Solid ground for philosophical explorations.

The Nomads' Labyrinth

In an attempt to understand the shamanic drum, primarily as used by the Siberian Sami culture, this philosophical tome dives into theories of ontology, epistemology, art history and ethnology.

A brief anthropological overview describes the drum as a tool for communication between nomads and the reindeer that were critical to their survival, as well as the knowledge a skilled shaman could use to develop wisdom and healing techniques for his community. But Gomez’s analysis becomes theoretical and essentialist as he compares the ontologies of Martin Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze to those of Plato, Aristotle and René Descartes in order to formulate an idea of the drum as a piece of equipment—“ready-to-hand,” as Heidegger might call it—that exists in the context of a world with structure and language. This type of discussion continues through dozens of great thinkers and ideas, yielding a grand analysis of the human condition and of Western versus nomadic thinking, as if a theoretical understanding of it all were necessary to put the shamanic drum into its proper context. Gomez rejects both a Freudian explanation of the shamanic journey as a psychological process occurring purely in the shaman’s mind and an Eliadian explanation based in visual imagery of the shaman’s ascension into the sky. Gomez’s frame for the journey is that of the shaman traveling through an information-rich, tactile soundscape of overtones and assumed animal identities, experienced by shaman and the nomadic community as a smooth transition between different worlds related by their proximity to one another rather than a striated jump between inner and outer worlds. Gomez’s style is lucid, well-organized, linear and academic, and his guide could serve well as a textbook for a graduate seminar. But for most readers, the wait for these insights may be too long, and the path is burdened by the volume of its proof as much as it is grounded by it. Spiritual seekers hoping to find a firmer conceptual grounding for modern shamanism—stronger, perhaps, than that provided by New Age favorites like Michael Harner—might find this reading much too difficult for the reward. Similarly, the Western academic focus, the relative dearth of information derived from actual discussions with modern Sami and the lack of photographs of real drums or analysis of their specific designs will disappoint readers looking for a more robust understanding of traditional shamanic culture. Nonetheless, deep thinkers who crave a real-world example around which to contemplate the nature of human existence will find ample food for thought.

Solid ground for philosophical explorations.

Pub Date: May 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1480064751

Page Count: 606

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2013

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THE WEIGHT OF GLORY

The name of C.S. Lewis will no doubt attract many readers to this volume, for he has won a splendid reputation by his brilliant writing. These sermons, however, are so abstruse, so involved and so dull that few of those who pick up the volume will finish it. There is none of the satire of the Screw Tape Letters, none of the practicality of some of his later radio addresses, none of the directness of some of his earlier theological books.

Pub Date: June 15, 1949

ISBN: 0060653205

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1949

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REFLECTIONS ON THE PSALMS

Internationally renowned because of his earlier books, among them tape Letters, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis making religion provoking, memorable and delightful is still more latest Reflections on the Psalms. Though he protests that he writes learned about things in which he is unlearned himself, the reader is likely thank God for his wise ignorance. Here especially he throws a clear lightly or not, on many of the difficult psalms, such as those which abound with and cursing, and a self-centeredness which seems to assume' that God must be side of the psalmist. These things, which make some psalm singers pre not there, have a right and proper place, as Mr. Lewis shows us. They of Psalms more precious still. Many readers owe it to themselves to read flections if only to learn this hard but simple lesson. Urge everyone to book.

Pub Date: June 15, 1958

ISBN: 015676248X

Page Count: 166

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1958

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