Dreamers and Their Shadows by Douglas J. Pennick. Mountain Treasury Press, July 2013.
Two ancient scrolls, The Secret Annals, are discovered in the 1950’s in a Tokyo bombsite. They purport to be the history of an unknown 15th-Century Japanese spiritual teacher who, in a time of social chaos, sets out to establish enlightened society. He begins his teaching saying: “Abstinence is no path at all. We are gambling on true love. It is an untested path.” In documents from students and spies, the Annals then give an intimate portrait of a charismatic leader, his teachings and the transformative journey he shares with his eccentric band of followers. The scrolls are unmasked as forgeries, but ten years later, a retired professor becomes obsessed. Who created this hoax? And why? To the professor the Annals offer new possibilities from a kind of parallel reality. On his deathbed, he makes his American assistant promise to continue searching and to translate the scrolls. The assistant moves to New York. It is the time of the Vietnam war and the counter-culture. He has doubts about the professor, but the world of the Secret Annals begins to seep into his life. He finds within the Prince’s teaching a path through this world of trackless uncertainty. Tantalized, he senses a new world of passionate intensity just within reach.
“A compelling, passionate evocation, an ethos of the imagination, a new kind of metaphoric history, DREAMERS AND THEIR SHADOWS channels a chorus of intimacies in a chronicle of age-old conflicts.” – Gaetano Kazuo Maeda, Founding Director – International Buddhist Film Festival and Festival Media
“This incredibly beautiful and unique. DREAMERS AND THEIR SHADOWS entices the reader into rich new worlds of understanding and enjoyment.” – William Osborne, composer, author, journalist and, with Abbie Conant, founder of The Wasteland Company.
“The writer probes, by means of mysteriously interwoven characters, events and psychic convergences, something very deep in all of us: our longing for perfection, and the implacable resistance to it of our human selves. Can we achieve utopian peace within? Can we create a utopian society in the world? Is this the best use of our humanity? (perhaps love matters more?) These questions are explored through a tension set up between the rarified world of academic study and the direct, in-your-face, crude, frightening, sometimes beautiful, utterly strange world of life with a charismatic, enlightened, “crazy wisdom” Teacher.” – Susan Merwin