STARDUST, TB AND A HOLE IN THE WALL

When, like David Clement-Davies and Abrams editor TB, Neil Gaiman had a failed relationship at a publisher, according to word on the street, anyhow, he luckily did not suffer an equivalent calamity, but turned it to the magical novel Stardust. There are very telling points in it about an author’s intrinsic understanding of the realms of the psyche and imagination, as real to writers as the ‘real’ world, sometimes. First the old man, the classic guide figure in myth, suddenly turning in fright to that hole-in-the-wall he is guarding, and there must be a wall between the ‘two worlds’, and saying he always thought he had been defending the magical kingdom from humans, but actually they really weren’t so nice ‘in there’ either. The extraordinary forces inside the psyche, the potential shape of everything there is, perhaps, are often not very nice at all. But actually its most beautiful element is when that shining Stardust of true beauty and courage blazes with light, to protect her Man and King. So driving out all the forces of hate, control, jealousy, bad magic, age and death, to restore the complete and beautifully human, and confirm life. Like the ending sequence in the film ‘Altered States’, about the human male regressing to the wild and animal. The hero in Stardust learns that the source of his rejection in the human world was not good enough, and wins the archetypal feminine instead. It brings to mind a line from the Jungian psychologist Frank F Johnson though, about how incredibly powerful it is when a woman, active and understanding, does not run in judgement or fear from male anguish or rage, but can stand inside the eye of that potential storm and simply love. But then of course the love has to be real and the man has to be on the right journey too, to ‘capture’ the strength of true goodness and restored balance, and shine again with a burning and magical idealism. We are not archetypes, we are complex people, though we project images onto each other all the time, but anyone who writes into myth believes that those archetypes are real forces too, that can have both shattering and enormously creative consequences.

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