iUniverse author John C. Woodcock’s insights on writing: Part 11

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In his previous article, iUniverse author John C. Woodcock mentioned his notion of the “burrowing spirit”, today he puts that into the context of his latest book, UR-image.

iUniverse The Imperative“The impersonal nature of the burrowing spirit was brought home to me by a dream I had many years ago. In this dream:

I am on a winding road in the country. I see a young woman throwing a boomerang in a field and it comes my way. I pick it up and throw it. This attracts her and she comes my way and joins me. We go by some animals and see a calf split off from the herd, alone and bleating for its mother. It is near a snake. The cobra rears up and it is golden and climbs easily onto the calf’s back. The calf can barely take the weight and can do no more than try not to collapse.

This dream frightened me.

The snake, as the burrowing spirit, when it enters the world, must rest on a foundation (serpent wrapped around the world, or egg, on a turtle’s back, tree etc.). But these animal aspects, as psychological realities, are today the most undeveloped aspects of the consciousness that gives rise to our modern Western culture. D. H. Lawrence is one modern writer who saw this issue but could offer only a literalized solution to it. He was not able to see it as a psychological problem involving the deepest levels of our modern consciousness.

It appears that our species depends on a certain development taking place quickly and this fact shows up as images of the young, weak, and immature. A huge transformation in consciousness is taking place, supported on a relatively weak base. Such a structure generates a feeling, on the human level, of being too young, bearing too much responsibility, being abandoned or let down by parents, left to assume responsibilities that one is not prepared for. All this appears in my dream, as it does in Dick’s Valis where the hero, Horselover Fat, is paired with feminine figures who are dying, ill, frail, and in need of “rescuing”, unable to cope.

In my case, although the situation was dire, there was also the possibility of the calf making it and growing into a mighty bull which can thus easily support the serpent. I held onto that possibility for many years as I slowly learned to assume the burden of the cobra.  The impersonal nature of the burrowing spirit can easily be seen in the fact that the calf was not special in any way. It simply met the criteria needed for the burrowing spirit to “get in” i.e., alienation, isolation, neediness, and therefore, availability.”

The philosophy of Owen Barfield


“I am now reminded of a little book that Owen Barfield wrote in which he encounters his version of the burrowing spirit in the form of an invisible visitor with whom Barfield enters discussions. At the very end of the book, Burgeon (Barfield’s literary ego) asks the Meggid why he was chosen by the angel. The Meggid answers simply:

“Have you supposed you are the only one? There are others, whom you will find, if you have not done so already…. The two holocausts have touched you comparatively lightly, the reigns of terror not at all…. Many would have been reached before you [but for the holocausts]. The area of our choice at present is not so wide.”

LighthousedownunderThroughout this riveting iUniverse Publishing blog series from author John C. Woodcock, we have explored the  thought processes and emotions that have driven him to write his latest book UR-image and in the final episode we finally determine this new “writing genre”.  To learn more about John, his books and his thinking, visit his website. To see all of his books visit the iUniverse Bookstore.

 For a fuller account, see Woodcock, J. C. (2011). The Imperative. Bloomington. IUniverse.
 Barfield, O. (1965). Unancestral Voice. Middletown. Wesleyan University Press.

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