Like Straw Dogs this is a thought provoking but flawed analysis of the human condition and, basically, explores the possibility of human consciousness being stripped of all illusion and fanciful mythic cultural memory and practise, and what sort of human would we be if this was achievable.
It's an ambitious project and worthy of attention for the breadth of the literary aim although, predictably, it becomes impossible to sustain and any early gains in the book are eventually lost about half way through, by increasing levels of obfuscation and meanderings. It continues at times to fascinate though and Gray is always a delightful if sometimes frustrating writer.
There are some very dodgy assertions at times though that only serve to make this reader wary of the overall analysis and his comparison of Freud and Jung is particularly weak- his overall dismissal of Jung disappointing in both factual and contextual terms. For example there is no evidence at all that Jung was a Nazi sympathiser, in fact much of the evidence points the other way, and Gray's attempt to paint him as one is a cheap shot. In fact considering the subject matter, a more in-depth appreciation of Jung's psycho-analytical approach to the human psyche would have been useful, rather than taking the contemporary, chattering classes Freudian position, but there you go. Overall though a good, stimulating read- albeit not up with the authors best- but still at times very rewarding.
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