The Televisionary Oracle (2/5)

The full text of The Televisionary Oracle has been released online by the author and is available at This review is based on the trade paperback released in 2000.

I saw this book at Borders a couple years ago and although RAW has a blurb on the back of it, I decided that I wouldn’t enjoy it. A couple years later, I heard about it again and the image on the cover finally persuaded me to buy the book.

It seems that Jesus and Mary Magdalen (a reincarnation of Persephone) were partners – not only in the sexual sense, but in the spiritual and philosophical sense as well. They were collaborators set on destroying the myth of the solo hero. However, the Church purged the holy writings of Mary except as a hooker with a heart of gold.

The Pomegranate Grail (aka the Menstrual Temple of the Funky Grail) believes that Rapunzel Blavatsky is the latest reincarnation of Persephone, fulfilling the ancient oracle that forecasted her return and woman-kind’s deliverance from the evil patriarchy – she has come to kill the apocalypse that has been made inevitable by the patriarchy’s mis-steps.

The text has multiple sequential narrators: The Televisionary Oracle itself constitutes every odd-numbered chapter and the rest are split equally between Rapunzel and a “sacred entertainer” named Rockstar.

If I had read this book when I was younger and less critical, like back when I first read Illuminatus!, I think I would have really enjoyed it. Now that I am older and have some serious reading behind me, I had trouble finishing it.

The mind-numbing New-Ageism spouted off by the Oracle itself are so sappy that you wonder at times whether he overdoes it on purpose, but the tone feels honest and it is difficult to find any hint of mocking, despite at times being playful. Luckily, all of these chapters are fairly short.

Brezsny says on his website that his goal was to write Rockstar as a “Macho Feminist”. Instead, he has written an apologetic wuss, who is calculating and dishonest in his feminism. In his attempt to steer clear of what Rockstar calls “a whiny form of humble vulnerability… enforced by shame and guilt” he instead writes a character whose internal dialogue is consistently at odds with itself, and too rigorous.

In fact, Rapunzel tells Rockstar that his words are masturbatory and takes him to task for being a poseur. In most works this would be the point where the character takes stock of himself and works for change, but Rockstar really never does anything concrete that convinces you that he has gotten past this. As a character, Rockstar does not grow very much, though from the story you would think that Brezsny was trying to convince us that he has.

Rapunzel is a much more likable and realistic character and if the whole book was narrated by her, I would have enjoyed it much more than I did. She tends to be dismissive of over-reaching arguments and the Us vs. Them approach to feminism, instead recognizing that a consensus must be reached between the sexes.

The introduction of Madame Blavatsky inexplicably brought with it a more practical feel to the story when she appears to try and help foster a “devine dementia”, but the concrete character of that chapter quickly fades into a vague supporting role. Jumble’s appearance again promises an interesting and unique supporting character, but Brezsny ultimately fails to flesh out Jumble properly and Jumble’s relationship with Rapunzel degenerates to a clunky tenderness.

This is not to say that the book was a waste of time. Breszny can turn a fine phrase, and I lifted several quotes from the book for future use. Also, as I said above, the early Rapunzel chapters (multiples of 4) tell a very good coming-of-age story about finding yourself in the midst of a rabble of people telling you who they think you are/should be.

As far as Discordia goes, there is no overt mention of it, though many of the themes, such as destruction necessarily preceding rebirth, a brief mention of the pineal gland as a third eye (or Televisonary Oracle) and a passcode declaring, “I am a holy cabbage-head!” are reminiscent of Discordia.

The imagery he conjures is also very Discordian – for instance, Abraham Lincoln does not give Mother Teresa a hickey in just any old book. Constant references to Jung, “treasure in the trash”, and of course a revolution of the mind also suggest Discordia.

Many of my negative feelings about the book are due to my personal politics. When I was younger I would have agreed that if the world was run by women it would be a better place, but as I have grown older I have engendered much more doubt that we would be any better off than we are now. Male aggression would be replaced by female aggression or emotional rainbows and we would be in a situation similar to what we are in now. In my experience, the number of stupid males and stupid females are fairly equal.

Exceptional members of both sexes are what is needed to “kill the apocalypse” and such people are of course hard to come by. Until the bar is raised and today’s exceptional becomes tomorrow’s ordinary, you can continue the apocalyptic countdown; in the meantime, no amount of New-Age Word Capitalization Techniques will save us.

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