The Eighth Night of Creation: Life on the Edge of Human History

Description

405 pages
$24.95
ISBN 0-88879-080-5

Publisher

Year

1982

Contributor

Translated by A.D. Martin Sperry
Reviewed by P.J. Kemp

P.J. Kemp was a journalist living in Brigham, Quebec.

Review

“We are in the twilight of (creation’s) eighth day, a day both historical and geographical,” Jerome Deshusses explains in the closing pages of his book. “Now we are entering upon the eighth night, and it depends on us whether this night shall be eternal, or whether tomorrow, if tomorrow dawns, the ninth day shall shine, world without end.”

Deshusses’ allegorical “eighth night” is explored in some length and detail, all of it unremittingly negative. In the first chapter, “Gehenna,” all forms of pollution are listed for nearly 90 pages. The reason for this rampant and dramatically increasing pollution of our planet, Deshusses maintains, is mankind’s rapacity, acquisitiveness, and jealousy. Believing that matter was lifeless and therefore without retributive will, we made a slave of it, but even matter is rebelling in its own way by producing the poisons that are the companion of progress. “The Game of Grab” further explores this rapacious trait through discussions of politics, accepted business practices, and economics.

In “The Basic Cell,” Deshusses attempts to pin-point the root source of the problem in the structure of marriage and the family unit, which are founded upon possessiveness and jealousy. Everyone involved — husbands, wives, children — suffers numerous restrictions on liberty because of constant pressure from all members of the family to “belong” to that family and give allegiance only to that family no matter how bad it may be. From such unfounded and unworthy allegiances spring patriotism and nationalism, responsible for the empty competitiveness and trickery in the “game of grab.”

In “Museum of the Forgers” Deshusses details the failure of educational institutions (“The prime virtue of scholastic intelligence is superficiality”), literature, philosophy (“Worthless if they are imposed rather than voluntary”), and modern art (“Everyone for himself’). “The Observatory of Babel” concerns itself with the more arcane disciplines of science and philosophy, or more precisely, space and time, causality and finality, determinism and chance. Deshusses then goes on to give psychoanalytical theory the thumping it deserves, exposing it as babble and cant.

“Religion and Communism are the most wide-spread lies offered as answers to Humanity’s dilemma, but they are by no means the only deceptions available to us today,” Deshusses writes in “Incantations to the Mummies,” which discusses them all.

The concluding chapter, “Death or Transfiguration,” takes a look at evolution, a theory which Deshusses claims is in error for the most part because traditional evolutionists can’t “admit that Life invents and improvises,” so is inadequate as a model for what mankind must do to push himself through this apocalyptic eighth night of creation. “‘Apocalypse’ does not mean ‘catastrophe’ ... It means ‘Revelation’,” Deshusses hints. And later on adds even more cryptically, “Unanimity as to the ends, and the means will follow. Unanimity: one single anima, one single soul ... Nature could become what it has never been — our identity.”

The Eighth Night of Creation is often difficult to read, partly because of Deshusses’ disconcerting changes of style, from pedantic textbook to poetically passionate, partly because of cynicism, which upsets the balance of some of his arguments, and partly for the sheer scope of subject matter and overabundance and overstatement of detail. It’s indeed all part of the human mosaic, yet it seems to overflow the boundaries of one book, drifting occasionally into obscurity and irrelevance. And when Deshusses confidently writes toward the end that “What I have said so far in this book is not just what I believe, but what I know,” skeptical hackles rise because he doesn’t know, any more than his hated Darwin, Marx, or Nietzsche (the latter of whom he most resembles philosophically) knew. Otherwise it’s an interesting, thought-provoking book, and a sincere call to change the living patterns and belief systems that are killing us.

Citation

Deshusses, Jerome, “The Eighth Night of Creation: Life on the Edge of Human History,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38958.