Me and Snoopy for blog

I named this blog for a phrase in the opening stanza of T.S. Eliot’s, The Four Quartets, in a passage about visiting the imaginal realms where memory and imagination meet:  “Through the first gate, into our first world, shall we follow the deception of the thrush?”  

Later it became The First Gates, plural, as I discovered other related gates.  The First Gate, is the name of the first of several passages you go through to reach a traditional Korean Buddhist temple.  It’s a dangerous test for the young hero, Atreyu, in The Neverending Story in his effort save the realm of imagination from “The Nothing” – a parable for our times if there ever was one!

This blog is no longer About what it was in the beginning.  My initial focus was fiction and the process of writing.  Later I included spiritual topics, but from my current perspective, the thread animating all these posts is imagination.  Not only artistic “creative imagination.”  I use the word in the wider sense employed by psychologist, James Hillman, an influential post-Jungian thinker:

“By soul I mean the imaginative possibilities in our natures…that mode which recognizes all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical” – James Hillman, Revisioning Psychology, 1977.

That is my focus now – a ramble through many topics, linked by my curiosity to find, “the reality in our fantasies and the fantasy in our realities.”

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you will do so again!  –  Morgan Mussell (pronounced, mew-SELL)

60 thoughts on “About

    • Hello Morgan, looking into Shook Genealogy today and found a letter from your Mother sent to us many Christmas’s ago. No date on the letter but it was the Christmas before your family moved to France for two years. My husband John is related to you in a way. His father Dr Ralph Shook was a nephew of Luther and Settie Shook the parents of your grandmother. The 1930 census shows that Ralph was living with Aunt Settie and Uncle Lou, in Kalamazoo. Auntie June, as John called her came to our wedding with your Mother in June, 1963, in Los Altos. In 1972 we moved to Saratoga. We now live in Aptos.
      Wondering if your father might still be alive, my search found your blog.
      If you do not have a copy of the letter your Mother sent out that Christmas, I would be happy to send you a copy. She sounds so excited and happy about the past year and the chance to live in France.
      Carrie Shook

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Carrie,
        Thank you very much for taking the time to write. I’ve done some work on Ancestry on my mother’s side of the family, but have not filled in all branches of the Shook family. Some notes:
        (1) The Christmas before the family moved to France was 1964. I do not have a copy of that letter, so I’d enjoy seeing a copy. The email I use these days is mhmussell@gmail.com
        (2) To the best of my knowledge, Luther and Settie never had children. I believe I have a copy of Luther’s obituary. Do you know which of the Shook children were Dr. Ralph Shook’s parent was? There’s a chance I may have a photograph.
        (3) My great-grandmother was Hannah Shook, youngest of the seven surviving children of Elias Shook and Susanna People. Hannah married John Outwater and had two daughters, Pearl, and June, my grandmother. John Outwater died of TB before my grandmother was born. For a while I had Elias Shook’s family bible, with a lot of information in it, but I gave it to the wife of one of Pearl Shook Laurin’s children. A decade ago on this blog, I wrote of a Shook family ghost story my great-grandmother Hannah used to tell at Halloween. The post has a picture of Hannah as a young woman https://wp.me/pYql4-3q
        (4) Hannah Shook Outwater died in San Jose in 1960. She was living with her daughter June, and one morning, after breakfast, she fell asleep in a chair and never woke up. My grandmother June died of a stroke in France on Christmas eve, 1966. My mother died of a stroke unexpectedly in May, 1975. She was only 52. My father died in February, 2007, officially of heart failure while sleeping, but he was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
        (5) Again if your husband has any info on which of the Shook children he’s directly related to, I can check and see if I have any pictures.


  1. What a great title for your blog and equally great reason for doing so. I wonder if many bloggers give their titles such thought. I like that you will touch on spirituality in your blog. I will have to come back for a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do read ebooks and do book reviews. You can click the tabs on the home page to see what I’ve done and see if you like it. If you click my gravitar image you’ll see my email and you can send info on what you would like me to review. I’m not up on how to file transfer the various formats.


    • It is a great story. I had a psychology professor who claimed the story was about “our culture’s war on imagination,” and I think there’s something to that. All ends well, however. Thanks for visiting my blog, and please stop by again.


  2. I loved reading those lines by T.S Elliot. Felt like meeting an old friend. I’ve never heard of the Neverending story before this – fascinating. What a curious challenge, not of courage or character – which is what so many fables, old and new, are about, but an understanding and appreciation of one’s own worth….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We sat across from each other at a recent CWC meeting. Congratulations on creating an imaginative and highly informative blog! I look forward to checking out all of your entries and links to other sites.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your blog, Morgan! My research at university was creativity, and I have always had a fascination with imagination and how people imagine things differently. I will definitely be back for more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David, and welcome. As a student of the subject, I’m sure you’re familiar with this, but one of the books I really enjoyed this year was Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. There are truly no ends or limits. I’ll be interested to hear any other comments you have.


      • I haven’t read that book, but I’ve read other writings/research of Lehrer. Last week I talking with a psychologist/researcher based at my university, and one of his areas of focus is creative thinking. From the title of that Lehrer book, it sounds like it is about the cognitive processes associated with creativity, but even if it’s not you might enjoy reading some of the research of this psychologist. His name is Dr. Michael Mumford and he has a lot of work out there so I’m sure you can find him through Google or something. Great guy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the reference. Lehrer’s book was indeed about the elements of creativity behind certain things we might otherwise take for granted – how a sandpaper salesman for 3M developed masking tape and later, scotch tape. What aspects of corporate culture give 3M more patents than any other company. Lots of examples like that.


  5. Hi Mr Morgan Mussell,

    It seems that your very own blog has gone through many first gates, and the blog itself has the richness of “The Neverending Story”. It is heartening to see how you and your blog has continued to evolve and consolidate.

    As for “The Nothing”, I feel that the pace of social change and the increasing human population have caused everything to be cramped out of existence and to recede into the past, into oblivion, into historical junkyards. It would seem that even authors have to build in obsolescence in their stories and characters.

    “Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished, masterpiece”, according to Kush.

    Thank you for citing T.S. Eliot and James Hillman. Your thoughts and philosophical ponderings are appreciated by SoundEagle. Indeed, the centrality of the quotes are on imagination (and fantasy), which is also the main theme of “The Neverending Story”.

    I also love your avatar, which ostensibly depicts your fondness for Snoopy and Peanuts comic strips. So, please allow me to introduce my recent post at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/soundeagle-in-taming-soundbeagle/ for your pleasure.

    May you have a pleasant and lovely weekend!


    • Thanks for your comments, Soundeagle. I enjoyed your post on Woodstock’s beginning very much. I’m sure that the pace of social change does feed The Nothing, but not in any simple manner. I don’t think it’s just pace/speed per se, since the 20th century greatly speeded up life, but at times, art kept up; works like Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase,” or Charlie Chaplin’s, “Modern Times.”

      There’s probably a much easier case to be made that economic hardship stifles creativity.

      Perhaps the pace of social change feeds The Nothing because collectively, we are telling ourselves and each other so many differing stories concerning what matters, what life is about, that it’s a bit like Tower of Babel 2.

      Anyway, thanks, it’s something very interesting to ponder.


      • Hi Morgan,

        I did not realise that you have looked through either of my two pages until now, as I did not see your liking them (with the “Like” button) and/or your leaving comments there, not that they are mandatory.

        PS: It would be nice to have some feedback from you right at my blog if possible. By the way, I have spent some time recently to make the blog faster (as it is laden with multimedia and multidisciplinarity) and also (much) more stylish with some surprises, and there is more coming in the pipeline!


  6. I shall read more of your blog, I appreciate that you know your on a journey rather than telling us how to go on a journey. For me I am sifting and others may see the granules, but since you have sifted so well your own words and those of others, it was pleasant to sit and read.
    Nice blog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting and please do stop back. As for journeying, one of my favorite images came from something Joseph Campbell said about the grail quest: “Each knight entered the forest at the place that seemed, for it would have been shameful to follow another’s path.” During times like these, I don’t think it’s even an option – we all seem to know it wouldn’t work.


      • That was a very good comment as well, I guess a true Knight could only enter where it seemed, as we should all take notice. It looks that you are following your own path.
        Thank you for commenting and responding.


  7. Too idle to go to my bookshelves, I googled Eliot’s ‘Marina’ which I want to cite, and to my joy this idleness raised the First Gates. I have a novel to complete, and it wafts in and out of JG Frazer, the medieval Alexander myths, Parsifal, and a thousand goat tracks. I’ll be returning a lot to your site, and wandering around. It’s an appealing set of clearings in the woods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ve been a student and practitioner of eastern traditions for three decades, and I realize there are many things in common. I realize I should gather my writings on this subject and create another page…


  8. Found your blog through a search on Swain’s techniques. What a goldmine! I am so intrigued and thankful! I am working on a 16th century folktale that feels contemporary in its concerns, I am so thrilled to find your words and thoughts. Carry on, love is coming to us all! Dorette

    Liked by 1 person

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