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On New Years Eve Day, I received a double dose of reality. Two newsletters had just arrived, and I read both of them all the way through at one sitting.

THE HIGHTOWER LOWDOWN told chapter and verse about recent police riots in Miami, our police state's attempt to squelch completely all protest at a recent globalization conference. The mainstream media, both print and TV, provided the sovereign citizens with a total blackout of coverage of the terrifying story.

THE WASHINGTON SPECTATOR gave more details than a sensitive person would want on the Bush administration's ongoing attack on the poor in this country, including plans to cut back on Headstart, a program which has been universally acclaimed as one that works over time in lifting people out of poverty.

All that reality was a little much for one who is often accused of being negative, of seeing too clearly how bad it is, and then trying to speak up, blowing ordinary conversations to smithereens and making essays unpublishable in this intellectual climate. "Tell the truth -- and run!"

So, for this rant, I have decided to dig deeper, or rather, let a friend of mine do so. I'll attach a review I wrote of Uncle River's new book, PROMETHEUS THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY. I offered it to NEW MEXICO MAGAZINE, but they have informed me that it won't be appearing in the magazine.

River is a writer, a recluse, a hermit, a Ph.D.-holding Jungian psychotherapist, who spends his time thinking, thinking mostly about the prospects for our species. The book is heavy going, but worth the effort. Here's my review

Crossquarter Publishing Group, Santa Fe, NM 164 pp., $13.50

For those readers who have ever wondered, with reference to The Whole Thing, "What the Sam Hill is really going on?" this meditation can provoke some serious thinking. River expatiates on almost everything, at considerable length, in the voice of an immortal Titan with a Catron County rancher's accent: hunters, farmers, warriors, mothers, overpopulation and ecological failure. Some of us know perfectly well what's been going on -- it's trouble, serious trouble, right here in River City, and our feeble and pretended attempts to tend to it, someday, maybe, say in 2010 or 2025, make all of us look ridiculous. We still care more about profits, even someone else's profits, than about water, air, forests or soil.

The book is a retelling of many ancient myths, retooling the archetypal themes of compassion, gift, envy, revenge, pretense and deception -- all those merely human things we all do. Prometheus tells us how we got into this mess, and suggests that we put our heads together, use our brains to solve problems rather than exacerbate them, and learn to cooperate and be helpful to one another.

The question before us is, "How shall we organize the next AION?" [Age, as in "New Age"] -- we're entering a new one. The last two have been organized and regulated by naked Force, symbolized by Zeus, who is Prometheus' enemy. An age lasts about two thousand years and each one is named for a sign of the Zodiac. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Before Zeus, the world was ruled by the Fertility Goddess, organized by ceremony, which guaranteed the fertility of newly invented agriculture. Part of the ceremony included the sacrifice of the king in spring rituals. Zeus represents the rise of enough sense of ego for a king to be able to object to the sacrifice.

But here we are at the end of two AIONs of power plays, and it is obvious that naked Force no longer works. The population rates in Spain and Italy indicate that Popes no longer terrify. The quagmire in Iraq proves that power, bombing, "shock and awe" no longer effect the changes intended. Firepower alone is inadequate for solving problems. Our 20,000 nuclear bombs do not make for effective dominance and rulership of the world.

So, how shall we organize ourselves in order to survive in the New Age? Prometheus, whose name means "foresight," doesn't know. That provides some delicious irony on River's part. Prometheus suggests that something like what we sometimes, but not always, mean by "love" could help us transcend ego. He suggests "relationship" or "relating," but is not precise about it.

The writing verges on the opaque in places, but sparkles when River allows his own personal life experiences to be Prometheus' also. Both the them are simply trying to figure out what our human prospects are.

There is much to chew on here, and for those who want more than Lit Lite, this is highly recommended.

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Copyright © 2004 Harry Willson

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