High horse, part II (L:HtR/UtW)

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 10.18.53 AMWritten for lovers of literature interested in self-actualization, Literature: How to Read and Understand the World teaches readers how to derive principles of wisdom from literature and apply them to their lives. The book achieves this through a series of five essential steps, including identifying with literary characters, aggregating principles of wisdom from their experience, and applying those principles to readers’ lives. Along the way, the author reveals his own transformation through this process. Literature: How to Read and Understand the World will help you to enrich your life and world!

Over the next several months, I will be releasing excerpts from the book along with questions to keep readers thinking after reading the posts. If you are intrigued by what you read, please share with a friend!

If you have identified that you are on your High Horse, the next step is to ask yourself why, since this knowledge will help you to process your fears and move on. To structure a space to answer this question, create the following template of initial prompt and five spaces beneath it:

What I fear will happen if I ________?

I leave the prompt followed by a blank space because it is variable: if we are stuck at a particular character identification, the phrase here will usually be “if I write my way into so-and-so;” but if we are instead worried about finishing a set of character identifications in general, beginning our Psychic Mapping, or something other, the phrase can be adapted to describe that circumstance. For instance, in attempting my character identification on Gatsby, what I realized I was really afraid of was finishing my work on Gatsby the novel; Gatsby himself was the last character with whom I had to identify to complete my work in that novel, and Gatsby was the first of the five novels I read for this project. As such, I was terrified about what would happen when I finished the character identification; I would have to go on to discover a new step in our process of reading literature, something I was telling myself I didn’t know how to do. In this particular instance, my initial prompt read as follows: “What I fear will happen if I write my way into Gatsby.”

Answering the five prompts to follow is much like filling out judgements about a character in Antipodiatry; we simply let flow from our hearts what we are feeling in this moment, the only restriction being that we describe what we fear. These fears might—and usually do—go beyond the realm of the work of literature we’re reading; they generally pertain to ways we expect to damage our identity through what our writing reveals, usually in the form of loss. For instance, following are my five answers to the Gatsby prompt from above:

What I fear will happen if I write my way into Gatsby:

  1. I’ll find out I’m writing the book for someone other than myself
  2. I’ll know that I’ve tried to escape my inheritance
  3. I’ll learn that my starting capital is not my own
  4. I’ll see that my gifts are disingenuous
  5. I’ll see that I’m a criminal—I’ve stolen methods from those around me and am not giving them credit

As you can see, these sentences typically respond to the initial prompt of what we fear will happen with a set of uniform openers, such as “I’ll find out,” “I’ll know,” and “I’ll learn;” in line with this theme of discovery, they describe things we predict will happen in consciousness, revelations we fear will deal ramifications to our sense of self. For instance, my sentences on Gatsby imagine finding out that I, like Gatsby, have tried to escape my inheritance, failed to reconcile my privilege, and am currently stealing methods from others without giving them credit—the final comment applying directly to this book, illustrating my fear of myself as a hack.

Do you have methods of discovering the fears beneath your resistance? If so, what do you find is the effect of naming and articulating your fears? Do you have a different way of dealing with fear altogether, such as ignoring it? If so, how does that work out for you? Do you wonder why something like fear should even be an issue when reading literature!? For more on these topics, please follow my blog or grab a copy of the book for yourself.

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