And here we all are together, here we are

Shikasta by Doris Lessing is the refined version of her earlier Briefing for a Descent Into Hell. She has stripped away the visionary excesses, and improved on the core idea: Cosmic forces look with frustration on the state of the Earth, and send emissaries to be born onto it to make it better. But they often get distracted and lose their way, trapped by human corruption and confusion.

The Earth was once psychically linked with Canopus, our cosmic superiors, and everything was bliss. But the link broke, and all went bad. Canopus creates religions to guide us, but they always deteriorate. As the 20th century ends, Earth’s diseased materialist culture collapses in a nuclear holocaust.

Shikasta is humanity seen through the glasses of the worst of 60’s/70’s theory and spirituality. Western culture is explicitly inferior. Science is just a religion. Material well-being is pointless. Canopus often comes across as arrogant, ignorant and, through association with all religious founders, evil. Unintentionally, I think.

But I don’t care. This is brilliant. I can’t mock it, I would feel small. It’s as if Lessing deliberately plays the part of a New Age mystic, saying “you’ve seen what others have done with this role, now look what I can do with it”. And she uses this premise to explore the missed potential in all of us. To dissect, reprimand and inspire.

Shikasta is not a novel. It is prophecy, in the Old Testament sense. Doris Lessing is Jeremiah. And Jesus. And the Buddha. I’m in awe.

One Response to And here we all are together, here we are

  1. Pingback: Ny Tid, nr 6 2010 « Bjørn Stærk's Max 256 Blog

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