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Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  • SubGenre:Adventurers & Explorers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:752
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781483565705

Epimetheus Bound: A Comic Salute to the Epic Tradition

(Or, How Wishy Epi Grows Older Without Becoming an Assassin)

by Keith Fahey

Book Image Not Available
Overview

It’s easy to go to Hell. But who, without guides, can make the way back?

"Epimetheus Bound" (698 pages with 38 pages of notes) is a work of imaginative nonfiction, a third-person historical autobiography of Epimetheus, whose name means Afterthought. The focus is on the ’60s and ’70s, with emphasis on the effects of the Flights of Apollo.

From earliest boyhood Epi knew big dreams were futile: “It can’t happen to me.” Then, in his mid twenties, feeling himself sinking into glooms of the Winless War he thought he could leave behind, Apollo 8 soared toward the Moon. Soon astronauts relayed a quavering video of the Earth as seen from space. Anon, Epi: “If the Earth is so beautiful, why do we make it ... so ugly?”

The instant was an epic transformation, a new faith in transcendence: “O wad some Power the giftie gie us.” When Apollo 11 touched Tranquility and made a safe return, anything seemed possible. And, by grace of introduction to the epic tradition, Epi had received the epic seed: the spirit of the Quest, the willingness to endure any test, including the descent into Hades. Fears were dispelled by a greater dread: Worse by far than failure is failure for untried reasons. If he didn’t try for true dreams, he would be forever tormented: “What would have happened if I had tried?”

Description

It’s easy to go to Hell. But who, without guides, can make the way back?

"Epimetheus Bound" ((698 pages with 38 pages of notes) is a work of imaginative nonfiction, a third-person historical autobiography of Epimetheus, whose name means Afterthought. The focus is on the ’60s and ’70s, with emphasis on the effects of the Flights of Apollo.

From earliest boyhood Epi knew big dreams were futile: “It can’t happen to me.” Then, in his mid twenties, feeling himself sinking into glooms of the Winless War he thought he could leave behind, Apollo 8 soared toward the Moon. Soon astronauts relayed a quavering video of the Earth as seen from space. Anon, Epi: “If the Earth is so beautiful, why do we make it ... so ugly?”

The instant was an epic transformation, a new faith in transcendence: “O wad some Power the giftie gie us.” When Apollo 11 touched Tranquility and made a safe return, anything seemed possible. 

But headline-saving Wishy had only the vaguest sense of the epic commitment needed to effect such a major change. 

Yet, by grace of introduction to the epic tradition, Epi had received the epic seed: the spirit of the Quest, the willingness to endure any test, including the descent into Hades. The seed might yet emerge in an affirming way. Worse by far than failure is failure for untried reasons. If he didn’t try for true dreams, he would be forever tormented: “What would have happened if I had tried?” 

It was an epic challenge in an epic age, and such an age called for an epic singer: If not him, who? How dare Wishy think he’s qualified? If Archi and Duey delight in destroying hopes, how amazing that the Glacier gods cheer him for their sport. Hear Athene in Canticle 1: Epi’s “fate [is] bound by Apollo’s call; Apollo, who calls not the qualified, but qualifies the called.” 

Just so "Epi Bound" needed time to emerge into light: conceived with Apollo 8, and nurtured in the computer womb until this self-publishing birth from Literary Nowhere, as when Odysseus embraced his Nobody wits to escape the Cave of the Cannibal Cyclopes. Epi e’er seeks to transform his Furies by realizing he’s still a bit ignorant; by invoking echoes from Mr. Teddy’s Survey of English Literature: Mr. T., whose voice gave new life to the works of many deathless contemporaries, including this couplet from the poems of Alexander Pope: A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.

With the gods for him, Epi never doubted that publication would be a major event: if not for others, it sure enough is for him.

About the author

Sing, Goddess, of detachment; of adopting the third person to sing of the Self, and the comic history of our times ... (and of resignation, accepting that seven careful paragraphs are here mashed into one) ...

In September of 1963, while taking Survey of English Literature as a college sophomore, Epimetheus was introduced to Beowulf and the epic tradition. Milton's "Paradise Lost" and The Companion Poems soon followed. The notion of the hero's descent into Hades made Epi's hair stand on end. It took decades for him to understand that subliminal thrill, but the introduction to Orpheus and Eurydice is the moment when the epic descent seized his imagination, never to let go. 

In 1977, when applying to graduate school, he began his application with, "I want to write the American epic." Such an ambition was sure to make the profs laugh, even derisively, but he also knew he had to declare the goal on which his heart was set. He ended the letter with a light joke, and was gratified when the school accepted him. 

He didn't begin the first draft until early 1986, and completed his latest revision in March 2016. He thought of course that the first draft was sufficient; he had no idea he had scarce begun, having completed no more than a scaffolding. Slowly he began to learn how broad a true epic must be; that no matter how disheartening, he had to be willing to sustain his own Hadean descent. 

In time one translation of Vergil gave him his needed mantra: "Easy is the going down to Avernus; all day and all night the gate to gloomy Pluto stands unbarred. But winning your way back to the upper air, that is the labor, that the task." 

Throughout most of the Underworld journey Epi let acceptance by others determine his progress. Since even minor acceptance was rare, and since publishing queries were either ignored or dismissed with "not right for us," he felt trapped in hell. Finally he stood before Time's wingèd chariot, and, despite good health, had to wonder how much time he had left. More, "in the light of eternity," he realized he doesn't need acceptance of others: he just needs to accept his beckoning Self. 

And so he resolved to publish "Epi Bound" himself: "Epi Bound" of course being the friendly nickname for "Epimetheus Bound: A Comic Salute to the Epic Tradition (Or, how Wishy Epi grows older without becoming an assassin)." The goal had long been to transform the Furies into the Eumenides, or Workers of Grace. He took his initial inspiration from Ishmael, who, whenever the hypos start to get the best of him, takes to the sea. Just so, whenever the Furies assail Epi, he takes to the computer or to song, and even his lesser works quite truly become his "substitute for pistol and ball."

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