I just finished reading Wild Animus. It was very engaging and well written. I couldn’t put it down. The interspersal of Sam’s manuscript within the novel drew me in. The intentional ambiguity between Sam’s writing of a ram, his “transformation” into a ram, and the ram as a metaphor for his life, was well done and added to the novel tremendously.
Imagine that a pagan hippie took a lot of acid while reading Wild At Heart, and took the whole book very literally. The result in his life might look an awful lot like the story of Wild Animus. Seriously, that was my very first thought about the book.
Sam’s pursuit of Animus has some common ground with Christianity, but most of that would also be common with many religions. A Creator. Humans created in the Creator’s image. Victory through surrender to the Creator’s will. The passionate pursuit of the Creator. There’s also a similarity to eastern philosophy along the lines of “all is one”.
And much of Sam’s philosophy echoes Wild At Heart. The pursuit of your dreams as the way to thaw your frozen heart. A woman’s need for a passionate man, and to be included in that passionate pursuit of his dream.
But Animus is far inferior to Jehovah. Sam’s pursuit of Animus is a highly selfish one. Sam is an aspiring author who depends on his wife to support him as he pursues his dream in frivolous ways. He is cowardly, pathetic, and selfish. He denies her the support, stability, and family that she needs, and he ultimately abandons her. The pursuit of Animus demands such selfishness. Jehovah cannot be served selfishly; service and pursuit of Him demands _selflessness_ and service to others, not _selfishness_.
The pursuit of Animus is largely undirected – there is no point to it. Jehovah gives Adam a mission, at least. Sam gets no such guidance from Animus. Rich Mullins sang once of the futility of adivce such as “follow you heart” – it only leads to your chest – and “follow your nose” – the direction changes every time you turn your head. There is no direction (“north and west” hardly counts) to the quest for Animus. Be passionate. Follow your dreams. Great, but how do you know if your dreams are worthy? What if your dream is an evil one? How do you know when you’re on the right track and making progress?
This is highlighted in the imagery of the ram. A ram might be a fine looking animal, but what is it good for? What can a ram do? A ram can barely defend itself; mostly it just runs. The pursuit of Animus includes cutting loose of any center; it’s just running.
Jehovah, on the other hand, tells man to “be fruitful and multiply” and “subdue the earth” – to establish His kingdom here. He calls us not to run, but to fight and build. We are well centered and grounded.
Animus demands not just Sam’s surrender, but his sacrifice. That is the path to reunification with the molten heart of Animus. Jehovah sacrifices Himself for us. That provides the means of reunification with Him.
And Sam ends the story not as a victor like Christ, or even as a martyr, but as a pathetic lunatic. He does not complete the liturgy of the ram, or even surrender to the pack. He goes out not with a bang, but a whimper. Quite an unsatisfying end to a passionate pursuit of the divine, or even of one’s own dream.
_Wild Animus_ – good book, bad philosophy.