The Other Within by Daniel Deardorff

Daniel Deardorff knows otherness firsthand. This highly regarded “singer” in the old sense of that word—musician, storyteller, maker of ritual—had polio as an infant and has used a wheelchair most of his life, giving him a lived perspective that deeply informs his views on this subject. In The Other Within, Deardorff starts with a radical notion: to disclose the blessings of outsiderhood, the many gifts and insights contributed to culture by the marginalized and outcast. Unlike studies that stress the plight of the outsider, this one asserts that to be cast down and out of the consensus-worldview affords a difficult yet significant opportunity: to encounter oneself, not as defined by society but as one actually is. An eloquent spokesman for “the man or woman on the weird road,” Deardorff presents dozens of powerful examples from myth and literature to illustrate his message in a richly allusive, complex series of essays. Drawing on the work of mythologians, poets, psychologists, and scholars, The Other Within takes readers on an initiatory journey, uncovering the roots of human identity and imagination and offering insights–including “trickster wisdom”—revealing the mythic underpinnings of everyday life. This second edition includes updated text, a new introduction, and a helpful glossary.

Laura BlakemanComment