Table of Contents
Also on this website:
Toby Johnson's books:
GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness
GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
You're Not A Wave
What is Enlightenment?
What is reincarnation?
How many lifetimes in an ego?
Emptiness & Religious Ideas
Experiencing experiencing experiencing
Going into the Light
Meditations for a Funeral
The way to get to heaven
Buddha's father was right
Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal
The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika
Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva
John Boswell was Immanuel Kant
The Two Loves
Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook
Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer
The Way Out by Christopher L Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson
Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry
Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr
Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois
Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson
Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low
Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman
The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman
Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor
Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine
The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada
The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook
The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther
The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel
Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak
Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez
Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr
Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman
Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano
The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo
The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar
Occam’s Razor by David Duncan
Grace and Demion by Mel White
Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso
The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery
The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass
“From the frontiers of science today, a disturbing novel of wonder and imagination”
By David Duncan
The New English Library, 160 pages
Available from amazon.com
Reviewed by Toby Johnson
I read this book when I was a teenager in the late 1950s. It was a newly published paperback at the time; the Public Library had just started stocking paperbacks—especially of “genre books,” like sci-fi. I read ALL the sci-fi in the branch library in my neighborhood. This book has remained in my memory. It was very interesting to see how influential it proved in my general thinking about the nature of universe as conceived by modern science. Duncan's Occam’s Razor is based on a parallel universe model. In the admittedly thin plot, the brilliant, but sort of mad, scientist discovers that soap film can be stretched so thin that it creates an opening into other parallel universes, other dimensions.
I am author of a sci-fi novel—in the gay genre—titled Secret Matter. I wrote that in the mid-80s. Its plot is based on a parallel universe model. Though I certainly did not have Occam’s Razor on my mind when I was writing Secret Matter, I see how it had long before provided me my parallel universe concept. And I discover that the "alien male in Duncan's novel is named Bel-Abon; the alien visitor in Secret Matter is named ’Bel. I did not do that intentionally. I DID consciously model the opening of my novel on Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, i.e. the arrival of aliens in many spaceships that hover over major cities. Childhood’s End was my favorite of all those books in that Public Library and Arthur C. Clarke provided me a model of sci-fi as a kind of modern myth through which to understand the universe.
I can see Childhood’s End’s influence, I think, on David Duncan. (These two novels from the 1950s were written about 4 years apart.) Clarke’s novel opens on an island in the South Pacific where a lunar mission spaceship is being constructed; Duncan’s novel is set on an island in the Caribbean where a lunar mission ship is being built. Clarke’s aliens, The Overlords, turn out to look like devils with horns (in one of the major plot twists of the novel). Duncan’s accidental visitors from another dimension, through the soap film stretched along a mobius strip, are an Eve-like woman and a man with horns. David Duncan’s novel reads pleasantly like an Arthur C. Clarke novel, though without quite as much plot. I hope I’m right in thinking Duncan offered a little honorific to Clarke in Occam’s Razor, just as I did in Secret Matter.
And, of course, the central trope of the novel is the principle of parsimony, the so-called “Razor” of William of Occam, which states that the simplest answer to any mystery or problem is most likely to be the right one. From reading this novel as a boy I think I came to see the rightness of this principle of logic and morality. No wonder this little book of science as cosmological myth has stayed with me all these years.
Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.
Johnson's Lammy Award winning book
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature
of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are
available now from Lethe
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