That’s a word I haven’t seen for fifty years, even though it’s written through everything I’ve done like Blackpool in a stick of rock. I used to be very fond of the whole catabatic deal, now it seems it’s been very fond of me. We’ve grown together.
Hi kaggsy: Jung, “no aimless and purely destructive fall into the abyss, but a meaningful katabasis eis antron, a descent into the cave of initiation and secret knowledge”. Most of my stuff goes: catabasis refused but somehow undertaken anyway. Lately less a fall than an evident pratfall.
Interesting that you can go on a catabasis and an anabasis at the same time, considering one as a descent to the underworld or to initiation, and the other as a journey to the interior…. Perhaps they are always taken together?
Hi Miramon. Looking at “Cave & Julia” I see something like that. Geographically Cave’s journey to the plateau is an anabasis, but it’s clear that whatever happens to you there, you end up back in the sea. But then so many different journeys are refused & taken in that story (& in Empty Space, with which it has relations). Same goes for the new book, which suggests an actual, if weird, anabasis & has a chapter entitled “The Inland Cities”.
When I was younger everything–writing or life–was very much about refusing the initiation, refusing the culture that constructed the hoops & mazes, pushed you through the door and said, “Now run.” Left me with a lifetime distaste for Joseph Campbell, who tried to lock us all up in his monostory. Campbell & Rand, major architects of neoliberal metaphysics.
Interesting, thanks for the response. Eager to see the new book when it arrives.
Your reply leads me to consider different conceptions of what an initiation represents. For me the word typically connotes something unusual and exotic, like the initiation into a mystery cult. But of course the notion of initiation into adulthood or into participation in mainstream society is more central. I suppose that refusing to paint for the academy or to write for an editor’s conception of the popular reader is like refusing to take one’s bar mitzvah or filing as a conscientious objector in a way.
And perhaps entry into the Eleusinian and Dionysian mysteries was as pervasive for a certain class in ancient Greece as school graduation is today and youth of the time rebelled against such humdrum fuddy-duddy ritual obedience.
“The sun at midnight? Give me a fucking break. It’s dark out.”
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