The Televisionary Oracle

My book The Televisionary Oracle has been reprinted

See the spectacular cover

Read excerpts

Praise for the book:

"I've seen the future of American literature, and its name is Rob Brezsny." - novelist Tom Robbins

"Like a mutant love-child of Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin, Rob Brezsny writes with devilish humor, spiritual audacity, and erotic intensity. *The Televisionary Oracle* is a kick-ass gnostic tale. Prepare to be astonished." - Jay Kinney, author, Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions

"The Televisionary Oracle's heroine, Rapunzel, is one of recent literature's sexiest female protagonists." - *Weekly Alibi*

"The Televisionary Oracle is a book so weird it might drive you stark raving sane." - Robert Anton Wilson

Here's a review by TERI TYNES

Imagine taking Rob Brezsny’s weekly “Free Will Astrology” column and expanding it into an unconventional romantic and sexy fantasy of over 480 pages. Imagine, too, an overly twisted gendered fairy tale with two sexy protagonists set against a post-apocalyptic northern California backdrop. Forget, also, the conventions of poetic license you learned in school, because Brezsny pushes that envelope with a lusty New Age irreverence toward reality. This book is a trippy boomer grad school-inspired flight of fantasy involving such things as astral projections, apparitions of dead culture heroes, and twisted outtakes of popular culture. David Bowie is here. So is Eleanor Roosevelt.

Welcome to The Televisionary Oracle. In this routinely funny romp through New Age enlightenment and healthy madness, the author shoves the reader into the often-unexplored regions of the imagination. In his repeated flights of fantasy, he’s also managed to underpin his tale with this important message: In the contemporary information age, with all its digital bells and whistles, we’ve allowed ourselves to be bombarded and compromised by the corporate media mongers. We’ve all gone soft. We’ve allowed our own potentially rich imaginations to go to hell in a hand basket.

The Televisionary Oracle revolves around the predestined clash between two highly charged protagonists, the sexy aggressive Rapunzel Blavatsky and the charismatic extrovert Rockstar. While she’s the product of an idealized feminist upbringing, he’s a self-described “macho feminist” male diva. The story follows the classic novelistic formula of the maturation pattern, with each character growing into their respective longings and destiny. Of the two stories, Rapunzel’s, not surprisingly, follows the classic fairy tale. Once upon a time, several women raised her as the pre-ordained feminist world savior. She was born with a vulture-shaped birthmark on her head, and her mothers raised her in a world dominated by herstory. In time Rapunzel does let down her hair, growing into a funny, aggressive, playful, and sublimely confidant young woman. Her task is to break from her overly protective mommas and find her own way to super-feminist stardom.

Rockstar, her male foil, is a dizzyingly energetic shamanistic Jim Morrison type but one more self-controlled and adventurous than the late lizard king. He, too, must find his own way through his cheeky feminism, one in which he’s made a game out of winning over women by exaggerating his worst masculine qualities. He’s a jerk, but such a funny, self-deprecating one that he’s certain to win the heroine’s admiration.

Rockstar proves by the end of this fairy tale that he’s willing to sacrifice his own stature and even his biological destiny to gain admission to Rapunzel’s cult -- ”the Menstrual Temple of the Holy Grail.” Brezsny builds his narrative by answering Rapunzel’s question to Rockstar at the novel’s outset: “Would you be interested in taking on the power of those who bleed but do not die?” Whatever Brezsny has done with this book, one thing is certain. It must rank in contention for the novel with the most references to menstruation ever written by a man.

The novel also centers so much on eastern and western religions and mythology that agnostics or atheists may have trouble getting through even the first pages. However, this does not mean the references translate into any kind of organized religiosity. With its vaulted Gnosticism and its worship of Mary Magdalene, for example, The Telelevisionary Oracle would certainly make it on a fundamental Christian hit list. Buddhists, I’m sure, too, would be appalled, though probably not as much.

The book, too, features some fun historical personages -- for example, Antonin Artaud and Madame Blavatsky. Artuaud, a French dramatist, actor and poet of the early 20th century, crafted a ceremonial and ritually-based theater, one that replaced bourgeois storylines with a more psychologically realistic drama. Theater, for him, was nothing if it wasn’t about sex or death or both. Madame Blavatsky, a Russian born spiritualist, formed the Theosophist Society in New York in 1875, advocating an appreciation for eastern religions and the spiritual unity of the universe. She also embraced time travel and astral projections. Together, Artaud and Blavatsy serve as Brezsny’s most important psychic and spiritual guides.

While the maturation pattern of our two heroes serves as the book’s narrative engine, Brezsny’s concept of the “Drivetime” serves as its most important theme. As the novel is one long advocacy piece for recharging the imagination, the important concept here is understanding the importance of that twilight space between “Dreamtime” and “Waketime.” The Drivetime is where dreams inform the waking hour, and vice versa. It’s also the place where we embody contradictions. As Rapunzel teaches Rockstar, it’s the “power spot where you agree with everything you disagree with and disagree with everything you agree with-and vice versa.”

“The most important aspect of Rapunzel is a robust sense of humor, “Brezsny said in a recent telephone interview. “She’s aggressive and not mean. She’s obviously not prefeminist or feminist. She lives as if she comes from the future, as is if political feminist ideals have already been realized. It’s already happened. She’s grown up in that culture. She’s not overcompensating but she can be really balanced.”

Asked to compare Rapunzel with other women heroines, Brezsny suggested, “It’s a universal struggle for a heroine to define oneself to a loving but oppressive loving of the group. It’s much easier to portray the family institution as mean and nasty. It’s the usual story. Bildungstrom or whatever that German word is.”

On the telephone, Brezsny is funny, chatty, and philosophical, much like his novel and his astrology column. Of Rockstar, his leading male character, Brezsny said, “His longing to become a feminist is very unusual, his willingness to surrender... The quest to become sincerely reverent but in the moment... that kind of man and at the same time cultivate his lusty sensibility.”

Part of what motivates Brezsny is his conscious resistance to what he calls in the novel “the global genocide of the imagination,” the manufactured entertainment culture that’s driven only by money. Discovering one’s own “Drivetime” allows the individual to take charge of his or her imagination.

“And ultimately, too,” Brezsny commented, “one of the purposes is one of the alchemical acts of embracing the contradiction. We live too often where there’s a refusal to synthesize the opposites, the fusions of being both us and them at the same time.”

He explained that he did not completely embrace the New Age culture. “Where I depart from New Age,” he said, “is that they celebrate intuitive at the expense of the analytical. It needs to be simultaneous. It’s important with any shamanistic journey, exploring the non-ordinary. You can’t leave your discrimination behind.”

We talked about our dreams and writing, and I confessed that my dreams had grown more vivid after I read his book. “One of the tasks is to make my dreams more vivid,” he said, “to carry them over into my waking life.” He said he believes dreams have an important affect on the world. “One understanding of the shamanistic path is that the spiritual world is the origin of the material world. I’ve written down my dreams for 20 years and remembered them every night,” he said.

I asked him about his astrology column and his current book tour. A self-confessed introvert who spends a couple of hours every day in meditation, Brezsny now finds himself spending those hours meeting the public. “It’s been great to actually meet the people who’ve read me.”

When I tell him I know people who thrive on his weekly doses of advice, Brezsny said, “I’m pumping up their imaginations. There’s so little nourishment. It’s one service that the column provides. There’s often a potentially contradictory message.”

“Your life is not held hostage.”