In Regards to Chapters 1 and 2 of
Walter Mosley's Blue Light
22 January 1999
Let me start off by commenting upon the characters who were developed (or should I say underdeveloped and killed?) in this novel. I found them to be extremely one-dimensional. Granted, we can argue that this one-dimensionality was a result of the blue light and not necessarily the fault of an incompetent author, but I would call that argument a rather weak shield. And there was an arbitrary quality to the one dimensionality. Some characters were defined by their life's pursuits (studying history, being a prophetic con man, etc.] while others were defined by what they were doing in the moment when the blue light hit them [having sex, dying]. Mosley also had a habit of killing many of his characters, including Ord (which somehow annoyed me because despite the shallowness of his character, I had rather liked him].
There is one commendable thing about Mosely's characters, however. That is their truthfulness. These were characters from all walks of life, including criminals, libertines, and even dogs.
Which brings me to the second point I should like to discuss: the dog sex. First, I should mention that this is not my first literary encounter with bestiality. The Marquis de Sade (writing in the late 1700s] brought the subject up several times including a rather raunchy scene in Juliette; to the Marquis, sensuality was all about experience and imagination, which his heroes (or antiheroes if you will] would explore in ever more extreme ways. Aleister Crowley wrote in The Law is For All : it is just as natural for a farmer to love his pig as for a man to love his wife. But we need not look to new religions such as Thelema to find bestiality condoned. Egyptian gods and goddesses are traditionally portrayed as half men and half beast. Greek and Roman mythology is full of stories of encounters between humans or gods with beasts. And the Kama Sutra (a text on the science of eroticism dating at less 1500 years] also mentions bestiality on several occasions as a human practice (and rather interestingly, no taboos are mentioned as being against bestiality, while both oral sex and masturbation are forbidden by sacred texts]. I once read an interview with a German couple who considered themselves to be modern day libertines (though if they should take their activities as far as Sade's heroes was never discussed]; they felt that bestiality was the last real sexual taboo that has been kept in the closet - homosexuality, interraciality, even S&M/B&D are becoming common practices or at least can be openly discussed without immediate disgust. It was interesting to note that in Mosley's work, the first bestial encounter began before the blue light hit and at this time it was clearly a consensual act, so this was not part of the enlightenment brought by the blue light.
In regards to the nipple that is bit off as part of this same scene, I can only make sense of it in regards to Sade's work. For Sade, sex and sensuality was not about mutual pleasure. He felt that the most extreme pleasure could only be obtained when the hero neglected his victim's pleasure, or even subjected his/her victim to pain in order to appreciate his/her own pleasure more from the contrast. If we accept that Claudia Heart was a true libertine even before the blue light (which is plausible -- she was involved with a dog and another woman's husband while her own husband was involved with that man's wife], then we can say that the blue light just took her to more wanton extremes than she might otherwise have practiced and thus the man loses his nipple which is rather mild compared to what Sade might have written.
As for the source of blue light, a classmate suggested it may have been biblical. I didn't quite see that, but having heard it, I would not refute it. On the other hand, I was more inclined to wonder whether Mosley had studied either ceremonial magick [especially Qabala, which is originally Jewish magick and mysticism] or the Hindu religion. The first, because Crowley (and others] have suggested that nothing becomes something in order to permeate through various experiences and then eventually return to the nothingness from which it came, which reminded me somewhat of the story of the blue light's creation. The second because the Hindu religion traditionally paints it's deities blue and just as each blue light had a separate path, a separate destiny, so too does the Hindu religion provide for every soul. The Hindu religion also allows for a sort of otherworldlyness and refers to stages of life occurring on other planets.