When Gil Bailie first encountered the work of René Girard in the mid-1980s he had for years been hosting weekly gatherings for discussion of classics from the Western literary and spiritual tradition. These discussions became over time more in the nature of talks or reflections as those who attended the sessions began to appreciate Gil’s unique perspective. That perspective was radically altered and reoriented when Gil began to seriously engage with Girard’s mimetic hypothesis. The psychological lens provided by Jungian analysis that for many seemed to cast a penetrating light into the nature of human affairs including religion, after contact with Girard, now came to appear as another obfuscating permutation of Gnostic mystification.
The new perspective was provided by an altered source of light. Previously, he had used an intellectual construct from Jungian psychology that stood outside of the literary subjects he was examining. The light of Girard’s mimetic theory came from within the works themselves, and could be seen to have originated in the revelatory light that burst forth from the literary sources of the Judeo-Christian tradition – the Bible, (as Girard himself acknowledged). It was in this vein that Gil was fond of quoting his friend Andrew McKenna, “The Gospels understand us better than we understand ourselves.”
Some of those presentations recorded around the time of this changed perspective are now becoming available on our website (as well as on Amazon and Audible). The latest of these are Gil Bailie’s Reflections on the Works of Herman Melville including Moby Dick and Billy Budd. They are offered here as CD sets or downloadable MP3 audio files.
Listen to excerpts from these archival recordings:
For anyone who may have read down to the end of this post…I suggest considering re-reading the Elizabeth Jennings poem In This Time that Gil shared earlier this year. It carries the metaphor of outworn myth and light in life’s journey to poetic heights.