Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bytes of Blake: A Review of Douglas McDaniel’s 23 Roads to Mythville

In the vast, multi-layered landscape of My Space, it’s easy to get lost. Overwhelmed. As I navigate endless pages of avatars looking for Kindred Spirits, Wise Ones, Ether Inspirations, and new readers, I sometimes wonder just why in the hell I’m wasting my time. As I plunge deeper and deeper into the ice-cold cybersea or walk further and further into the tangled forest of ads, angst, and often false appearances, I search my mental pockets for the crumbling crumbs of bread that may lead me back from the witch’s house that I know I’ll one day find.

The best I can do while I’m out there is find some worthy artists to read and review.

I “met” poet and essayist Douglas McDaniel through an e-mail he sent me about a Blog I had written concerning the Illuminati. After surfing his My Space I ordered his book 23 Roads to Mythville, a collection of autobiographical and other essays dealing with the nexus of Spirit and Technology in this new age.

The language and rhythm come at you at an accelerated rate in some fine rapid-fire wordsmithing, reflecting the author’s energy and drive in talking about the topics that most move him (curiously, he refers to himself with an impersonal, third-person “McDaniel”). Even when he is using a lot of jargon and “spiritual vocabulary,” for lack of a better phrase, he writes with an overall clarity and style that doesn’t leave the reader behind.

The book looks at Progress and Growth both personally and on a Universal scale, mostly against the backdrop of the cyberspace revolution. I see the author as a not-quite-middle-aged Seeker who makes his journeys both physically (driving cross-country from Colorado to New England) and internally. He links both of these journeys to the ever-expanding leviathan of the Internet and the invisible tendrils that link lovers and strangers who are plugged into it.

Part of his journey is in pursuit of the Sacred Feminine in the form of physical love, which recalls to mind the novels of Mel Matthews, all of which I have had the pleasure to read and review. After a marriage based on youthful naiveté falls apart, the older, wise man goes in search of something Greater.

Enter the Sacred Feminine.

All of the stories/essays in the book are multilayered and tied into the main themes I’ve already discussed. Along the way McDaniel talks about the Illuminati, William Blake, MMO gaming, the cyber explosion, the necessity of multi-tasking, and his personal experiences of it all.

I also enjoyed the recurring story of three bored New Englanders who find and fire an old cannon.

If you are a fan of such modern thinkers of the mythological/spiritual as Robert Anton Wilson and Joseph Campbell, there is much here for you. I especially recommend the final two essays, “The Rise and Fall of the Human Search Engines” (those of you who need to Google yourself just to see where your creative works are winding up need to read this one) and “William Blake in Cyberspace.”

23 Roads to Mythville is available through lulu.com. You can learn more about Douglas McDaniel at his MySpace page (appropriately): myspace.com/mythville

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