A Look at Morris Berman’s ‘Destiny’
Lovers, Anne-D Mejaki
Morris Berman’s recently published Destiny tickles the mind and heart. Everyone has pondered, “What if… ?” Many have curiously poked at the free will vs. fate conundrum. Does one cancel the other out? Which guides our lives along the tracks we’re traveling? “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” wrote Robert Frost. Did free will guide his figurative footsteps or was it fate drawing him down that road?
Jason decided to try something he had once read about in a book on the Western magical tradition. He closed his eyes, and concentrated. He regulated his breathing, so that it was steady and even. He imagined his body melting into hers, mouth to mouth, hip to hip…and then, it happened.
Whether an intellectual puzzle, a spiritual exploration or subject of a rousing debate, one often ends up with a dubious compromise. Most of us accept we can never know, can never prove, any answer is an absolute truth.
Obsession…all the pop psych pundits say it’s a bad thing, but as Jason well knew, in the Western magical tradition obsession was seen as a good thing, a necessary thing, because intensity was the key to producing material transformations: no strain, no gain.
Others of us ask the question, “What if… “ to the point of taking a sharp turn off the tracks. Three such individuals do this in Morris Berman’s novel Destiny. They choose to thwart the path their lives seem to be following by making surprising choices. Each experiences a different degree of happiness as a result.
If your question is, can you go back and choose differently, the answer is yes, but again, there are down sides. If Jason agrees, the two of you can arrange to have the May-December relationship, but I’m telling you, you’ll feel just as weird as you do right now.
Destiny is a compilation of three novellas:
La Vita Nuova is a metaphysical story which touches on everything from the occult to time travel. A quiet librarian shapes his world to his preferences. If only there weren’t that little catch in the deal.
The Observer finds an artist realizing she forged a life which left her entirely alone. Her eyes open to changing the course of her life while she works with a therapist.
The Seven Deadly Sins features a teacher turned bestselling author. Having settled in a quiet village in England, he sets himself on a path of “purification,” facing down each of the Deadly Sins. His project takes a surprising twist when he falls in love.
Berman’s exploration of this difficult concept is clever and touching. His characters are drawn from the everyday world. That they are moved to change their lives in such radical ways draws the reader into the world the author created. Destiny is more than meets the eye. It can only leave the reader pondering: What if I could go back and change this little thing? What if I pulled up stakes and changed everything? What if…?
Having taught and been honorably recognized at several universities, Morris Berman is no stranger to intellectual puzzles. His trilogy on the evolution of human consciousness (The Reenchantment of the World, Coming to our Senses and Wandering God: A Study in Nomadic Spirituality) eloquently bears this out.
Jessica Rosen writes short stories in a wide variety of genres. She’s also at work on a series of romantic suspense novels. After a several year hiatus from writing, Jessica returned with gusto in 2008. Five novels and dozens of short stories later, she is honored to join Escape into Life. More of her short fiction can be found on her blog Girl Meets Word.