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The Two Hands of God by Alan W. Watts

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Paperback, Good Condition, Never Read, Collkier Books, Fourth Printing, 1972


When the critical intellect looks at anything carefully, it vanishes. This is as true of the solid substance of bodies as of historical generalizations, of entities such as nations, of epochs such as the Middle Ages, and of subject matters such as myth. The reason is, of course, that "things" exist only relatively -- for a point of view or for convenience of description. Thus when we inspect any unit more closely we find that its structure is more complex and more differentiated than we had supposed. Its variety comes to impress us more than its unity. This is why there is something of the spirit of debunking in all scholarship and scientific inquiry. As a historian of science once put it, "Isn't it amazing how many things there are that aren't so?"

It is for this reason that no serious scholar will now propose any general definition or comprehensive theory of myth -- at least, not without making numerous reservations. Nevertheless, the word "myth" remains useful. It designates a class of things which we all recognize clearly enough, provided we do not try to be too exact about it. Under the microscope, even the clean edge of a knife becomes ragged. But the . . .

... is a fascinating exploration and exposition of the myths of polarity, those crucial symbolic relationships such as light and darkness...