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Transpersonal literature

Marrable, Joseph (2003) Transpersonal literature. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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What do you get if you apply Ken Wilber's theories of transpersonal psychological development within human consciousness to William Golding's Lord of the Flies or Conrad's Heart of Darkness, or Shakespeare's Hamlet? Can they provide a clear interpretative tool in order to uncover the intentional or unintentional aspects of consciousness development contained within them? Do these literary texts reveal a coherent quest for knowledge of human consciousness, the nature of good and evil, and the ineffable question of spirit? Is there a case for presenting a transpersonal perspective of literature in order to expound the theories of this psychological discipline? Can literary texts provide materials that are unique to that art form and can be explicated by knowledge of transpersonal psychology? Is there an evolutionary motion, which is not necessarily historically chronological but nonetheless displays a developmental map of human consciousness across literary works? In other words, can we see a hierarchical framework along the lines of consciousness development as proposed by Ken Wilber, that suggests a movement up the evolutionary ladder of consciousness from Lord of the Flies to Hamlet and beyond? Can we counter oppose Lord of the Flies and Hamlet, suggesting that the first is a fable of regression to transpersonal evil within a cultural community and the second sees Hamlet attempt to avoid this path in order to move toward the transcendence of ego and self, within the individual? If this is so then we should be able to plot both paths relative to the models of development traced in Wilber's theories and interpret the texts according to this framework. What is the relationship between transpersonal aspects of consciousness and literature? And what are the effects upon the cultural consciousness of human evolution that literature has had so much to inform? How do the literary works of individuals inform the cultural consciousness and transcend the age in which they are written? Equally we should be able to test the theories with the aid of some texts of literature - especially those works which are of, and about consciousness. What does this mean to the literary interpretation of these texts? How does it differ from other interpretations? What are the pitfalls and what disclaimers need to be put in place? Is the difference between the notion of a transpersonal evil and a transpersonal good simply a matter of individual moral choice?

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Frodsham, John
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