The Brillig Trilogy by Daryl Sharp
Chicken Little: The Inside Story (1993)
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2) Who Am I, Really? Personality, Soul and Individuation (1995)
3) Living Jung: The Good and the Better (1996)
By all three books in a set:
Reviewed by Suzanne Nadon in Dream Network January 1997
In his characteristic storytelling style, Daryl Sharp has created a wonderful trilogy. All three volumes are Jungian primers. In the first, Chicken Little, we are introduced to Sharp's anima, wise old man, shadow and persona, all in the guise of "friends and relations." With them he explores through dialogue and diatribe the issue of a projection of the "end of the world" onto the outside world, the search for the authentic self, and the nature of reality (which to Jungians includes the great below). It all takes place in Sharp's house, where he publishes Inner City Books.
The second book, Who Am I, Really? explores the notions of persona, personality, anima and animus, the process of discovering one's vocation, and the complexities of the process of individuation. It is set on peaceful Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario.
In the third book, Living Jung, Sharp extends his exposition to a consideration of neurosis, typology and complexes, always mindful of Jung's words: "If better is to come, good must step aside." Delightfully, it begins and ends in the author's neighborhood pub, Mayday Malone's.
No one need be intimidated by the scope of this material. With passion and humor, Sharp and the feisty Professor Adam Brillig (the author's familiar, and soon ours too) dialogue their way through these difficult concepts, differentiating between the pure principles (archetypes) which seek consciousness, and their manifestation as complexes.
Sharp could have delivered this material through traditional didactic methods. I'm delighted he chose a "better" way, as I have grown quite fond of ol' Brillig and Sharp's other personalities too, including his dog Sunny, who features throughout (in Chicken Little she throws snowballs, and in Living Jung she gets to speak). All in all, The Brillig Trilogy is serious fun.
Chicken Little, reviewed by Susan Payton in Friend's Review, Fall 1993
I must admit that I've never particularly cared for the story of Chicken Little. I've read it to my children because I thought it revealed the ridiculous in humans, and I knew they would be exposed to quite a lot of that. But a Jungian analysis of the tale? Frankly, I was frightened. What followed, however, was one of the most delightful reading romps I have ever taken.
I imagine Sharp's Chicken Little could be analyzed right down to the commas and periods; but I preferred to relish the sheer joy of discovering myself in its amazingly understated question marks.
The protagonist of the piece is the author himself. After a short and wonderfully whimsical scholarly paper-"Chicken Little: Messiah, Meshuggeneh or Metaphor?"-the plot quickens. Sharp receives a letter from the eminent Professor Adam Brillig, Chickle Schtick scholar and Jungian analyst, who turns out to be part Sherlock Holmes, part Professor Moriarty, part Dr. Who. He claims to know where to find the stone tablets on which, according to Sharp's paper, Chicken Little's story is recorded in hieroglyphics. He begs Sharp to help in their recovery. Thus the adventure begins.
Brillig shows up on Sharp's doorstep with his assistant Norman and several suitcases full of alchemical magic. (Norman just happens to be the former analysand of Sharp's who was the antihero of The Survival Papers and Dear Gladys.) There is a love interest (or anima), Rachel, although the true muse of the book is Ms. Little herself. There is Sharp's friend (or shadow), Arnold. And don't forget Sunny, the dog (Greek chorus?), who has the table-turning last word.
Over the ensuing weekend, Professor Brillig takes Sharp, Arnold, Rachel and the reader on a numinous journey of Self-discovery-via Chicken Little and Jungian psychology. And it all takes place in Sharp's house. Well, until "Rachel" lends her basement for an intriguing experiment in holography, which leads to a surprising but entirely credible denouement.
Are these characters real people? Aspects of the author? Is the story fact or fiction? I suspect a bit of both. But the not knowing, the good-natured down-home mystery of it all is part of the charm of this tale within a tale.Aptly described as a romance, Chicken Little is remarkably humorous, beautifully written, tantalizingly irreducible and full of the magic and simplicity of being human. At times it left me breathless. In short, I loved it and I bet you will too.
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Who Am I, Really? reviewed by Sharon Dawn Johnson in C.G. Jung Society of Ottawa Newsletter, April, 2000
What a pleasure it is to read the work of a masterful storyteller, as Daryl Sharp undoubtedly is. Before I knew it, I found myself lured into the depths of Who Am I, Really?, eager to know more, and wondering why the book was so very readable.
The enticement is important because the subject matter, making sense of Jung's views on the relationship of personality, soul and individuation, is difficult reading - difficult but rewarding. But Sharp's overall structure and his inimitable storytelling style give the material a memorable quality and clarity which enables readers readily to grasp the teaching of Jung's ideas as they are laid out here.
The main core of the book consists of a series of cleverly cast dialogues between Sharp as the narrator and Professor Adam Brillig, a wise old man character upon whom Sharp freely admits he has "a perfectly workable projection." A holiday get-together on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario provides the relaxed but animated setting for their discussions and interactions with five other guests.
A clue to the identities of these interacting figures can be found early on in Sharp's and Brillig's discussions concerning soul. Sharp reminds us that Jung used "soul" in a psychological rather than a theological sense, and then Brillig furthers the matter: "Nor did Jung equate soul with psyche. He used the term psyche to include all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious. Soul he defines as personality, forged over time by an ongoing dialogue between the ego and the unconscious."
Two points of interest here. Soul is defined in a way accessible to readers, and the clue to a soul-forged personality occurs through extensive intrapsychic dialogue. In a cleverly creative way Sharp has shaped, I suspect, a dialogue within a dialogue - a place where multiple layers of meaning can operate simultaneously. Not only is Sharp telling us that intrapsychic dialogue is a method whereby the soulful personality is forged, he is actually demonstrating that reality in the conversations between the various figures that people his text.
Adam Brillig, to name the primary example, is representative of the ongoing dialogue which Sharp is having with his own unconscious under the guise of the wise old man. Indeed, I suspect that all these characters are individual images not only of Sharp's personal unconscious, but also drawn from the collective unconscious. As we are reminded, "Jung identified three levels of lthe psyche: consciousness, the personal unconscious, and the archetypal or collective unconscious - the objective psyche."
By creatively personifying these interwoven levels in a storytelling mode, Sharp gives substance to what might otherwise remain intellectually abstract concepts. This ability, along with the sparkling wit which marks the interactions of guests and plot, make Who Am I, Really? a pleasure to read. I found myself not only gripped but delighted with the inventiveness of the plot and hungry for more.
Only after I'd finished this book did I discover that I'd read the second installment of what is called The Brillig Trilogy, the first and third titles being Chicken Little and Living Jung respectively. I can't wait to sample their fare, and hope that other readers will also enjoy and learn from Sharp's immensely gifted teaching style.