Consciousness, declares Robin Fox, is "out of context." Useful as an adaptation in the Stone Age, it brought humanity to the top of the food chain but has now created a world it cannot control. The Passionate Mind explores this paradox not through academic demonstration but through satiric dialogues, blank-verse ruminations, lyric, narrative and comic verse, and Aesopian fables. This mix of genres and styles forces us out of our usual linear modes of thinking to confront a harsh thesis. Because of consciousness we cannot operate without ideas, but once in thrall to ideas--whether of love, power, religion, or ideology--we cannot operate without destructiveness lest we become imprisoned by them.
The range of subjects and genres Fox covers includes a verse summary of the key points of human evolution, a conference of farm animals ruminating on their social problems, visions of a desperate future from a neolithic hunter and a shaman at Lascaux, Kafkaesque trial scenes, and a new version of "God is dead." George Washington, having lost at Yorktown is put on trial with Adams, Jefferson, and Benedict Arnold giving evidence. Through the persona of Humbert Humbert as decadent Europe, the new world of Lolita/America is faced with the consequences of its pursuit of happiness. Scandinavian utopianism and salvation through romantic eros get their turn, and the basic "design failure" of humanity is examined in a Platonic dialogue. A bullfight and the struggle for existence in New Jersey farming lead up to a monologue from a decidedly unlikely Jesus who turns out to be part of an alien plan to control an otherwise out of control human race. Through this kaleidoscopic mix, Fox mounts a case for a thorough revision of consciousness that breaks "realistic" boundaries between science, the humanities, religion, and myth.