Tao of Elvis: Foreword

by Thomas Moore
author of Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

“I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.” That is my favorite Taoist-like Elvis quote. In this book you will find many others that reveal his wit, humility and sense of irony. Interestingly, true to the Tao, you will also find the opposites of these qualities in him. He was yin and yang, boy and king, the innocent and the corrupted.

I came away from reading this penetrating book with the image of a funny and friendly man hiding in a megastar, like a writhing worm in a bright red apple. People who knew him usually loved him for his capacity to love. Those who condemned him were hiding, too, in a balloon of virtuousness too easily offended by a young man’s antics. If there was a tragedy about Elvis’s life, it was the impossible challenge of being a real human being and feeling called to be a king, an image not easily borne by a small-town boy.

… Many said that Elvis was the mirror image of America, meaning that when Americans gazed at Elvis we were seeing ourselves and maybe a caricature of ourselves. America itself is an eternal adolescent, playing at love and full of virtuous ideals while hiding a menacing, ferocious capacity for aggression and self-destruction. This is not yin and yang. This is a split personality. Dr Rosen describes it in Elvis as Jekyll and Hyde.

… The bigger question: will America’s Jesus fantasy, its self-image of being essentially good, a worthy leader of the world and the source of all creativity and bounty, be incarnated in real life, or will it eat too much and drug itself and burst in the heaven of its glory.

… I plan on keeping this book handy for a number of reasons, and just to enjoy the good translation of a variety of Taoist quotes is one. I’ll also want to remember how fragile a tender soul can be when the people around you take you to be a myth and overlook the person in the center….

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