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Posted November 6, 2007
For people who want to learn more of the way of Tao this is an outstanding book! For other people- It's just funny. Comparing Elvis' words with Lao Tzu and other monks this book makes you realize Dao more with Elvis' translations. Each chapter contains a few (6 most of the times) sayings, then a nice little paragraph. Each chapter has a focus on something love, determination, etc.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 30, 2002
David Rosen's book reads like a meditation. He begins with two questions: 'Why does Elvis' popularity persist?' and 'What does that say about our culture?' He then addresses these questions through a series of devotions centered around Taoist concepts. There are 42 devotions, one for each year of Elvis' life. <p> Dr. Rosen is clear that his objective is not to diagnose Elvis - as trying to define such a mythic figure would be like (in Lao Tzu's words) trying to 'pin a butterfly: the husk is captured, but the flying is lost' (p. 145). Like the Tao, Elvis is a mystery full of contradiction. He is elusive. And Rosen suggests that the contradictory images of Elvis are not only what keep him alive for us - they have the potential to be the source of our own healing. The book is a compassionate work that seeks to restore this cultural icon - not through revision (e.g., trying to show that Elvis was on some path of enlightenment and made it) but rather through understanding that in the archetypal Elvis lies our own struggle with duality. (Rosen focuses mainly on the double-edged quality of the King archetype - how it can function either as a channel to the divine or a destructive mechanism for the one who tries to live it out.) What I like about this approach is that it emanates from a belief in the possibility of redemption - for Elvis and for us. For while 'wholeness' (a Jungian ideal) may not have been achieved by Elvis in his lifetime, we can, in a sense, make him whole by finding meaning in his suffering (something he was not able to do himself) and by living according to what we learn. <p> Rosen uses technical terms derived from depth psychology (particularly Jung and Winnicott), e.g., archetypes, true self, false self, creative soul, shadow, and persona, but doesn't provide much explanation (although the uninitiated reader should be able to understand the concepts generally on the basis of context). As this is not a scholarly work but a meditation I think his approach makes sense. However, as a psychotherapist, I would like to have seen more text devoted to the process of individuation which Elvis, according to Rosen, was not able to complete. (Personally, I think Elvis' individuation is a failure only if we think of individuation as a completely linear process. As Rosen writes, Elvis vacillated between positions of insight and self-destruction - and this is likely what accounts for our ambivalence toward him: he is both the talented hero/rebel deserving of admiration and an obnoxious caricature who evokes disdain or pity. Perhaps there is wholeness in that.) For example, toward the end of the book, he writes '... Elvis felt there was little he could do to change. Of course, he could have done something, if he'd only been willing. He could have channeled his rage into killing his false self, then undergone a symbolic death of his self-destructive self and rebirth of his creative true self ...' (p. 145). But this is the first mention of Elvis' rage and it isn't altogether clear how this process could have transformed Elvis. Such a quick treatment may give the reader the mistaken impression that Dr. Rosen thinks this is an easy achievement (perhaps owing to his modesty, he does not mention that he has written extensively on this process in another book, Transforming Depression: Healing the Soul through Creativity, although it is in his bibliography). And if we focus too much on Elvis' failed transformation, it is easy for us to miss one of Rosen's main points: that an awareness of our own weakness and vulnerability is the fountainhead of empathy. Elvis had this awareness (at least some of the time) along with a great capacity to care for others. <p> The quotes are interesting and fun, from myriad cultural sources - including Elvis himself - ranging from the popular (John Lennon, Bono, Bruce Springsteen) to the religious (Lao Tzu, Thomas Merton, and Martin Buber); however, my favorite passages were those in which Dr.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.