In Praise of The Mummery Book

Read endorsements from:

Robert Lax (poet and author)
Robert Boldman (poet and author)
Geoffrey Gunther, Ph.D. (author and professor)
Frederick M. Dolan, Ph.D. (professor)
Philip Kuberski, Ph.D. (author and professor)
Kenneth Welsh (actor)

* * *

The Mummery Book is brilliant in all its aspects. It would be hard to express my happiness at the way it breaks and exposes the heart of the world. Living and working as a writer for many decades, I have not encountered a book like this, that mysteriously and unselfconsciously conveys so much of the Unspeakable Reality.

Robert Lax
Poet; author, Love Had a Compass,
and (with Thomas Merton) A Catch of Anti-Letters
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* * *

If Dylan Thomas and Buddha shared a soul, The Mummery Book is what I would expect from such a joining. The book transports the reader across an enlightened domain at the periphery of the rational, linear mind. If you open your heart to The Mummery Book, The Mummery Book will in turn open its heart to you.

Raymond Darling embarks on a hero's search for the Beloved, mediated by dreamlike, episodic dips into the archetypal waters of the unconscious mind-beginning with a first glimpse of the Beloved at a lake named God's End. Raymond finds, though, that she cannot just be claimed, she must be perilously liberated from and rediscovered within the realms of cultic myth and egoic obsession.

The Mummery Book is a vortex which, if you permit it, will enliven, awaken, and rejuvenate the soul not only of this mortal life, but the soul of every existence possible. The Mummery Book is lucid, wild, an unraveling portrait of ego-life and a radiant vision of transcendence, which pass each other on the heart's walk across the pages of this luminous book.

Robert Boldman
Poet; author of The Alchemy of Love
and Sacred Life, Holy Death: Seven Stages of Crossing the Divide
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* * *

This book pierces the mind with strange elation. The terrible beauty of the writing is stark and urgent. It confounds the ordinary mind while breaching the passes to something deeper. How?

The prose paints and chants while language buckles and soars; as if Gertrude Stein had met Ramana Maharshi, Joyce had a vision of St. Francis, Beckett had not got stuck where he got stuck. For this reader, any real comparison would have to go back to Hamlet or Lear. Death and the absence of love CANNOT be accepted. Life is not ordinary. No complacency avails. There is no escape from the divine drama of everything. An explosive mixture of pain and joy creates an apocalyptic heart-melting crisis.

The book enacts itself as you read it. The heart can hardly bear to confess it remembers such knowledge.

No easy read, we must say; a book that won't be finally swallowed or assimilated. This is our own drama.

Geoffrey Gunther, Ph.D.
Author of Shakespeare as Traditional Artist
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* * *

Avatar Adi Da Samraj's The Mummery Book is a most extraordinary novel indeed. While contemporary postmodern fiction claims to have assimilated the most daring philosophical experiments of the twentieth century, too many contemporary authors have forgotten the spiritual substance of these experiments, so that their literary works remain mere exercises in style. Without the slightest bit of scholarly pedantry, The Mummery Book is devoted to the real problem that engages contemporary philosophy and political theory: finitude, mortality, the critique of egoic subjectivity, and above all the affirmation of life in the face of its apparently tragic character.

Framed as an allegory, The Mummery Book employs innovative syntax and narrative strategies to challenge and disable the linear rationality that we are trained to bring to texts, and that the allegory form itself seems to invite, leading to a reading experience that is nothing short of explosive (the "real" world of power and need dissolves into a mere mummer's play) and revelatory (a new, ecstatic relationship to life is glimpsed).

Those familiar with contemporary philosophy will recognize methodological and thematic parallels with the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida, as well with writers of fiction who have been inspired by this work. But unlike most postmodern fiction, style here is in the service of substance, while remaining playful.

This is a book that one will turn to again and again for the insight and pleasure it offers.

Frederick M. Dolan, Ph.D.
Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
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* * *

The Mummery Book is obviously a book with many levels: an apparently na´ve level of narrative and poetic invention concerning Raymond, Quandra and his friends, inventions, followers and betrayers; an allegorical level that concerning coincidence of opposites, gender, and romantic love; a confessional level that seems to some extent private or esoteric, that concerns the education of a soul through a kind of platonic anamnesis; and a revelatory level (subsuming all other levels) concerning the nature of consciousness and how it is continually lost in the ongoing "mummery" of ego-constructed existence. This comprehensive level begins and ends as a confession of divine identification.

I cannot pretend to understand it all. The richness of thought and the play of fictions within fictions makes it difficult or impossible to establish a ground of the "real" and the "metaphorical." This seems intended to show us that there is no way of clinging to The Mummery Book: it is rather "like a Sea-shell,/Left,/by Me,/ for you to Find and Keep". It should be used as a means of realization-according to its metaphoric seashell whorls and challenges to The Mummery Book-consciousness of narcissus. It is in this sense that I see the parable as "postmodern"-it undermines the mimetic or representational authority that western tradition has granted to linear "realism" and its co-artifact, the ego.

The whole of postmodernist thought and practice knows nothing of what this book is concerned with. Still stuck in existential and absurdist interpretations of the "death of God" and the "transcendental signifier," postmodernists look lugubrious as they detail the various "mummeries": reality, history, the self, gender, because they have no idea that seeing through, if only in theory, the "constructions" of language and desire, could become an ecstatic realization, cosmic consciousness, bodhi. Indeed, I would say that many would look upon these things as suspiciously "apolitical" diversions. Postmodern narratives tend to feature either steely ironies in response to the loss of faith in society (the mummer's world) or to pick up political agendas for the redistribution of the mummer's costumes and routines.

I mentioned Stein and Cummings as stylistic parallels to The Mummery Book. Now it seems more Joycean to me: the story of Raymond Darling, in its lucid colors and fabulous imagery, reminds me of the short episodes in Finnegans Wake where Joyce demonstrates, in every way possible, the interpenetration of opposites, and the cyclical manifestations of "selves" throughout human history. The Joycean link is furthered when one considers the ways in which the text works with dreams, plays, music, poetry, stories within stories, plays on words, etc. Indeed, the central stylistic achievement of The Mummery Book seems to be its undoing of The Mummery Book of words: words ordinarily are deployed in books as serious and loyal ants, carrying their load of sense to their destinations. Adi Da's poetic inventions make words crackle and swoon, pound and soothe with suggestion and insistence.

Philip Kuberski, Ph.D.
Professor of English Literature, Wake-Forest University
Author, The Persistence of Memory,
and Chaosmos: Literature, Science, and Theory
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* * *

In The Mummery Book, Adi Da Samraj has created an astonishing work which, through a skillful weaving of mind-challenging techniques, seems to re-define the very essence and usage of the English language, in much the same way as Shakespeare restructured it almost half a millennium ago, and, it seems to me, for a similar purpose-to offer, through an autobiographical exploration, a heart-opening invitation to feel the human spiritual journey at its core.

With its unique, spare, and invitingly compelling rhythmic style, where words dance with colorful abandon, and are poetically refreshed with startling, mind-shaking effect, The Mummery Book comes even more alive when it is read aloud, just as Shakespeare's works were written to be seen and heard. While reading it, I find myself constantly urged to speak its brilliant cadences, which buzz my brain with new forms of perception.

Similar to King Lear, in which nothing becomes everything and everything is reduced to an essential nothing, I felt myself drawn into a world where Raymond perceives floors as ceilings, up as down, in as out, and as I follow his journey through fantastical visual imagery, such as in the barbershop chapter in which Raymond's past and future are seen reflected at once backwards and forwards. I felt the depth of this image in the same way that I feel Lear's epiphany in the moment when he perceives the shattering image of his, and our, past and future mirrored in the simple nakedness of Edgar in the hovel. The Fool and Cordelia are the shadowy aspect of Lear's journey toward's self recognition...Meridian and Quandra enhance Raymond's dreamlike passage towards enlightenment.

Just as I find fresh knowledge with each re-reading of Shakespeare's plays, no matter which work, each time I return to The Mummery Book and its masterful boldness, the way its words startle and surprise and cry out from the heart of its Creator, I feel blessed by its beauty and I am moved by the truth that pulses through its every image.

Kenneth Welsh
Actor-many roles on the stage, in movies, and on television;
Recipient of six Gemini awards for excellence on Canadian Television;
Honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta
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