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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 : 2002-12-1)

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

Fresh to the shelves of the South African psyche is an intriguing new publication a branch of Wisdom - a quest for meaning in a divided world.

Beyond Books author “Christopher” reaches across boundaries to produce a deeply personal evocation of his experiences of the brutality of the South African military system and the enlightenment that this (seemingly) may bring.

“It all started 15 years ago in the psychiatric ward of a South African military hospital,” states the publicity material. “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.”

Part philosophy part ancient history, a branch of Wisdom explores the collective unconscious in a mind bending mix of the Tao, the I Ching and Jungian psycho dynamics. Rather like Zen and the art of self-discovery, the author seeks meaning in the signs and symbols of the written language.

Illustrative text plates (MAN IC. MANTIC) recognise the power of symbol to both release and transfix the enquiring mind. Well researched and undeniably inspired, Christopher (sans family name) tackles an eclectic dialectic that would have most boffins well … baffled.

If you have ever wrestled with meaninglessness, this book is for you. The personal self as shaman and healer, the alphabet as coded truth, meditation as a metaphor for a passage to greater things. This book offers the promise of wisdom but you’ll need to concentrate.

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.

A welcome addition to the shelves of the psyche. – Bren Brophy.




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