Investigating the Collective Mind in Visionary Fiction – guest post by Warren Goldie

Inga cover 10I wrote my first novel to explore several concepts that struck me as compelling and profound. The first of these concepts posits that all human beings are connected collectively at a deep psychological level, inaccessible to the thinking mind but which can be touched in higher or altered states of consciousness. Accessing this state is akin to what some religious and spiritual belief systems would call a unity experience. Carl Jung termed this shared reality the collective unconscious, likening our individual psyches to the spokes of a bicycle tire with the collective at the hub.

The second idea relates to locales around the globe that mystics and sensitives claim to be energy centers or “power points” via which inflowing energy animates our reality, and may even influence thought, belief and emotion. Some have speculated that the world’s most enduring belief systems and religions arose in the most powerful of such places (e.g., Jerusalem) and retain their influence due to this origin.

The third idea involves the remote viewing program that both the U.S. and Soviet Union operated during the Cold War years, recruiting and training mystics and sensitives to serve as “psychic spies.” A whole body of literature exists today detailing this now declassified program which claimed startling successes in the projection of consciousness to distant locales.

 

The Ah-ha Moment

When I came across The Celestine Prophecy and saw how James Redfield had woven together several metaphysical theories within a fictional adventure story, I recognized how I would tell my tale. Like Redfield, I structured the plot along the lines of the Hero’s Journey, so well described by the mythologist Joseph Campbell as a life-changing quest into the supernatural and back. I seeded my protagonist, an aimless college graduate, with my own experience of alienation growing up in suburbia and a desire for adventure. I created mystery around her father, a man whom she’d never met, who served as one of the remote viewers who had stumbled into Jung’s collective unconscious in an altered state, glimpsing unknown truths. The hero’s journey begins when his daughter finds an artifact he’d left behind and sets off on a quest to discover what had happened to him.

When I began work on the first draft, I had a feeling for where the story was going—kind of. My polestar, far off but in view, was that she would eventually connect with the legacy of her father, or perhaps with the man himself. As the story unfolded, it marched more or less in that direction. I didn’t know many details, nor what would happen when she arrived at the climax. The excitement was in the discoveries. Staying true to the hero’s quest, I knew she’d be called upon to summon her inner strength and surmount long odds, but other than that the details remained unknown.

I completed the novel and put it up on Amazon in 2014 and reader comments have been illuminating. It seems those who are spiritually “awake” or spiritually inclined are its audience, whereas those not particularly drawn to spirituality are uninterested. I had wanted the book to appeal to the mainstream but perhaps that possibility was lost right out of the starting gate due to the nature of the material itself. Or maybe it was my execution, which seems to appeal solely to “the initiated.” Along the way, I came to admire how the authors of visionary fiction works such as The Alchemist and Way of the Peaceful Warrior managed to make esoteric subjects accessible and enjoyable to mainstream readers.

 

The Quest for a Publisher

Early in the life of the manuscript, I found literary agents to represent it and the book made its way to a number of publishing houses. The very editor at Warner Books who discovered The Celestine Prophecy offered positive feedback but ultimately declined to take it on. Another publisher gave a verbal okay and I celebrated my success. Then that publisher changed its mind, citing the difficulty of selling metaphysical or visionary fiction, a genre for which no established marketing category yet exists within traditional publishing nor in traditional channels.

At one point the book found its way to the offices of a well-known Hollywood agent who read it over a period of several weeks, as I waited in anxious expectation. He then told me, unsurprisingly, that its appeal was for too small and specialized an audience. One editor said the reader who couldn’t “take on and accept the belief system” wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. That seemed to be a confirmation of what I had been hearing all along. Eventually, I took the self-publishing route, which has largely been a positive experience. In self-publishing, the writer retains the rights and control over the book and can keep it available online indefinitely.

What I had tried to accomplish in this novel was to breathe life into a world in which many of our dearly held beliefs (e.g., we are all one, there is a greater order at work, energy passes between people, the universe is benevolent, etc.) are alive and treated as real. It’s a world that many writers and readers of visionary fiction hope for, sense intuitively, and believe may exist beneath the noise of society and our lives. As in other works of visionary fiction, the hope is that the reader will inhabit that world for a time, exploring and being entertained, learning and adventuring, all within the bounds of a spiritually compelling belief system that may indeed reflect the ways things truly are.


 

Warren GoldieWarren Goldie was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a BS degree in biology at Towson University and has been a full-time writer for 25 years. Drawn to existential and metaphysical inquiry from a young age, Goldie pursued these interests through creative writing and a daily meditation practice. He has worked in Hollywood as an editor for Steven Spielberg and as a screenplay analyst. His essays have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, City Paper and Iowa Source. He was a featured playwright in Playwrights Showcase of the Western States and the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.

Waking MayaWaking Maya, visionary fiction by Warren Goldie

When Maya Burke digs up an old journal in her backyard, what she finds is a plan for a spiritual journey that leads her on a fascinating cross-country adventure of awakening.

WAKINGMAYA.COM

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25 Responses to Investigating the Collective Mind in Visionary Fiction – guest post by Warren Goldie

  1. libredux says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Warren. Yes, most VF writers come across this issue, namely that their fiction is considered too small a market to be taken on by a commercial publisher.

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    • Warren says:

      That's always baffled me because the market for personal growth/spirituality is so huge! The seminal VFA books all did fantastic. It seems to me there's room for a side shelf beside the non-fiction for the more imaginative examinations of those subjects.

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  2. Admin - Eleni says:

    You touched upon one of my favorite subjects along with two of the strongest influences in my writing. It’s interesting how closely related Jung’s and Campell’s theories work when observing human and societal mechanisms. I did a psychology paper on how Campells’s archetypes tie to Jung’s collective unconscious. When we objectively view what’s happening in this world, the collective unconscious is the most rational explanation of why we continue to play the same roles. Civilizations rise and fall from the same mechanisms. Plenty of fodder for the visionary writer!

    “…its appeal was for too small and specialized an audience. One editor said the reader who couldn’t “take on and accept the belief system” wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. That seemed to be a confirmation of what I had been hearing all along.”

    Great point. I’m a big skeptic of all things metaphysical, which may be surprising considering I write VF! When I wrote Unison, I found the plot impossible to believe, at first. Every point I doubted I massaged and reworked until I turned into a believer. In essence, I think my skepticism helps my writing, as it helps me write for the skeptic!

    Thanks for sharing your writer’s journey with us.

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    • Interesting points all. Thanks, Eleni. One of my favorite Campbell points is how so many cultures use the same stories and myths, even though they may be isolated and have never traveled far. How to explain that except through metaphysics? A wiring in the brain that causes distant peoples to create the same stories and symbols? Not sure I'd go for that…

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      • Am currently reading The Spiritual Universe, One Physicist's Vision of Spirit, Soul, Matter and Self by Fred Alan Wolf Ph.D. In it he makes the claim, and proves it with quantum theory, that there are no individual consciousnesses, but only "one mind, one consciousness" that we as individuals tap into. He notes, "Thus, when you learn something, in spite of the sense that your mind lies within your skull, according to this argument, it does no such thing. The pattern of that learning, if I may think of learning as a pattern, has no space or time coordinates."

        I come away from such deep thought, granted only partly comprehended, with the understanding that we have only started to scratch the surface of who and what we really are. Wolf's book is a tough slog for me, not because the elements of quantum physics are particularly difficult but because I have to clear away so many previously learned patterns that seem to contradict them. I believe that is what we are up against in attempting to make VF "popular." What Jung was talking about when he said about VF: "The reading public for the most part repudiates this kind of writing—unless indeed it is coarsely sensational—and even the literary critic seems embarrassed by it."

        Still, we carry on, as you Waking Maya certainly does, Warren. We are on the leading edge. The day will come when the reading public will hail VF authors as intrepid pioneers. A shame the plaudits may only come posthumously!

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  3. Bob Edward Fahey says:

    It is a world and a challenge many of us face. I am thrilled by all those who have called my own stories healing, and life-changing, but it would be nice to get them into the hands of a good many more folks in need of such healing. Still in all, though our audience be selecte, we must keep in that we are making a difference. Ours is an influence that will be felt for generations to come, and that is really what I at least write for.

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  4. esdragon2 says:

    Christopher Vogler also speaks of this subject as The Hero's Journey. He says 'The Hero's Journey and the Writer's Journey are one and the same…. writing is magic ..teaching children how to manipulate words; to spell. When you spell a word correctly you are in effect casting a 'spell'…charging these abstract symbols with meaning and power. Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural; on the borderline with telepathy ,,, Shamans like many writers are prepared for their work by enduring ordeals … They may have a dangerous illness or fall from a cliff and have every bone broken. They are taken apart and put together again in a new way.' Carl Jung, at great cost to himself, made his own important journey of discovery into that transpersonal part of the human psyche which dreams are the communicating doorways.

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  5. reanolanmartin says:

    Very interesting, Warren. Thanks for sharing your experience. It's really hard to know where 'to meet the VF readers', since they're all at different points in their awakening process. Best to just write our books from the heart (as you did) and see where they land. At some point VF will reach an inflection point, which I think VFA is helping along.

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  6. amoyaan says:

    Nice post Warren, I enjoyed reading your journey in getting this book published, its background and the ideas behind it! I'm def gonna check it out 🙂 It is an interesting journey finding a readership and sad that anything with a spiritual subtext is likely to put off mainstream audiences. I wish you all the very best 🙂

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    • Warren says:

      Thanks, Rory. I appreciate that. I think awareness in the world is rising rapidly, perhaps far outpacing awareness in the publishing industry 🙂 I was really blown away by how many millions tuned into the worldwide Oprah/Eckhart Tolle webcast back in 2009. It shows just how large the numbers of seekers really are.

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  7. tuilorraine says:

    Thanks for your post Mr Goldie.I enjoyed reading it and envy you having an agent. I had the most respected agent in this country and he was doing very well with my book until he suddenly died. I'd love to find an equally good replacement but not possible here in New Zealand. Do you have any suggestions for ones in your country?
    Do you know, I wonder if as VF authors we sometimes take ourselves too seriously? I've been guilty of this lately. Perhaps we neglect the powerful tool of humour too often. I was struggling to get the best voice for my WIP until I adopted a voice with a lighter heart and bigger laugh. It allows all the visionary principles to be as authentic as ever but is much more fun for both author and reader. The WIP is going along much more happily now. 🙂

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    • Warren says:

      Well, talk about making lemonade out of lemons – out of disaster and death comes humor and levity. Not to mention a VF work-in-progress with a "lighter heart and bigger laugh," which sounds great to me. Exploring the underpinnings of the world doesn't have to mean carrying the weight of the world. Congrats on making the work fun again!

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    • Good point re humor in getting a point across. Think Jon Stewart.

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  8. Now you've gone and added to my reading list. Who knows if and when the publishing world will open up to VF. Glad you put your book out there.

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  9. Bob Edward Fahey says:

    Well, it has been pointed out to me that my books (and probably yours) are not like anyone else's out there. That we need to create out own genre and readership as did Poe, Cervantes, and others. That our popularity will grow long after we are out of body. But that doesn't mean it is now worth the effort. The world still needs us; it just doesn't know it yet. – As for publishers not seeing the potential; it reminds me of that saying that a new scientific idea is often not widely adopted by the old scientists embracing it whole-heartedly. It must wait for the old guys to die off so the new can think, "Well now; that is interesting!"

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  10. D. Thrush says:

    Thanks Warren! I have "Waking Maya" sitting on my Kindle waiting patiently to be read. I look forward to it. My first book was also VF. Not surprisingly, it didn't sell well, and I followed with more mainstream books. I recently read "The Wheels of Samsara" which is a short VF novel. I wanted to support it as it only had one 3 star review on Amazon. It's very good and I recommend it. Let's support each other. There are quite a few of us out there, and we can put out good energy and perhaps turn things a little more in this direction.

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  11. I try my best to read and review as many quality VF authors as possible. Read something good, say something good. In the two years I've been with the VFA I've seen this site readership quadruple. We are making a difference.

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  12. Warren. It's amazing to me that your three concepts/posits so closely resemble concepts I deal with in my novels. That all human beings are connected collectively at a deep psychological level. That energy centers or “power points” may influence thought, belief and emotion. And that consciousness can be projected to distant locales. Yet, our stories are unique and completely different. I was told over and over that calling my work visionary fiction was the kiss of death. Yet no other genre fits what I, write. So I decided to call it what it is and stick by it. Therefore the need for what we do here at the Visionary Fiction Alliance. So glad to have you on board.

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    • Warren says:

      Thank you for the warm welcome, Margaret. Those concepts indeed are fascinating and it's great to know we have them in common. Years ago, when I read and considered the ideas in "The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events" by Jane Roberts I started having daily epiphanies. The chapter titles from that book tell all: Myths and Physical Events; The Interior Medium in Which Society Exists; The Medium in Which Physically Oriented Consciousness Resides and the Source of Events. The text seemed like an almost scientific or analytic exploration of ideas that were obviously beyond the physical realm, which I guess, makes them beyond the reach of science. So maybe it makes sense for us to explore them through art, each in our own way.

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    • I agree. My series is called The Power Places series.

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