Themes and Meanings
In the eternal conflict between the forces of order and the forces of anarchy, Reed clearly stands on the side of the latter. Hence he would prefer to use such terms as “oppression,” “tyranny,” “ignorance,” “intolerance,” and “incomprehension” to describe the defenders of the status quo, and “progress,” “change,” “freedom,” “creativity,” “imagination,” “fantasy,” and “peace” to identify those who defy traditional restrictions. Reed attacks Protestantism as a restrictive religious movement, morally, sexually, and aesthetically; the federal government as an avowed enemy of Jeffersonian democracy, which Reed uses as a symbol of the ideal state; and capitalists such as cattle baron Drag Gibson as absolute despots. Among the oppressed are the younger generation, artistic geniuses, the alienated individualist, Indians, and African Americans. These are people who have no political or economic power but, if they can attune themselves, have access to the secret forces of life, represented in the novel as HooDoo.
The Christian religion suffers blasphemous abuse from Reed. Judas is Loop’s personal Loa because he put his finger on the devil. Christianity has been the enemy of black people for two thousand years. When the Pope comes to draw Loop away from Earth to the restrictive confines of Heaven, Loop explains that Christianity is only part of the total cosmic scene and Jesus only one of God’s sons. Buddha is another, and Loop a third. The Western world not only has neglected the cosmic jester but also has identified him with the devil. When this Dionysian force is...
(The entire section is 662 words.)