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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Forays into literary nondual fiction by Floyd Henderson and others

My old friend Jerry has never been a fan of fiction that tries to be nondual. Too often, it's written by people who may have nondual insight, but who are terrible writers of fiction. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive, but anyone whom he'd read that had tried to meld the two had been unsuccessful.

Until now, maybe. In Issue #2800 of the Nondual Highlights, Jerry provides an excerpt from a novel by Floyd Henderson called The Board of Directors of Wars (see author website). It's a passage of dialogue, but the portion I'm including just has one character making a little speech to another. When taken out of context like I've just done, the passage sounds a bit like the proverbial discourse between a spiritual teacher and a student. But I'd be interested in reading the book if it's good. I think this speech is quite good.
“Well look at every drama you’ve ever seen. The main character, who represents you and me and everyone, runs around like a chicken with its head cut off. He is confused and in the dark. Those who are in a position to sit back and witness the drama objectively can see that he’s just an actor on the stage and that none of the drama is real. But for entertainment’s sake, he and the witnesses can pretend it’s real. Both, in fact, can get so absorbed in the role that they take it to be the real for a time.

“But even amidst all of the drama, a time comes, that moment in the play when even the actor finds out the truth. It is called the peripetia in drama—that moment in the play or the movie when the lead actor finds out that everything he thought to be true is really false; when he sees that he was being misled at every turn; when those he thought he could trust the most, and who thought they were telling him the truth, were also wrong.

“It’s the moment of freedom that comes when one finds out that everything he ever thought or believed or held sacred (or thought worth fighting for) was a lie. The freedom comes when he gives up all of the concepts he bought into, drops his head in relief and amazement, shakes his head back and forth, wonders for a moment at how he had bought into all their crap, smiles at how easily he was duped, watches how all of the rest of the play unfolds automatically until its end, and leaves the stage after saying to himself, ‘Well, sonofabitch. I’ll be damned.’ And then he laughs. He laughs at it all. And then he’s done with it, once and for all.”
The other excerpt of literary nondual fiction that Jerry included in the same Highlights is also worth reading. It's a short satirical piece about memoir writing, and it smacks (I think implicitly) of nondual understanding as well. The excerpt I include here doesn't do the piece full justice, but hopefully it's slightly illustrative.
Had I been satisfied with one memoir, it'd have been all
right. But I was infested with the memoir bug. I wrote
memoir, after memoir, each one more bizarre than the
previous one. And to my children's dismay, they all were
best sellers. And now, their friends stared at them with
knowing smiles.

So, I can't really blame them for doing what they did.
They found a judge to declare me mad. Now, in my cell,
I'm deprived of paper, or laptop. But the memoir bug
has not died. I'm thinking about writing a new memoir
on these bare walls. One in which neither I, nor they
were ever born.

But I'm having a little trouble finding anything to write
regarding such life.

(x-posted to nonduality)