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Hey Beauty and Truth Fans!"Instant Planet"/Summer 2000
Hey Beauty and Truth Fans -- What Time Is It?
It's Time for The Televisionary Oracle!
By Joy Shayne Laughter
If, like me, you were blown into a sad realm by Terence McKenna's death; if, like me, you intuited that Terence's formidable scientific rigor and precisely-formed darts of genius and humor were all preparation for something more; if, like me, you wonder what the next phase of this evolutionary boot camp will be and who'll be demonstrating for the class . . it's time for you to read The Televisionary Oracle by Rob Brezsny.
Yes, that Rob Brezsny. Author of [Free Will] Astrology, the weekly smorgasbord of spiritual art projects for heart, soul, and kundalini that sneaks into our lives like a sun-sign horoscope column. Founder of the bands Tao Chemical and World Entertainment War, purveying rock 'n' roll performance art to exorcise and bless us with Goddess-centered satire and catharsis. Want more of Rob Brezsny's kind of prose, poetry, song lyrics and fever-dream visions? Want 483 pages of it? The Televisionary Oracle is your One True Beloved for the next two weeks, or however long it takes you to gobble it up. Lots of readers will laugh out loud; I grinned like a monkey all the way through, my heart exploding with joy. This is a healthy book.
The Televisionary Oracle landed in bookstores just a fortnight after McKenna's passage. Is that spooky news? Of course, the difference between McKenna's presentation style and Brezsny's is the difference between a riveting lecture and a rip-roaring food fight. But therein may lie our next stage of growth.
As you might expect from seeing Brezsny's name on the cover, The Televisionary Oracle is packed with outrageous images and whip-smart verbosities that turn everyday garbage (popsicle sticks, underpants) into gateways to the Dreamtime. The publishers were apparently a bit puzzled by all this. On the back cover, down in the left-hand corner next to the price, is where they suggest to the bookseller how to shelve the product. Here the publishers have written, "Fiction/Mythology/Rock & Roll." Yeah, sort of.
The Televisionary Oracle is a quasi-autobiographic tale in two timelines and three voices: a Male protagonist and his journey; a Female protagonist and her journey; and the Oracle itself. The Oracle starts us off and bridges the chapters with surreal news and advice (something like Brezsny's astrology columns), effectively breaking the trance created by each protagonist's tale. We begin slam-bang when the Male protagonist, a musician/poet named Rockstar, is pounced upon by the Female protagonist, Rapunzel, as he writes graffiti on a ladies' room's wall. Rockstar's fascination with/lust for Rapunzel and hints of her mysterious knowledge about his ambitions to be a fully-feminist, non-patriarchal man are quickly established, and Rapunzel vanishes. Over the next several chapters, Rockstar's story follows him over the course of a few hours, to his gig that night with his band, World Entertainment War (!) where he encounters Rapunzel again.
Meanwhile, Rapunzel's chapters cover roughly 30 years as she tells the story of her life from conception onwards. If you've ever wondered what it's like to grow up knowing you're an avatar for the Goddess, yet boiling over with the need to rebel, Rapunzel's the raconteur you've longed for.
These three alternating voices and contrasting timelines (is the Oracle's a "timeless" line?) set up a tension that is somehow both a powerful vehicle carrying the reader along, and a big soft hug with a tigerish purr inside it. Rockstar's tale in intimate, interior and reflective; Rapunzel's is an epic hero's journey full of adventure; both are grounded in a detailed love of one patch of Planet Earth -- Santa Cruz, California.
Blessedly, Brezsny has not the slightest inclination to talk down to his readers when it comes to the philosophy bits. He simply assumes the intelligence, curiosity, eclecticism and passionate imagination of everybody is up there with his own, and works riffs on Antonin Artuad, Madame Blavatsky, Paracelsus, Jung, the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Goddess-symbology and quirky latin alchemical phrases into the natural course of things. Flashes of background exposition about these heavyweights don't slow anything down, either; instead, they lighten and brighten.
While Brezsny isn't a novelist the way Toni Morrison or E.M. Forster are novelists, we can be thankful The Televisionary Oracle isn't likely to be shelved with other "philosophical" or "spiritual" novels like The Celestine Prophecy" or Jonathan Livingston Seagull or all that Lynn Andrews crap. It's better. Oracle has more fun, more sex, more freaky-concept cojones, more daring, more stuff you could actually go out and do in your own life!
Unfortunately, I had to walk into Borders to buy a copy. I then marched it around to several local independent booksellers and said, "Carry this!" One look at the wildass cover painting of a Kali goddess dancing in front of a tower of burning televisions, and they scribbled down the ISBN. To you, too, I say, verily, the book doth kick butt. If you don't see it in an independent bookstore, go to Rob Brezsny's web site and order it from Amazon.com (with hits and some more moolah going back to Rob).
Joy Shayne Laughter was so moved by reading this book and hearing Rob Brezsny perform with members of World Entertainment War on his book tour while she endured an excruciating perimenopausal menstrual period, she gave birth to a new performance art diva whose mission is to kill the apocalypse with adorable arts & crafts.
"Instant Planet" is a quarterly arts and spirituality magazine published in Seattle. Contact them by emailing email@example.com or writing Instant Planet Press, P.O. Box 22229, Seattle, WA 98122.
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