The Sibling Society

Front Cover
Addison-Wesley Pub., 1996 - Psychology - 319 pages
8 Reviews
In his phenomenal bestseller, Iron John, Robert Bly captivated the nation with the wisdom embedded in a thousand-year-old fairy tale, creating both a cultural movement and publishing history.Now, in Silbling Society, Bly turns to stories as unexpected as Jack and the Beanstalk and the Hindu tale of the Ganesha to illustrate and illuminated the troubled soul of our nation itself. What he shows us is a culture where adults remain children, and where children have no desire to become adults—a nation of squabbling siblings.Through his use of poetry and myth, Bly takes us beyond the sociological statistics and tired psychobabble to see our dilemma afresh. In this sibling culture that he describes, we tolerate no one above us and have no concern for anyone below us. Like sullen teenagers, we live in our peer group, glancing side to side, rather than upward, for direction. We have brought down all forms of hierarchy because hierarchy is based on power, often abused. Yet with that leveling we have also destroyed any willingness to look up or down. Without that ”verticle gaze,” as Bly calls it, we have no longing for the good, no deep understanding of evil. We shy away from great triumphs and deep sorrow. We have no elders and no children; no past and no future. What we are left with is spiritual flatness. The talk show replaces family. Instead of art we have the Internet. In place of community we have the mall.By drawing upon such magnificent spirits as Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Emily Dickenson, and Ortega y Gasset, Bly manages to show us the beautiful possibilities of human existence, even as he shows us the harshest truths. Still, his probing is deeper and more unsettling than the usual cultural criticism. He finds that our economy’s stimulation of adolescent envy and greed has changed us fundamentally. The Superego that once demanded high standards in our work and in our ethics no longer demands that we be good but merely ”famous,” bathed in the warm glow of superficial attention. Driven by this insatiable need, and with no guidance toward the discipline required for genuine accomplishment, our young people are defeated before they begin.It is the young and disenfranchised who are most victimized by the sibling culture, our children and out elders and those marked as ”not us” by race and economic circumstance. In a phrase common to the ancient stories Bly uses to illustrate his themes, it is these people who we all to easily ”throw out the window,” but it is also these disenfranchised who will be waiting for us on the road ahead to claim their due.A wake-up call, an inspiration, brilliantly original, The Sibling Society will capture the imagination and enliven our nation’s cultural debate as no other book in years.

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Review: The Sibling Society

User Review  - Sara Halley - Goodreads

At church today, a conversation in our Bible Study about the importance of reverence reminded me of this book that I read years ago. It articulated feelings I groped with and couldn't express, of the ... Read full review

Review: The Sibling Society

User Review  - Kevin Fuller - Goodreads

In 1996, one couild travel the world and find middle-aged men and women wearing the laid back GAP uniform of tee shirts and jeans or khakis, people who were largely like one another, regardless of ... Read full review

Contents

with a Large Appetite
8
Swimming Among the HalfAdults
44
A Hindu Story
67
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Robert Bly lives on a farm in his native state of Minnesota. He edited The Seventies magazine, which he founded as The Fifties and in the next decade called The Sixties. In 1966, with David Ray, he organized American Writers Against the Vietnam War. The Light Around the Body, which won the National Book Award in 1968, was strongly critical of the war in Vietnam and of American foreign policy. Since publication of Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a response to the women's movement, Bly has been immensely popular, appearing on talk shows and advising men to retrieve their primitive masculinity through wildness. Bly is also a translator of Scandinavian literature, such as Twenty Poems of Tomas Transtromer. Through the Sixties Press and the Seventies Press, he introduced little-known European and South American poets to American readers. His magazines have been the center of a poetic movement involving the poets Donald Hall, Louis Simpson, and James Wright.

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