The Myth of the Enlightenment: Essays

The Myth of the Enlightenment

By Frederick Glaysher. Hardcover. $30.00. ISBN: 9780982677834. Preface. Earthrise Press, 2014; 2024 Edition. 230 pages.

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Fourteen years in the making, The Myth of the Enlightenment is Frederick Glaysher’s first collection of literary essays since The Grove of the Eumenides in 2007. Divided into three sections, these essays and reviews were all written during the 21st Century, with many of them central to his evolving intellectual and spiritual struggle to write his epic poem, The Parliament of Poets.

These essays open up Glaysher’s own biography and his life-long interest in the writings of Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, John Milton, Saul Bellow, Robert Hayden, and other poets and writers, offering a fresh, new vision for literature and culture...


Reviews

"In short this is a book I'll be returning to for the rest of this year and no doubt afterward. I'm glad it exists and I'm grateful for the wisdom it sends my way." —Laurence Goldstein, Department of English, University of Michigan

“In an era in which the value of human life has become as precarious and narrow as the study of the humanities itself, we need Glaysher’s voice more than ever.” —Phillip M. Richards, Department of English, Colgate University author of Black Heart: The Moral Life of Recent African American Letters

"It is clear to me that Glaysher’s scholarship, his poetry, and his hopeful vision of Unity among people of all lands remain grounded in ever-dawning encounters with the Divine." —Bob Dixon-Kolar, Department of English, College of DuPage

"This is a marvelous book of eloquent essays by Frederick Glaysher, one that honors the old literary masters, East and West, while exploring the deepest corners of spirituality and its implication for ameliorating the conditions of modern humanity. Reading each essay, whether it be Rabindranath Tagore, Saul Bellow, Tolstoy, or Robert Hayden, as examples, feels like entering into the secret chambers of the writer’s consciousness struggling “with what is universal in the human being”—struggling to express the universality of the human spirit:

Now more than ever, after centuries of falling down into the bottomless pit of nihilism, the world needs to recover the vision of universality, what the great religions and people of various centuries and cultures have in common. For all too long, humanity has obsessed with what distinguishes and separates, what divides people from one another, setting up our little racial, nationalistic gods and idols….Universality embraces all persuasions and transcends them. That is the great challenge.

"This quest is, as Glaysher clearly reveals, the never ceasing search for creative unity to which he and many others have given over their life, through their thoughts, words, and actions. The essays in this book aim for the author’s highest vision; that is, an attempt to “embody and represent the fullness of human reflection,” an inclination intended not just for academics, but a voice for all, and one that speaks to our time. And to that end, Glaysher has allowed himself to draw “from the soil of literature and culture whatever they need to produce and sustain their fruit.” In talking about his relationship with Robert Hayden, Glaysher tells us, “his own poetry had worked its way deep in to my consciousness.” I cannot think of a better way to describe how this book impresses itself on the reader; if there are millions of people waiting for a sign, as Allan Bloom is cited as saying, then this book is assuredly evidence of what such a sign looks like." New Consciousness Review, Portland, Oregon

"Whilst comparatively divergent in their make-up and composition the essays in The Myth of the Enlightenment form an enjoyable collection of insightful and erudite commentaries on spirituality and the nature of being human. At times the essays reveal the author's clearly deep emotional and philosophical beliefs and the passion that oozes from out of the text is thoroughly commendable. ...this book opens up some potentially fascinating and educationally rewarding terrain. The Myth of Enlightenment is a rich tapestry of insight and personal reflection which many poets and lovers of a free world will gladly embrace." Spirituality Today, UK

"Frederick Glaysher is a man of passion and commitment to both poetry and classic literature. His immense knowledge on these subjects reveal themselves throughout the collection of essays contained within his book The Myth of the Enlightenment. It is a pleasure to absorb his perspective in a wide range of issues, both spiritual and political, through this book, and his observations on such subjects as democracy in China and race issues in America are interesting. As a book that weaves its way through a lot of terrain it will be enjoyed by those who like to take philosophical commentary one piece at a time. Recommended reading!" Mr. P. J. Morris, Amazon UK


Contents

Contents

Preface ix

I The Myth of the Enlightenment

“Of True Religion” by John Milton 13

Tolstoy and the Last Station of Modernity 17

Leo Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad 30

The Poet’s Religion of Rabindranath Tagore 33

Tagore and Literary Adaptation 55

Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein—Closing of the American Soul 60

Decadence, East and West 66

The Post-Gutenberg Revolution—A Manifesto 83

The Quantum Physics of the Soul 97

The Search for Universal Spirituality 101

The Universality of One World 115

Tolstoy’s Universality 121

II Reviews

The American Scholar and the Decline of the English Department 129

Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair 136

Fang Lizhi and Human Rights in China 138

Bitter Winds, Indeed 141

Global Tragedies of Our Own Making 144

John Ellis, The Breakdown of Higher Education 146

III Interviews, Epic Poetry

Interview of the Author of The Bower of Nil 157

Aristotle’s Poetics and Epic Poetry 165

My Odyssey as an Epic Poet: Interview 169

A Socratic Dialogue on Rhapsodes and Peace 179

IV Race in America

Robert Hayden Under a High Window of Angell Hall 193

Robert Hayden’s Angle of Ascent 206

A Courageous Man and a Brilliant Book 212

White Guilt. Shelby Steele 213

Reawakening the Dream. Shelby Steele 216

The Quest for Cosmic Justice. Thomas Sowell 218

Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Thomas Sowell 220

Winning the Race. John McWhorter 225


FROM the Preface

For over three-hundred years, civilization has been under the sway of the Myth of the Enlightenment. While the Enlightenment initiated a highly beneficial movement away from autocratic government and religion, a stifling reliance on past authorities, accompanied by an ever-increasing scientific and practical development, very early on stress and cracks began to be felt in the structure of the psyche and society. The twentieth century witnessed those cracks transmogrifying into crevasses of gaping and violent proportions, often circling the globe.

The last few decades have borne all the more testimony that the Myth of the Enlightenment has become part of the problem and no longer sufficiently comprises what is needed to resolve and heal what civilization is suffering from.

Speaking broadly, to reach the imagination of the entire culture, the cultural richness and plenitude of the humanities are essential and must include all of the religious and wisdom traditions. Story, myth, and drama reach the deepest into the psyche, as Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, among others, understood, as they had learned from the greatest works of art and myth that were in fact at the core of their own studies.

Science cannot alone heal the divide that it, too, suffered as a result of the upheavals of the seventeenth century and modernity, though quantum physics suggests a transition of worldview. Neither can literature and the humanities alone heal the wound of civilization. It can only be done together, an act in itself that at last demonstrates the divide has been crossed, dramatizing it, as it were, for all to understand...