Descent to the underworld

Last year, while taking a break from working on a philosophical book about activism, sovereignty, love and the gift economy (Alchemy of Revolution), I spontaneously decided to start writing a fictional memoir (Journeys Between). It’s in the form of a diary-like travel monologue that is both about literal trips and about a metaphorical journey from depression to becoming awakened – though for reasons that become clear as the narrative develops, either of those terms are accurate or fortunate. It begins with a trip to Romania, where childhood traumas emerge through flashbacks, and moves to Morocco, Russia, India and California, where my encounters with Sufism, shamanism, theosophy and yogic philosophy are dramatized as meetings with persons, rather than being described conceptually. I’ve been hesitant to share it because it seems too autobiographical, despite the fictional conventions, and too dark – especially the first two journeys, which are based on my journals from 2011-2012. After abandoning it for 6 months, I woke up with a strong desire to start working on it again, and decided to begin by reworking and posting the fragments I like the most. This is the third entry from the journey to Romania. On one level, it’s about a trip to an actual place (an underground salt mine in Slanic Prahova); on another, the entire first journey is an allegory of a descent to the underworld, which is a common theme in different mythologies. (more…)