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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

A BRANCH OF WISDOM (article first published : 2002-08-14)

It all started 15 years ago in the psychiatric ward of a South African military hospital. One night Christopher, a returning soldier from the war in Angola, experiences a powerful vision. Believing he has been divinely chosen to fight the evil of the divided apartheid state, Christopher announces his mission to the authorities. They dismiss it as a severe psychotic delusion, make a diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia and, finally, put an end to his months of mental anguish with a course of Electric Shock Therapy.

Now, at the turn of the millennium and approaching mid-life, Christopher, despite wealth and success, grapples with renewed depression and a sense of profound meaninglessness. He suspects there was more to his army experience than the medical fraternity had been able to grasp. Motivated by a mix of desperation and determination, he harnesses his considerable powers of logic, memory, intuition and creativity - and leads the reader along on his personal quest for understanding.

It's a remarkable journey of philosophy, magic, humour, energy and insight, along a series of twists, turns and delightful surprises. In the lands of the ancient Hebrews and Egyptians he asks: "How can the origins of the alphabet help make sense of my life?" Along the way, he also encounters and questions landmark western thinkers: Pythagoras, Descartes, Jung, Hegel and others. Eventually he is lured to the eastern mountain kingdom of Bhutan, where a mysterious meditation tutor and the I Ching lead him to some startling insights - insights that completely change his world.

Illustrated throughout with cutting-edge conceptual art, this is a must-read for anyone who has ever wrestled with a sense of meaninglessness and pondered the greater questions of life.

Is this a passionate call to individuals to identify and tap into the power of the authentic self? Or a philosophical detective story? Is it a celebration of mind, body and spirit? Or a serious critique of western thinking patterns and ways of being? Could it even be a love story?

A Branch of Wisdom is published by Beyond Books and is available at a price of R99 from www.thewordproject.com It is due to reach bookstores nationwide in the near future. Watch this space for the book review.




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