The Call of the Trance
The Call of the Trance is a magnificent book which takes us to the frontiers of the forbidden. These states of ‘eclipse’ from life that are pursued by every human being who is in search of meaning are elusive and invariably inexpressible. From initiation ceremonies to crises of hysteria, from suicide attempts to the ecstasies of witches, Catherine Clément explores in simple but scholarly terms the responses that civilizations have offered to this need to disappear. These human beings whose marginal status is a source of anxiety are persecuted by social and religious rules.
From the witches of Loudun to current Mongolian shamans, from the eighteenth-century Convulsionaries of Saint-Médard to Greeks of today dancing on the embers of their fires, Clément questions the countless means desire employs to push back the limits of the body. She shows how, from Dionysian antiquity to our own day, the petite mort of the trance state shows up in the lovers’ coup de foudre, in anorexia, rock music, rap, sexual reassignment, eroticism and even Twilight-style vampire stories.
‘Scholarly readers will savor the book’s rich panoply of anecdotes, gleaned from medieval romances, modern American vampire sagas, and everywhere in between. It is this colorfully rendered catalog of trance-related events and conditions that such readers will find of greatest use [. . .] Leaving the reader with a desire for more—this is a hallmark of a truly effective book. Clément’s is clearly a valuable contribution to the study of human consciousness and one of its alternatives. I recommend it highly.’ —Fredericka A. Schmadel, Journal of Folklore Research
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