Communion Of Dreams

The metaphysics of presence

Excellent essay. Excerpt:

I venture that when it comes to the best of these paintings, mammals have never been rendered better in the history of our species. These are the paintings of people who looked at mammals for over 30,000 years — far longer than all of recorded history combined. I was seeing visual wisdom, the hard work of looking and taking the time and trouble to make exact renditions of what one watched. Looking at these images, I began to know things we don’t know anymore but still know in our bones. I felt the narcotic power of this naturalism, what Norman Bryson has called “the metaphysics of presence.” I gleaned the carnal pleasures of painting textures, surfaces, and fur in variable viscosities; the vision of a world unfolding yet held in exactly these moments, and not framed by drawn lines but within geology.


Jim Downey

“This book is a comfort. This book is a public service.”

That’s how a new review of Her Final Year opens. Here’s another bit:

The caregiver puts up with that out of love and decency. This book describes these things in the form of daily and weekly accounts as well as diary log pages of personal fear and depression and exasperation and recurring bubbling senses of humor. I loved this because it made me cry and it made me laugh. It’s not all drudgery. It’s hysterically funny at times. But it wouldn’t be funny at all if you didn’t love the patient. This is a book of love…


So often people see the words “Alzheimer’s” or “dementia” or even “care-giving” and just move on, thinking that the book (and the experience) is nothing but darkness and depression. And yeah, there is darkness there, but to borrow a phrase from Communion of Dreams/Heidegger:  “That which emerges from darkness gives definition to the light.”

We’re coming up on the three-year publishing anniversary (July 15). If you haven’t yet read Her Final Year go ahead and do so. If you want to wait a month, the Kindle edition will be available for free download around the anniversary.

And if you have read it, please consider posting your own review on Amazon or elsewhere. It helps.

Thank you.


Jim Downey

Tip-toeing to the top of the volcano.

Tomorrow we’ll launch the Kickstarter for St. Cybi’s Well.

* * * * * * *

I listened to the rebroadcast of the Radiolab show “Emergence” this noon hour, as I had a nice salad. From the show description:

What happens when there is no leader? Starlings, bees, and ants manage just fine. In fact, they form staggeringly complicated societies–all without a Toscanini to conduct them into harmony. This hour of Radiolab, we ask how this happens.

What it’s investigating is the phenomenon of emergence; that is, of self-organization or spontaneous order from a chaotic or non-ordered system. A lot of people think that intelligence and consciousness are emergent properties.

* * * * * * *

Since the beginning of this year when I launched Communion of Dreams, almost 20,000 people have gotten a copy of the book. In the years before that, as I was working to try and get the book conventionally published, between 35,000 and 40,000 people downloaded the earlier version of the book.

And all along I’ve benefited from the help of many people in getting out the word about CoD. Thanks. This has quite literally been a case of being outside of my control. The wisdom of crowds, indeed.

* * * * * * *

From Communion of Dreams (first shows up in Chapter 9):

“That which emerges from darkness gives definition to the light.”

* * * * * * *

Tomorrow we’ll launch the Kickstarter for St. Cybi’s Well.

It’s been a very long slog through a range of mountains, with highs and lows. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve learned a lot. Some of it I have shared. Some of it I still need to come to understand.

And this last bit has been like climbing up a volcano, one I’m not sure is actually active, though I have seen signs of life in it. I’m almost afraid to look over the rim and down into the crater. Yet I am drawn to the heat, to the light, to the power of the thing.

Tomorrow we’ll launch the Kickstarter for St. Cybi’s Well. As part of that, Communion of Dreams will be free to download all day long. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, please do. And tell your friends to do so.

Thank you. Thanks to all of you. For helping me make it this far.

Jim Downey