Katabatic Wind: Good Craic Fueled By Fumes From The Abyss
by Stephen Crimi

"Lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality."

In a world that eternally powers forward, Stephen Crimi’s Katabatic Wind presents his audience with an opportunity to awaken the wisdom from within using sacred origin stories that help readers be more cognizant of the ever-important question: who am I? This compilation of essays begins with a dive into the abyss of the underworld, a katabasis, with an analysis of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and culminates with a deep dive into the significance of geometry and the number 108. The most extensive and intriguing aspect of Katabatic Wind, however, is the discourse of dharma—duty—and its juxtaposition in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the epic poem, Mahabharata. Crimi’s discourse is inundated with both analysis and research that helps the reader arrive at a more complete understanding of how one can lead a more purposeful life.

A thorough reading of Katabatic Wind will yield one golden nugget after another of self-realization. The most intriguing of Crimi’s discussions is this idea of dying two deaths: the death of flesh and the death of ignorance. Specifically in the Mahabharata, the world’s greatest archer, Arjuna, is conflicted with his dharma, or the right way of living, as he and his charioteer, Krishna, described as the supreme personality of godhead in the Bhagvad Gita, are stationed in the middle of the battlefield, Kuruksetra. Incorporating the idea of Sanskrit, the Rgveda, and karma, the author takes Arjuna’s moral dilemma and compares it to Hamlet’s predicament, where he must avenge his father’s death by slaying the current king, his uncle, Claudius. Although Crimi includes complex slokas, or chants from the Bhagvad Gita, he explains the meaning and his purpose for its inclusion with such precision that even the layman would pick up the message. For instance, in one sloka, Crimi translates the Sanskrit version to simple ideas such as transforming from dark to light, and death to immortality.

Crisis, tragedy, and loyalty are the common themes for both princes, Arjuna and Hamlet. Both epics debate their moral dilemma through iconic monologues: Arjuna’s bow, the Gandiva, is described as trembling under the weight of the family members he must slay to carry out his dharma, while Hamlet’s “to be or not to be speech” has become a part of all literary canons. The way these characters make decisions, face their doubt, and come to a resolution is insightful, and certainly, as Crimi suggests, useful to tackle the daily challenges of life.

Like an intricate puzzle, Crimi dissects his evidence, and unveils it piece by piece, until his purpose and the image he is trying to convey fits nicely into the reader’s mind. In his section on Exegeses, Crimi goes into the mysticism of the rose and the role it plays over many cultures and literary texts, including the Islamic Sufi tradition and Dante’s Inferno. On a deeper level, however, the audience will be intrigued by the intercultural uses of the number 108. Whether it is the Pentagon, the Golden Triangle, the radius of the moon, Buddhism, or the cosmological Yugas—phases of life—in the Hindu culture, 108 always finds its way into relevance. Interestingly, there is even a section on the sanctity of the game of baseball and Pythagorean numerics and angles. 

In the end, Purgito Ergo Sum, Crimi brings the lens back to his own life, where he finds himself in an ayahuasca-fueled journey, and comes to the realization that he is, “neither Shiva nor Satan,” and “this is all that being human is.” Several elements of life and myth come through loud and clear after reading Katabatic Wind; however, the constant is a stronger understanding of cultural origin stories, parallels, and an overall glimpse into what it means to be human. 

Stephen Crimi’s Katabatic Wind leaves no stone unturned. The depth of research and insightful information he conveys about our identity as human beings begs for multiple reads of this text. While Katabatic Wind will turn every philosopher into a kid in a candy store, its concise explanations make for a meaningful read for anyone who wishes to understand the layers of their humanity.


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