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Community review by Michael Shaelkings

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A Jordan B. Peterson fan recommended me to read Louise Blackwick

5 July 08, 2021

I was on a reddit forum, discussing with a Jordan B. Peterson fan about Jungian-influenced literature and he recommended me to read Louise Blackwick. I naturally started with her most popular work, the fantasy novel (The Weaver of Odds), but then proceeded to read the body of her work in its entirety. My review includes not just the Vivian Amberville saga but Louise Blackwick's novellas, short-stories and micro-fictions, thus her full body of work.

When I read Blackwick was a pupil and admirer of Carl Jung's writing, I thought it was just a tag she used to label her writing. But, I can assure you, that label is completely and utterly merited. Whether you are talking about the psychedelic novella "The Underworld Rhapsody" or the deeply philosophical and existential short-story "Jump into the Abyss!", Louise Blackwick's writing punctuates Jungian concepts in a sophisticated and meaningful way that I have not yet seen in past or present literatures. The somewhat David-Lynch-esque novella "Reprobates" becomes a perfect study of memory and consciousness, just as much as "Jump into the Abyss!" is a study of death, decay and our fear of the unknown. "The Underworld Rhapsody", perhaps Blackwick's most Jungian piece, is a study of human individuation, free will and consciousness as it would present in an altered state. The novella is written concentrically, with every layer peeling back to reveal more layers of consciousness - and with it, more layers of meaning underneath. This reminded me of Jordan Peterson's earlier lectures, particularly the ideas he presents in "maps of meaning", but the way Blackwick executes them in fiction elevates them to new heights. (e.g. in Vivian Amberville, Vivian essentially travels to a parallel reality called the Non-Existence, a place of fantasy and imagination, but also a metaphor for the collective unconscious. Vivian's side-kick, the shape-shifting, reality-tunneling "Hole-in-the-Wall" must be the most clever iteration of the Jungian Archetype of The Innocent I have ever encountered in a work of epic fiction, since children can essentially use their imagination to become anything and insert themselves into any " hole-in-the-world"). It is simply a magnificent work of genius, and Louise Blackwick sadly doesn't get enough international mainstream recognition for it. At least, not yet.

To that effect, I cannot stress enough how very deeply layers and important Louise Blackwick's stories are. If my review doesn't convince you of it, by all means be critical and take a look for yourself. Blackwick's work is structured in such a layered way that her writing reads simply enough to the perusing mind, and at the same time, seems not devoid of magnificent complexity under critical scrutiny.

In short, Louise Blackwick is what Jordan B. Peterson would have written if he hadn't taken the path of becoming a clinical psychologist, and Blackwick is the Jordan B. Peterson of English literature (despite her being originally Dutch).

I so very wish I could see a conversation between these two someday. That would be a sight to behold.