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What Is “The Soul”?

September 29, 2015

Obviously I don’t know; but it’s a key question for this novel, which will have to go unanswered. Or at least there won’t be a definitive, exhaustive answer. Maybe lots of people know what the soul is, and I just haven’t read their thoughts. At any rate, the narrator of this novel (moi) doesn’t know, but thinks about it often, and thinks that it’s important.

The idea is that the soul is the key to our understanding of the psychopathologies of American democracy.   Without the soul, imagining its way through this mess that we call Homo sapiens, we wouldn’t have the psychopathologies. (Maybe we’d have something worse, but this would be science fiction instead of a political novel.)

But I do think that we can do some meaningful thinking about the nature of the soul. I’m worried about what seems to me to be a lack of interest in the soul these days. It seems like the soul used to be mentioned more often, but now people talk about the spirit, or more likely, the “spiritual,”—probably because they need that as a counter to the “gross materialism” (Thoreau) that dominates American culture.

I take it that Thoreau was referring to his neighbors’ tendency to put more value—much more value—on material things, i.e. things as material wealth, than on the soul and the spiritually rich life that the soul makes possible, as it imagines its way through Being in the form of nature (the truly “material,” matter, things, such as a pond, a bird, the light on a spring morning, an apple, an Homo sapiens person, and all such). Indeed, too often his neighbors were willing to sacrifice soul-filled life, true materialism, in order to accumulate material wealth, turning things into soulless objects, music into gold, which they obviously preferred. Most people wanted to be multithousandaires, living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

“Gross materialism,” as distinct from a soulful, imaginative valuing of things, deeply injures the soul in the individual and the community, and stimulates dying.

So, how does the soul navigate an environment like that one?

By using its imagination.

[Page 2, and page 3, and likely there will be more.]

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  1. What Is “The Soul”? 3 | tomkoontz

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