Messenger Afterword


Fifteen years ago, I was reading Lost Horizon repeatedly and thinking about Shangri-La continually. Like Alexander Woollcott so many decades earlier, I had gone “quietly mad” over James Hilton’s book, I think now because I was clinging to the thought that somewhere there existed a refuge of sanity.

In September, 1979, I began to write Messenger as a sequel. 

Why? Several reasons.

* To win fame and fortune. (Ask any author you know.)

* To finish at least one of the novels I intended to write.

* To persuade myself that Shangri-La could have survived the coming of the Red Chinese.

* To protest the death of Tibetan culture, and the fact that no one in the West seemed to care.

* To emphasize the importance of individual spiritual development, at a time when all the nation’s attention seemed to be aimed outward.

* To express something of what I had learned about life and meaning, most notably from the work of Laurens van der Post and Carl Jung.

I wrote Messenger four times, and each time the focus, the center of gravity, changed, almost against my will. In fact, the only chapters to survive more or less intact through all four versions are the one dealing with Miss Brinklow and the one describing George’s – originally Dennis’s – first experience of the drunken monkey.

I began the first version at about the time of my brother Joe’s sudden and mysterious death. (I have never been able to trace the underlying emotional connection between the two events, but I know it’s there.) Denis Corbin was the protagonist. In that first version, George Chiari was nowhere to be seen. Central to that version was my conviction, fortunately erroneous, of the imminence of the Last World War. Equally central, equally erroneous, was a reluctance to concede that life is to be lived here, wherever we are, rather than somewhere else.

A second version attempted to tell Corbin’s story as a flashback after his return to America. I realize now that I was working on returning the focus from far-off Tibet to the world around us. I didn’t know it then. 

When a third version followed, a few years later, George Chiari entered the scene, complete with as much of my background as I found it entertaining to give him. Also, psychic matters and the nature of reality took center stage. In that version, the section called Another World was as long as either of the other two parts. Fortunately my friend Suni Dunbar (whose painting of Shangri-La graces the cover) persuaded me this would not do. “It’s boring,” she said bluntly, and she was right, as always.

Finally, for no reason I could ever figure out, came the gift of the Saturday morning in 1988 when I sat down with a cup of coffee and a pen and a legal pad in my dining room, looking out at the marsh behind my house, and began writing out a new version, beginning with George Chiari’s U-2 taking off from Peshawar. As I wrote I could see the action as though I were watching a movie. In fact, as I wrote I could imagine the movie version: silent shots of Chiari being bundled into his airplane in the predawn darkness; the U-2 soaring into the sky; flight far over land, over increasingly rugged scenery, as the credits and titles began to roll. Then – still with no words – a quick shot of his engine exhaust suddenly ceasing; his face, startled, followed by him beginning to flip switches….

I wrote all of Chapter One that morning, as I recall, and the rest of the book followed smoothly and relatively easily. The revisions and changes that have taken place since then have all been minor. Messenger took 15 years to write, or took only a few months. I can’t decide which statement is less misleading. And although I put plenty of work into it, I’m not always sure who wrote it. 

Frank DeMarco
August, 1994

14 thoughts on “Messenger Afterword

  1. Do you think that “another world” always has to be a psychic thing? What if it is a God given thing that we all have and some have just not developed it or become aware of it? What if it is an essence of God inside us….but NOT us that gives us a sense of another world. I just read another excert from a book and a poem that spoke this very thing.

  2. I know where you are coming from since we have had other correspondence. All of life is God given, we agree, but what I wonder is if you see a distinction between the righteousness of God and the selfishness of us?

  3. I think that we are a localized part of “all that is” which is the same thing, to me, as saying “God.” We in 3D space-time experience ourselves as limited, local, individual and mortal. But there is another, larger part of ourselves that is none of these things. With work and intent we can learn to identify more with that part of ourselves that is outside of 3D space-time (which initially seems to us “another world”) and then many of these distinctions fall away.

    We are part of God. How else could it be? That means by definition that every attribute we share, we share with God. And this is what Jesus was telling us long ago. I think his words may be paraphrased: “Once you stop identifying yourself with only your 3D segment, you will realize that you are vastly larger and less limited than you think.” Jesus’ two commandments are a roadmap toward changing focus from the one to the other.

  4. So then you see us as holy and as love…..only? No wickedness or hatred,selfishness or ego? I agree that Jesus has called us to look beyond ourselves and this dimension we live in to another much larger spiritual dimension, but, and I think this may be where we differ, I believe even in that dimension there are 2 forces at work and that is good and evil. God being good all the time and all the time God is good and the evil hosts that oppose Him.

  5. No, I didn’t say that. We are a mixture of good and evil — any ten minutes looking at the world should teach that. But it may be a mistake to say that God is all good, because God, by definition is *beyond* dualities. In fact, I think that the tree that Adam and Eve ate from was the Tree of Perceiving [things as] Good and Evil. That’s a different nuance from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; it means, we fell into creation, into duality, so that now seeing things as one part of a duality is the only way we *can* see them. In other words, it seems self-evident to us that things are good or evil or a mixture of the two — living as we do in duality we cannot imagine something beyond the duality. But God is beyond it.

  6. Man!!!! We agree, but I am not sure that we agree. I think the percieving and knowledge are the same thing. Do we really have knowledge if we don’t percieve……or do you mean “percieve” as the same as discernment? I can have the knowledge of something and be totally about that, yet unable to discern something that is the same, but from a different angle……you know….how people can be saying the exact same thing and someone outside the debate can see that, but those in the debate only see their angle and continue to argue. Is that what we are doing?

  7. No, I see a real difference in connotations between perceiving and knowing. How you perceive a thing colors it for you, but that’s not the same think as saying that your perception is accurate. I may *perceive* Republicans as foolish, or wise, but I *know* that they are humans. In a sense, it is the distinction between subjective and objective knowledge. (The caveat is that ultimately we don’t “know” anything, absolutely; still the distinction is useful.)

  8. Have to throw my two cents in. The one thing I don’t hear being clearly stated is that God does not do anything but offer us the choice – the free will – to choose. I personally don’t believe that he then condemns us if we don’t choose according to how he “wants” us to choose. I believe that is the lesson we are living and the path that we trod to return to that divine place of oneness. Without the yin yang, black white, negative positive, good evil, all the dualities – there wouldn’t be a choice to be made and we would already have ascended beyond this plane. I know we are loved no matter our choice -God’s love is all encompassing and ever patient. When I finally could look at Walsch’s statement that “God loves Hitler even as you” I had the briefest glimpse of what “love” truly is.

  9. One of my largest personal mandates is to take responsibility for one’s actions. I feel the need to apologize to both of you. You were in the middle of a conversation and I barged right in. Not only was that rude but in re-reading this the tone of my entry is somewhat rude. I am not apologizing for the essence of what I said, it was just not the appropriate place or time.

    Namaste – Linda

  10. I’m not conscious that it was an interruption. In fact, I thought that was the purpose of blogs, to let us all horn in on each other. PEMs are the place for uninterrupted dialogue, on blogs anything goes (except rudeness or personal attacks) as far as i am concerned.

  11. Okay. This blogging thing is all new to me and I’m not aware of the protocol, if there is any. It was just such a nice flow you two had going and it stopped on a dime. (Still feel the way I started was a little rude) Oh well, why wait to be chastised when I flail the wet noodle so well all by myself?

  12. I had not noticed the “apology” fo Lindalight until now. I did not see it as an interruption at all and I for one am glad for other’s opinions. It helps me grow as I hope some of what I say may be a seed for others. Thank you Lindalight!! I don’t agree with all you said, but it gives something to think about.

  13. I feel ever so much better now. I’m glad this blogging thing encourages active interaction between all.

    Happy Holidays and a blessed and enlightening New Year.

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