THREE JOURNEYS: An Automythology by Paul Zweig

THREE JOURNEYS: An Automythology

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Paul Zweig is a poet and author of The Adventurer (1974), which reflects the fascination the idea of adventure holds for the diminished modern mind. In this personal triptych, a sort of groping autobiography in images, it is just such a diminished, slightly petulant ""I""--terminus of both the romantic and existentialist experiments--which becomes both the hero and the only landscape of adventure. The first ""journey"" is the journal of an actual auto trip across the Sahara, to which the writer felt Obscurely driven by the sense of a corresponding emptiness in him. self but which left him unsatisfied. No wonder, the reader wants to shout long before Zweig himself admits it: his intense self-preoccupation with the meaning of the desert has shut out much of the actual experience. The second section probes back in time to explore the sources of Zweig's inner Sahara, in childhood and in a period of youth and political fervor spent in Paris. Most of this part is dense, exquisitely narcissistic prose poetry, crowded with obscure private landscapes; perhaps because it's written in the third person (""the boy""), it reminds one absurdly of an inverted Mailer, effete rather than pugnacious, wanting to be Poet not Pugilist, but still trying to write a literary persona around an empty center--and, in rare, relieving flashes of humor, aware of it. In the third section, Zweig surprises himself by laying his empty burden at the feet of Swami Muktananda, whose sheer presence reveals to him that every self--not only his--is a fiction and that emptiness is energy. This part, far more clear and direct, touching in its surrender, is also pure literary Rennie Davis; Zweig's precious private odyssey merges into the banality of a whole generation finding in Bliss the solution to suffocating self-preoccupation.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1976
Publisher: Basic Books