by David Eide .

There is much I've forgotten that keeps confusing my present state. All the influences that played on me when I was younger, for instance. I only have a faint memory of what these specific influences were. The general memory is fairly easy to conjure up.

I was certainly influenced by psychology, though I'm believing the influence was not that healthy. Having an active imagination threw me into the domain of the "unconscious" which has come to be the province of psychology. I was not freed because of psychology. All it did was set up other determinants and manipulated my natural imagination. I took it as truth that when people claimed that "god" was in the unconscious that this was basically true. That both god and devil were essentially projections from the unconscious. This was the claim. I'm more of the opinion that the connection ancient people had with God is contained in the unconscious. Not "god" but the vital connection with God. This leaves one in a rather haphazard place. For if one has the vital connection with god that originated in ancient times, then all the organized attempts by the churches, priests, creeds, and dogmas seem superfluous. And for the simple reason that the connection with god is more vital. One feels the spirit in this state and intercessors of any kind become a hindrance. For a time, this is so.

Or when one is in a moral vacuum, morals, ethics, communion with others seemed unnecessary, even dangerous to the vital but still tenuous connection with the energies of life. Then the necessity for value comes into play. At least one looks at the churches and sees they've done this and this and the other thing. But they've done it in a manner that has decayed and ossified. One can leap to the Christ spirit. Psychology has a continual value as a social science but to give one's soul to it? And who is the social science for really?

For many years my own mother was in psychoanalysis. Through psychoanalysis she was encouraged to paint. By painting she became interested, not only in art, but philosophy’s "general questions." Psychoanalysis unlocked that part of her that had gone unfulfilled for so many years. She later married a psychologist, an academic as well as a practicing psychologist. Just the fact that she had Alan Watts books and books of art hanging around the house when I was growing up had an influence.

Psychology also gave me an interest in anthropology, especially that anthropology related to ancient gods and beliefs. The works of Eliade, Campbell, and Frazier come to mind. They were (with the exception of Frazier) influenced by Nietzsche who was also an influence. Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Kafka. These three had tremendous influences on me for the way they were able to portray the character of the soul. The soul in its quest for God through the heart and through the mangled abstractions of the mind.

Even before this influence there was Jefferson and Thoreau. When I was a boy Jefferson was my hero. John Steinbeck inspired me as well. In Dubious Battle was the first novel I read with that attentive grace in which the reader is consciously participating with the writer. I also read many magazines and books when I was a boy; spy, adventure, and science fiction books that remain with me in some unconscious way.

* * * * * * * *

There comes a time when you question all the damnable reading you've done. Perhaps I have an American distrust of intellectualism. I don't have a great desire to acquire leaps and bounds of knowledge because I know how futile the ambition is. It's grasping after the impossible which makes it so attractive when young. It's easy to get addicted to the energy of reading. When I read I am conscious of the thematic structure of the author, his heart, his large prejudices, how many elements he is playing with, how the language is used, the definition given certain terms and the like. If it were in my power I would bring knowledge back into the realm of the knowable tool, taken by the hands that had been browned and knarled in the sun from working with that tool. The consequences, otherwise, seem all bad.

At the bottom of many books is a vanity that is more instructive than the contents of the book. One can tell a great deal about an age simply by smelling the seeds at the center of anyone's work. It really doesn't matter whether it's a book or a corporation. Anything that is condensed with a great deal of energy in it will relate the age.

The writer has a fabricated personality but it lags far behind the creative that slips through its fingers until one day its jarred out of its clever complacency and sees the terrors it has been abandoned to. So one asks, "how is it to live with this Self? Haven't the psychologists determined that the Self is a gruesome, filthy, murderous thing at the bottom of it?" And on reflecting one sees that it is so only in certain conditions, only when it is reacting. When it is truly acting it moves in wonder and magic. We view writing as a true act.


Back to Essay Page

Back to

© 2014 David Eide. All rights reserved.