Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hole

I don't usually review books that aren't fiction, but this Fable, THE HOLE, is about reality, like the best of fiction. It's by a psychologist, Bruce Derman, who spent almost a decade meditating on the root cause of man's unhappiness--The rejection of emptiness. Derman specializes in combative couples and people struggling with all kinds of addiction and sees facing the Void as a root cause of many problems. And confession-time, though I know it's a bit of Quixotian task, I'm working with this book (p.r for authors doesn't quite make the rent) because I was touched by this modern fable. It's a story as familiar as childhood nightmares and as old as human existence. And like Alan Watts, or the Buddha, Derman may be right. Are we all avoiding the Void, the emptiness we fear? Is all our running around and texting about not dealing with reality --that this is part of life? Derman says loneliness if felt in direct proportion to not accepting emptiness. I've been thinking about that.
Derman's everymen are Dirk and Dawn, a young couple who have achieved the life they believe they deserve. They are attractive, well employed, and live in a home perfectly attuned to their status and good taste, with beautifully polished wooden floors. Their relationship is about mutual admiration. Then one day Dawn sees a hole in the floor and worries that it will upset Dir, but hiding it from him becomes impossible as their distaste for thehole results in it becoming bigger. She Dawn is a Pleaser, she covers it up but it continues to widen. Dirk is perturbed as the crack in their perfection widens. When it can't be covered up any more with rugs or rearranging furniture, theyhire contractors and try to fill the hole but it's bottomless. Then with the pressure of living with it, there's a crack in Dirk and Dawn's personal facades and their images of pleasing and perfection become a distant memory. They begin to argue and bicker, until they hurt each other and ask for help. Like all the best fables, a strange little man comes to the door and seeks to guide them in the wisdom of holes, if they will enter it and learn to accept it. This triggers all their distrust and terror and the descent begins. They face many dilemmas, eternal darkness, a place without form, the dread of powerlessness. Ultimately, they come to accept the nature of the bottomless pit. Going through the fear, says Derman, to acceptance, means you find out who you are inside--you get love, passion, power. And you stop wearing yourself out trying to fill that hole from the outside. So all the possibilties of life are accessible. I liked this. Now if I can get my son to read it, instead of watching horror movies, that would be useful. But he's 13, so running from text to text fills up a lot of emptiness...