challenge such potentially perilous cultural undercurrents. It is in precisely such conditions as ours that we must embolden our fundamental humanity: we must bring it sharply to mind, celebrating its joys, mourning its failings, but in passionate appreciation of the sheer astonishing fact of it.

Such is the fervent aim of ‘The Damnation of Fist – a Tragedy’.

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Jung at Heart: Words Truly Butter No Parsnips

Carl Jung

Having continued in my reading, and huge enjoyment of Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’, I have been struck by further parallels with ‘The Damnation of Fist‘ that I would have drawn on in the novel had I read it earlier, or not vowed to myself that it was now finally and irrevocably complete.

In fact, it is quite plain that John Fist would have benefited hugely from a few psychotherapy sessions with the great man.

As I hope my makes clear, and as any analyst worth his salt would tell you, all the answers John needs lie within his grasp, within himself. His problems have arisen because of the conflict between the facet of his identity which senses a miraculous existential reality, and that more rational side which urges him to ignore such chimerical intimations of existence and ‘make something of himself’ in the world. Indeed, we may well believe that this emotional perdition John experiences ought to be the making of him in the truest sense. As Jung himself wrote,

“A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them”.

Jung claimed that he frequently treated those who had become psychologically disturbed by their efforts to content themselves with answers to the questions of life which, for them, were inadequate or wrong. Seeking position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, they remained unhappy and despairing even when attaining that which they sought. These people were, Jung believed, confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon, their lives lacking sufficient meaning. If enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, their anguish generally abated or disappeared.

Jung illustrates his observation with a story of an intelligent, chic and vivaciously attractive young Jewish woman who was suffering a severe anxiety, the cause of which his colleagues could not discover. During the course of analysis, Jung learned that although her father was a conventionally rich successful secularised Jew, her grandfather had been a deeply holy rabbi, who many had thought touched by saintliness.

Jung saw that, despite her outward appearance and her more conscious identity, his patient was far less her father’s daughter than her grandfather’s granddaughter:

“She was not just a superficial little girl, but …beneath the surface were the makings of a saint. She had no mythological ideas, and therefore the most essential feature of her nature could find no way to express itself. All her conscious activity was directed toward flirtation, clothes, and sex, because she knew of nothing else.”

Conscious of nothing but the intellect, she yet unconsciously knew that she lived a meaningless life.

“In reality she was a child of God whose destiny was to fulfil His secret will.”

Jung’s idea of ‘God’ is accords with that of many philosophers as well as theologians of all faiths: that whereof man can only ever intuit an “unseen presence”, “a numen that lives its own life, and in whose presence man shudders”.

Jung recounts the experience of watching the sunrise amongst African tribesman with whom he was staying.

“The sun’s birth in the morning strikes the natives as so overwhelmingly meaningful. The moment in which light comes is God. That moment brings redemption, release. To say that the sun is God is to blur and forget the archetypal experience of that moment.”

Jung’s patient “belonged to that class of human beings of whom spiritual activity is demanded” and Jung, who professed always to treat his patients in not only the fullness of their own personal individualization but moreover that which formed their cultural collective unconscious, sought to awaken mythological and religious ideas in her.

“Thus her life took on a meaning, and no trace of the neurosis was left. In this case I had applied no ‘method’, but had sensed the presence of the numen. My explaining this to her had accomplished the cure.”

Jung thought that most modern Westerners prone to such a sense of intense innermost experience are overcome by fright and will turn away from it. The experience reveals to them the true adventure open to an awakened human spirit, and it terrifies because it has become alien to the modern human mind. That life might have a truer reality than the one we have all seemingly agreed upon is such an anathema to most that to contemplate it is contemptible.  So will modern material rationalism have us respond.

But Jung was convinced that to possess only an intellectual point of view and ignore empirical criteria is where perilous aberrations begin. The first such error is the attempt to dominate everything by the intellect, serving to substitute for ineffable experiential reality an apparently secure, artificial, but merely two-dimensional conceptual world, in which the reality of life is smothered under so-called clear concepts.

“Experience is stripped of its substance, and instead mere names are substituted, which are henceforth put in the place of reality. No one has any obligations to a concept; that is what is so agreeable about conceptuality – it promises protection from experience.”

“The spirit does not dwell in concepts, but in deeds and in facts. Words butter no parsnips; nevertheless, this futile procedure is repeated ad infinitum.”

In ‘The Damnation of Fist’ John is one who intuits, beyond the delusion of such rational conceptualization, the truth of reality; his unconscious will not allow him to acquiesce to an existence thereby effectively experienced only from the outside. Jung believed that had those like John lived in a period and in a milieu in which man was still linked by myth with nature as truly experienced, rather than purely as rationally comprehended, they would have be spared such division with themselves.

“I am speaking of those who cannot tolerate the loss of myth and who can neither find a way to a merely exterior world, to the world as seen by science, nor rest satisfied with an intellectual juggling with words, which has nothing whatsoever to do with wisdom.”

I wrote the ‘Damnation of Fist’, itself a fictionalized autobiography, as one who could not rest satisfied with a juggling of words that wasn’t in as full a knowledge of the juggling I was doing, and an illustration of the limitation of mere words, as I was capable.

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