"Soul describes the elusive element that infuses existence with meaning, vitality, authenticity, beauty, deep desire, real character. Soul is that unmistakable fire that infuses all truly creative endeavors and sends the shiver up the spine, telling us we're in the presence of lived truth," writes editor Phil Cousineau.
For over 20 years, this poet, screenwriter, and adventure travel guide has been gathering classical references, myths, legends, poetry, literature, and contemplations about soul. The result is an eclectic anthology of 130 selections ranging from ancient to modern times.
As in any collection of this kind, the material reflects the special interests of the editor, which in Cousineau's case translates into a delight in mythology, soul music, and arcane sources. In the excellent introduction, he muses upon soul's bountiful links with desire, imagination, dreams, character, charisma, religion, death, and the underworld.
The readings are divided into seven sections. "The Fall of Soul into Time" probes the origins and further explications of soul from sources including Aristotle, Rudolf Otto, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ray Charles.
"The Seat of the Soul" focuses on what Cousineau calls "the soul's dimensions, its metaphorical power, its hidden dream doors, its inhuman scale and the confusion between mind, body and soul." The cartographers here include Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Teresa of Avila, Walt Whitman, Jacob Needleman, and James Hillman.
In "Heart and Soul" love is the emphasis with passages by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Milan Kundera, and Pablo Neruda. "Soul Crisis" charts the deleterious results of loss of soul and modern examples of soullessness in culture. Contributors include Albert Schweitzer, Alice Walker, Sam Keen, and Greil Marcus.
"Soul Work," the strongest section in the book, consists of pieces by Robert Bly, Thomas Moore, Paul Zweig, Alan Jones, and others on the revitalization and renewal of soul. "The World Soul" examines passages on the ensouling of the world by Kabir, Robert Sardello, and Valerie Andrews. The final section, "Soul and Destiny," assesses the journey of soul in the afterlife with selections by Socrates, Rudolf Steiner, Mircea Eliade, and Emily Dickinson.
The intent of Soul: An Archaeology is "to provoke the active imagination of readers into wondering what images express their own ideas of soul." This anthology on the soul's origin, manifestation, and destiny will open new doors for adventurous readers.