Henry Gray - A Good Friend From Childhood

-- OR --

The Importance Of A Life-Culminating Tome 1000s Of Pages Long

Describes my relationship, as an eight-year-old, to Henry Gray's, "Gray's Anatomy." Argues that the book possesses a serious, non-trivial, life-culminating quality. Argues that the book is a massive testament to human achievement; that the book is heavy with "mana" and knowledge. Describes how I hope to write a similarly dense book; but in my case, the book will be directed toward spiritual realization, not human anatomy.

Cultural Criticism - November 11, 1998

I recall that when I lived in Illinois -- I must have been in second or third grade at the time -- I used to carry around with me a copy of "Gray's Anatomy." My mother bought it for me because I had said that I wanted to be a brain surgeon when I grew up. Most people are familiar with the book. It's a couple thousand pages long, with dense, microscopic print describing, in Latin, every part of the human anatomy. The book also has hundreds of serious-looking, meticulously crafted anatomical sketches.

To a third grader the book is a profound, incomprehensible tome. I carried it with me on all car and plane trips. Frequently I went to bed with it. But I would never actually read it. I barely even browsed it. Its dark, massive inscrutability depressed me. The sketches were bleak and severe -- and the text even more so.

But I loved the book nonetheless. It represented a reservoir of latent, thick, heavy knowledge. "Gray's Anatomy" was mana to me. Physically, it was heavy. Visually, it was dense. Intellectually, it was mysterious. It hinted of something great and profound. It was a rock, an artifact of massive human achievement. I felt a deep emotional relationship to it. It's heaviness and mystery enlivened me in a most fundamental manner.

I look back on my relationship to "Gray's Anatomy" as my earliest experience to give rise to my wanting to create a similarly vast, dense, and profound text of my own. There is a serious, non-trivial, life-culminating quality to such a book: It's a testament to human tenacity and brilliance.

When I was older, especially in the fourth through eighth grades, I loved reading the thousands of pages of fairy tales, Oz, and Middle Earth books. I remember checking out three or four thick fairy tale books at a time from my school library, devouring each book two or three times over with rapacious, sustained hunger. I lived in those books, and those books lived in me. I had a shelf in my bedroom for Oz books. I loved every one of them. I would stand for minutes, just looking at the row of over a dozen titles, dusting and straightening the spines, meditating on the stories contained in each one. I had read each book five or more times.

There was something revolutionary and developmentally profound about my relationship to fairy tales during those five-or-so years. It set something -- gave shape and life to something -- deep inside of me that brought about a permanent change to my psyche. I think it had something to do with making my relationship to the material world one that is shaped -- or even controlled -- by my imagination. That is, it would forever be the case that my imagination -- my capacity to aspire toward things that my mind envisions -- would always have the upper hand in all my dealings with the world. Perhaps it's called faith, or the strength to dream even in adverse conditions -- but whatever it was, it provided a foundation by which to steer myself and to gauge all my future actions in the world.

I hope my creating a text or series of texts that details how my mind thinks, and what my experiences have been while on this spiritual path, will function for others in the same way as did the anatomy and Oz texts for me. I want to create a vast, sea-like accounting of myself that others can immerse themselves in, just as I did those fairy tales. The only change is that the referent -- the developmental phase for which the text is intended -- will be different.

Immersing yourself in Oz does not necessarily lead you to radical politics, egalitarian social philosophy, and spiritual insight. But it should. The systems of the world are complex and disenheartening. It is important that people have a vision of how the world should be, and work and live toward that dream. The comprehensive, childlike beauty of Oz and the deep mystery of Middle Earth should be felt in our newspapers, our work places, our governments, and our intimate relationships. To the extent that our world falls short, it is our duty to reconnect with the beauty, insight, and passion of our younger years and apply them rigorously and repeatedly to our social systems.

It is to this end that I dedicate this dense, growing body of work of mine. I hope it has the honesty, intensity, and inherent charm required to do the job. It's about connecting our self-consciousnesses to the spiritual condition that surrounds and infuses us. It's not enough to simply dream -- we must intellectually and physically apply our aspirations.

The covers from two different editions of "Gray's Anatomy." Mine was a soft cover with the same illustration as the first picture.

2016.5.29. Comment.

Within days of my kundalini awakening I dedicated my life toward writing a new Bible. I had never "read" the book. A page here, a verse there, never as a "believer." I found the book to be antiquated, parochial in its views, and lacking in accessibility and relevance to the modern era. That had always been my impression. It wasn't so much that I personally needed this mission. My awakening came about as a resolution to a prolonged crisis regarding my life's meaning and purpose. The volcanic "kundalini" energy frequently overwhelmed me. For the sake of my sanity, I needed to dedicate my life to something. I needed a cause to live for. I arrived at the idea of writing a vast book that people's values and existential orientations could be guided and transformed by. This website is my personal "Gray's Anatomy" or Tolkein universe. It may not be as immersive, but I hope it has some good effect. Some day I hope to take a sampling of my best entries and publish it as a hard copy so that this transmission of knowledge can be held in your hands -- tangibly worshipped, if you will -- as I did the tomes of Gray, Rand, Baum, Tolkein, and many others.



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