THE SECULAR GRAIL


28,909 words

Foreword

The Secular Grail is a collection of essays, prose fragments and deliberations on a variety of topics. These include cities, technology, natural history, sexuality, the nature of consciousness, dreams and culture. There are also a number of meditations on language and writing.
For the most part the text consists of condensed, essentialized statements. There is little of literary or scholastic convention in them. Although the pieces are grouped according to subject they are also arranged in a series of modular units that do not have to be read in order.
The unstated premise of The Secular Grail is that the mind and body are one and that the heart and mind are also one. (The heart, the seat of the emotions, is physically located in the mind/brain.) It also holds that curiosity is innate to the human spirit--that it is a primal, emotional drive--and that science is the impartial engine of curiosity. Furthermore, it posits that there is no division between nature, culture and technology. Vinyl is as natural as lichen.
Our personality, our essence, who we are, is like a one-of-a-kind software that can run only on a single, unique computer. When this computer ends so does the software.
Although I am an agnostic, I believe that existence is miraculous and, for the most part, explicable. At the same time I also believe that, ultimately, all explanations derive from an indivisible mystery at the heart of existence.

Contents

Foreword
CITY STATES
Chronopolis
City States
Riot Command
Psychopolis
The Coded City
Control, Observation and Transit Anxiety

HOSTAGES OF CULTURE
Telephone Territoriality
Telephones and Intimacy
Aural Space
Power Phoning
Fax to Shredder -- The Evaluation of New Technologies
Advertising and Perception
Exclusive Surfaces
Fast Food
The Misapplication of Darwinism
Monotheism as Ant Trap
Atomic Jehovah
Biologically Determined Communities
The Triumph of Adolescence

INTIMATE STRANGERS
Capital Love
Imploded Couples
Relationships as Neurotic
Extramarital Relationships and Intuition
Sexual Intelligence
Multiple Successive Relationships as a Vehicle To Self-Transformation
Enamoration -- Love at First Sight
Infinite Sexual Variation During Long-Term Monogamy
Aging and Sexuality

THE PLANET'S DREAM
The Extrication of Self
Consciousness
Disowning the Self
Random Behaviour and Personal Growth
In Defence of Narcissism
Delusions of Privacy
The Fiction of Identity
Morality as Handle
The Immaculate Perception
Short-Term Reality
Time, Being, the World and Visual Agnosia
Free Will
Incremental Phenomena
The Dark Source: Ethical Fuel and the Mid-Life Crisis
Play
Style and Intelligence
Associative Constellations and Memory
Ghosts

SLEIGHTS OF MIND
Sleep and Dreaming
Dreams
Dream Physics
Transitional States of Consciousness at the Verge of Sleep
Neuroses and Dreams
Cinematic Techniques as Utilized in Dreams
Sleep-talking, Wet Dreams and Atonia
Dream Narratives and Rock Videos
Daydreams
The Distortion of Dreams During Recall
Dreams, Water and the Unconscious

POWER DREAMS
The Unconscious
Demon Shadow
Cocaine and the Shadow
Peripheral Vision and the Unconscious
Sinister Determinism
Paranoid Schizophrenia
A Reinterpretation of Freud's Dream of "Irma's Injection,"
the Phenomenon of Involuntary Rumination in Memory
Recall, Fliess, Turbinate Bones, and Freud's Psychosexual
Theory of the Neuroses
Projective Convergence and Crowds
Emotional Gyroscopes
POWER DREAMS
1. The Royal Road to the Unconscious
2. The Bremen Incident
3. The Voyage of the George Washington
4. The Munich Collapse
5. Jung's Heresy
Psychoanalytic Pioneers Who Lost Their Minds
Nietzsche's Doctrine of the Eternal Return

GROUND OF THE IDEAL
Editor as Psychotherapist
Paranoia and Art
Artistic Integrity and the Critic
The Natural Path of the Artist
Profundity
Writing
Shadows of Thought
The Muses
Literary Style
Compositional Style as Pathology
Speech Mannerisms and Literary Style
Coeval Poetics
Semantic Displacement in the Poem
The Poem's Missing Mass
The Poem as an Artificial Intelligence
Etymology and Poetry
Getting It Wrong: The Origin of Poetry in Parapraxis

SHADOWS OF THOUGHT
Language
Fitting the Language Prosthesis
Language Acquisition Trauma
Reference and Reality
Names
Representation and Control: Nominative Authority
Idiosyncratic Lexicons
Etymology
Words as Adapters
Words
Syntax
Synonymic Redundancy and Teleotropism in Sentences
The Breach of Intention in the Narrative Economy of Time
Wind-Roses, Etymological Tunnels and the Paradigmatic
Axis
Consciousness as Metaphorical
A Periodic Table of the Tropes
The Transformative Power of Dialogue

CONCRETE TECHNICAL REALITY
Mountains, Nietzsche and Aerial Landscapes
Mountain Silence
Seeing the Wind
Water
Objects Are Occasions
The Breakdown of Uniqueness in the Microverse
Time and Randomness
Time
The Uncanny
Deoxyribonucleic Acid
Life Units
The Spectrum of Life
Statement of First Principles





Chronopolis

The city is a time mosaic. It is a living archaeological
aggregate of forgotten civilizations, of periods within decades, eras within centuries. The city is a simultaneous matrix of cultural empires, of invisible districts and regions. It is an infinitely graduated series of fashions and habits in which the individual is simply another arbitrary designation, a border that dissolves into the nested identities of the metropolitan psyche. Layers of prior styles, architectures and entertainments fade incrementally, one into the next, superimposed finally in the simultaneous levels of a protean urban vortex.
The city is spotted with islands, culs-de-sac of time where a previous decade, a prior century, stands untouched. A 1914 newspaper lying yellow on the floor of an attic cracked open for renovations. The heraldic limestone gates of the waterfront expressway. The tired hands of a middle-aged waitress, her movements a choreographed testament to an identity unchanged over thirty years, her make-up identical in the bathroom mirror each morning, a gestural fossil of forgotten fashion. The impassive stone faces at the summit of old bank towers, stoic trade deities of the early thirties staring into a future that has come and gone. Abandoned transfers from a night-bus lying in the early morning light.
Brazilian children run through the market crowds on a summer evening. Dusty sunlight through an old streetcar window on the first warm sunset in February, the streetlights flickering on, purple against the incandescent gold of the bank towers. The first breath of wind from an approaching subway train not yet audible or visible.

Back to List of Works


All text and images copyright © Chris Dewdney (All permissions reserved)