My thanks to Philip Bralich for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for a guest post about his book, Blaming the Japhy Rider.
My book was first conceived in 1983 after a one-year, ESL teaching trip in Japan. It took me 28 years of reading, study, and contemplation to actually get to it. The core subject matter has to do with my efforts to resolve rather deep and complex psychological issues that arose after an accident in the “bush” in Peace Corps West Africa which cost my wife her life and me much use of my left leg, my home, my career and much else. Of major importance to this theme, one that will be recognized to others working through such traumas is a discussion of how the original pattern of the trauma repeats and how trauma victims must constantly watch out for these repetitions (in my case the loss of spouse, home and career) until the trauma is properly metabolized and resolved. Here are more details.
Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and surveying the spiritual landscape of America through the 70s to the present in Zen, Tibetan Buddhist, New Age and Christian movements, this memoir describes the journey of my life beginning as a twenty-something, leftist, married, 70’s idealist in the Peace Corps in West Africa through an accident in the bush which cost my wife her life and myself much of the use of my left leg, and through the growing and debilitating psychological difficulties that are finally resolved through a wide reading and personal experience of many of the spiritual and psychological movements of those four decades. The book commences in West Africa in 1978 but also goes back to as early as 1973, just four years after Jack Kerouac died.
The journey begins in Africa, goes through the Air Force med evac hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, to the states, through two years in Japan, cross country jaunts, graduate school and teaching in Hawaii, one drive through Europe from Dundee, Scotland to Rome and then to Bonn, Germany, retreats at many spiritual centers and many conference presentations around the country. In between these national and international trips, there are many stops at Buddhist retreat centers, the Naropa institute, meetings with Allen Ginsburg and other beat poets and their cohort as well as commentary on the spiritual landscape of America over these thirty years as seen through the eyes of someone whose eyes the reader is not sure can be trusted due to the frank descriptions of psychological confusion. In the course of my studies and travels I had an inadvertent but much loved run-in with the Beats, which motivated the form the book took when I began to write. This is described in the book, and the appendix has a copy of a hand-written letter from Allen Ginsberg commenting on my poetry.
The memoir also describes my practice experience with Zen and Tibetan masters and the growth of my experience over 25 years from basic sitting to the highest yoga tantras to the Six Yogas of Naropa, all attained legitimately through years of practice and study and the completion of all necessary preliminary practices in the correct order. My resistance to becoming a teacher or a guru and my insistence on remaining an ordinary American rather than a new age rebel provides a somewhat different perspective on these practices and disciplines. The memoir is also cautious not to make claims at particularly wondrous successes with these practices. It focuses instead on occasional and convincing, minor experiences rather than dramatic breakthroughs or new age discoveries.
Of particular importance are the descriptions of the spiritual and psychological debilitation that was precipitated by the shock of the initial accident and for years was exacerbated as I sought out spiritual and psychological solutions. The descriptions of these states and the growing psychological awareness throughout the book give the readers an opportunity to explore their own psychologies and their spiritual beliefs while gaining insight into available faiths, practices and centers.
About the Book
Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums, this memoir details the psychological and spiritual triumph over severe psychological difficulties caused by a series of traumas endured in the Peace Corps in West Africa in 1978. Surveying the spiritual landscape of America through the seventies to the present in Zen, Tibetan Buddhist, New Age and Christian movements, this memoir describes the journey of author Philip A. Bralich's life, beginning as a twenty-something, leftist, married, seventies idealist in the Peace Corps in West Africa, through an accident in the bush that cost his wife her life and himself much of the use of he left leg, and through the growing and debilitating psychological difficulties that were finally resolved through wide reading and personal experience of many of the spiritual and psychological movements of those four decades. The book commences in West Africa in 1978 but also goes back to as early as 1973, just four years after Jack Kerouac died.
Pages: 260 pages
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, ebook
Publisher: Balboa Press
Price: $35.95 hardcover, $17.99 paperback, $3.99 ebook
Buy Links: Amazon (hardcover), Amazon (paperback), Kindle
“This book is dedicated to the elucidation of ‘the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,’ to those who have sought to stop the madness rather than exacerbate it, to the best minds of the Eastern and Western traditions who never succumbed to the madness, and to the victims of those who did.”
Opening poem (a Beatish kind of a thing):
He said she said that they said I said … but
What I really said
Is I think it’s you instead.
About the Author
Philip A. Bralich has a PhD in linguistics. He spent many years teaching ESL and essay and research writing. He has much experience presenting at professional conferences and publications in theoretical syntax, ESL, and computational linguistics, as well as with professional business presentations, business writing, and grant writing.
He is motivated by the tragic accident that took his wife's life and much of the use of his left leg; the memoir describes a thirty-year journey through western and eastern psychology, including much reading, practice, and an inadvertent but much loved run in with the word of the beats.
Bralich currently lives in Monterey, California, where he is writing screenplays and this memoir. After having been laid off once again from the best job of his life, he decided to take his meager savings and resolve his difficulties once and for all. The PTSD and survivor's guilt from his accident were finally resolved through this effort. His studies and travels began in Peace Corps in West Africa, and moved through years in Hawaii, two years in Japan, and approximately two years in group meditation retreats and many Buddhist centers across North America.
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