A Moriarty Reader is one of those books that can truly be called a treasure. With a beautiful jacket design by Niall McCormack incorporating the painting Early Spring by Guo Xi (c.1020-1090) it looks extra special before you have even opened the first page.
John Moriarty (d.2007) was a poet, mystic, philosopher and original thinker. The Reader reveals his thoughts through his publications; Dreamtime (1994), the Turtle trilogy (1996-1998), Nostos (2001) and What the Curlew Said (2007).
This is an introduction to his writing for those who have not yet read his work, and also new takes on his thinking for those who are familiar with his writing.
After a brief biography there is a note on the selection by the editor, where he explains that it 'does not pretend to provide the definitive guide to Moriarty...[but] to illumine what Heidegger might call a Holzweg ('forestpath/woodpath) within the dense forest of Moriarty's writing'. Well, keenly down that path we will venture.
A foreword by Michael Kearney, founder of the Irish Hospice Movement describes Moriarty as 'one of Ireland's most important thinkers' and that 'to read Moriarty is to make a shamanic journey...to be initiated into that other way of seeing'. He recalls buying Dreamtime and standing mesmerised by it outside Hodges Figgis. The impact Moriarty has had on him has caused him to redirect thirty years of medicine 'to best act in service of the earth'. The way Moriarty has affected those who read him is quite
Brendan O'Donoghue as editor, recognises that despite John Moriarty's significance as a writer in Ireland, he has still remained 'a peripheral figure'. Lauded by the likes of Brian Lynch and Paul Durcan, O'Donoghue questions what entitles him to such praise? He identifies it as 'his ability to challenge...habitual modes of Western thought; his willingness...to act as a cultural shaman...; his innovative philomythical[myth loving] and metanoetic* search for wisdom and truth; and his original interpretation of Christ'. Now if that all doesn't draw you in to want to explore this Reader further I don't know what will!
(*metanoetic can be understood as philosophy that understands the limits of reason and the power of radical evil.)
In Dreamtime, Moriarty goes walkabout in the Aboriginal sense into Éire's, Europa's and Ecclesia's Dreamtimes engaging with myths and ideas to re-emerge with a new sense of who we are. In the Turtle trilogy Moriarty tries to 'nurture a new humanity on an Earth newly discovered as Buddha Gaia', goes on a right of passage, breaking free and reinterpreting the origin of the universe and finally explores how nature can be on our side by desisting from subduing and enlisting its help. Nostos is a 'homecoming adventure to who and what he is'. Picking up from here in What the Curlew Said, Moriarty documents his life-story from 1982 to a few months before he died, carrying with it 'profound wonderment'.
Moriarty was and is still a writer who had a profound impact on those who read his work. In this Reader, a new audience will get a chance to experience his insight into the mechanics of our world and his own very unique view of it. I certainly intend to return to this and explore it in greater detail and I imagine it is a book I will return to and bring up in conversation for a very long time.
A Moriarty Reader is published by Lilliput Press.