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the soul takes an action.” This vision grounds the book, but the text is enlivened page-by-page by Bly’s flyingspark readings of “Iron John” one sees a great reader and great teacher, as if engaged in active performance. Here, for example, he interprets one moment in the story, the boy transformed by staring into the Wild Man’s spring: We can consider the possibility that the boy in our story sees some personality in nature looking back at him, and that is why his head turns gold. We don’t know. All the story leaves us with is the image of the boy looking into the water, and we can make of it what we can. It’s an old image. A boy sits by :a pond. Most of us recall from Greek mythology the better-known scene in which Narcissus sits by his pond. Narcissus has already become separated from his male hunting companions as the story opens. That is interesting in itself. It turns out that Hera is also angry at him, and has sent a nymph called Echo who repeats each of his words as soon as he speaks them. Narcissus is bottled up inside his own circuits. When he looks down he falls in love with his own face. The boy in Iron John’s pond, guided or protected by the Wild Man, does not fall in love with his own face, but sees through the eyes to the consciousness in nature itself. He breaks free, so to speak, from his own circuits, and that is an important difference between the stories. At each point in the tale, Bly draws on his own wide reading and experience, thus enabling the tale to draw energy from history and more importantly, to put energy back in. Certainly, Bly’s interpretations allowed me to understand my own upbringing and experience in a new light; Iron John itself is a kind of mentoring by the shaggy poet, for his readers. Some of the reaction against Bly’s work apparently results from a mistaken feminism, which considers him to be defending an indefensible patriarchy. He rejects that idea: “This book does not seek to turn men against women, nor to return men to the domineering mode that led to repression of women and their values for centuries. . . . We have defective mythologies that ignore masculine depth of feeling, assign men a place in the sky instead of earth, teach obedience to the wrong powers, work to keep men boys, and entangle both men and women in systems of industrial domination that exclude both matriarchy and patriarchy.” This is not “matriarchal” thinking, but neither is it any form of misogyny. It is an honest and worthy attempt to attend to an historical and cultural crisis, as it affects men: “The grief in men has been increasing steadily since the start of the Indus trial Revolution and the grief has reached a depth now that cannot be ignored.” If you have read no Bly, I would not begin here. Do what Bly calls “bucket work” spend some time with his Selected Poems, and find a home in your mind for his deeply medi tative and powerful lyrics. They are the best preparation for this book; then read slowly the whole “Iron John” tale which is printed as a final chapter, before backing up and following the poet on his journey into the wilderness, and out again. If read willingly and without preconceptions, this Fbook brings gold to the spirit. ATHERS AND MOTHERS is a collection of various pieces derived from roughly the same tradition as Bly; indeed, a different version of a Chapter Four of Iron John, “The Hunger for the King in a Time with No Father,” is the first essay. The book as a whole is less immediately accessible than Iron John, and will likely be, primarily of interest ‘to scholars and serious students of Jungian psychology. But as its title suggests, BY STEVEN G. KELLMAN DEFENDING YOUR LIFE Directed by Albert Brooks THE MARRYING MAN Directed By Jerry Rees THEODORE MELBRIDGE: THE SILENT GENIUS Directed by John McIntyre and John Moynihan HIS REMINDS ME of Disneyland,” says Julia \(Meryl station for deceased earthlings while their future status is being weighed. It is an anti septic urb whose permanent residents are bland and beaming, where trams transport newcomers to pleasant hotels whose lobbies are bedecked with the sign “Welcome Kiwanis Dead.” In immaculate guest rooms, the TV Weather Channel announces that the skies are forever fair. The wickedest activity in Judgment City is eating, but gluttony is no longer a deadly sin when newlydeads are en couraged to eat as much as they want with out any consequences. Julia dines on three pounds of pasta, while her companion is served 30 shrimps and nine pies. Nothing can Steven Kellman is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio. it casts a wider net than the Bly book, including various approaches to father and mother archetypes and depth psychology. The selections range from historical/theoretical pieces by Jung himself \(“The Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype,” a Erich Neumann, to current scholarly developments by James Hillman, from whom Bly draws much of his own approach. But there is a range of approaches and subjects, including a journal selection from a mother/practitioner Mary Watkins; a psychological reading of “The Step-Mother in Fairytales,” by Jackie Schectman; even fiction by Ursula K. LeGuin by the editor, Patricia Berry, a re-examination of various neglected aspects of the mother archetype: “What’s the Matter with Mother?” On the whole, the book is useful as an advanced anthology on the continuing fruitfulness of archetypal analyses, which is perhaps a way of admitting that the gods have not left us, after all. They have no where to go. upset the stomach, except memories of the life just lost. Like It’s A Wonderful Life, Ghost, Always, Heaven Can Wait, or, for that matter,’ The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost, Defending Your Life is really less about the afterlife than about what comes before. When, on his birthday, advertising executive Daniel Miller drives a brand-new BMW convertible into a bus, he finds himself in a place that resembles a celestial theme park, and the theme is determining how well the life was lived. After each mortal cycle, our lives are reviewed, and a court decides whether we can move on to higher states or else return to earth. Daniel, who has already passed through 20 prior avatars, is summoned before two genial magistrates, and, with the aid of defense atto counter the critique of prosecutor Lena nine days of his life, she argues that Daniel’s life was crippled by fear and that he is not yet ready for anything better. Daniel and the other newlydeads are called “little brains,” on account of the fact that mortals utilize a mere 3 percent of cerebral capacity, while for big-brain Judgment City citizens like Bob and Lena the figure is closer to 50 percent. Daniel is in awe but also in a funk. “I just came from a world filled with penis envy,” he explains. “Now I’m in a world of brain envy.” The problem is that neither Judgment City nor Defending Your Life provides much evidence of intellectual prowess. The world that Life Histories 20 MAY 3, 1991