Review: “Mental Flight” by Ben Okri

ben okri 5.4.14

While studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, one of my favorite fiction book assignments was The Famished Road by Ben Okri. What an absolutely magical book! Spurred by my new-found love of this amazingly imaginative author, I purchased a small book of poems written by Okri, An Anti-Spell for the 21st Century: Mental Flight. Now I must have carried this book around with me from country to country, state to state for over ten years. I finally decided to read it on a trip to D.C. Below are a few of the passages that I wanted to share from this remarkable master-piece.

To Humanity in the Aquarian Age

From Chapter 1 “Time to be real”:

Illusions are useful only if we use them
To help us get to our true reality.
Initiations and rituals, if they are noble,
Have this power,
(They magnify the secret hour)
They enable us to pass from
The illusion of our lesser selves
To the reality of our greatest selves,
Our soaring powers.

From Chapter 2 “Signs from the old times”:

Humanity is at its most radioactive.
Fussing and fissioning.
Giving off energies abundant
Like so many little solar systems.
Hurling out so many seeds,
Like the fertile season in great forests.
Out of these energies,
Out of time’s sifting,
Will come a new future,
Unrecognizable to those of us who live
And breath now.

From Chapter 3 “Is humanity exhausted?”:

Those who are exhausted have lost
The greater picture,
The greater perspective.
They are trapped in their own labyrinth,
Their lovelessness, selfishness.
For those with limited dreams,
There is chaos to come.
Disintegration. Nightmares.

From Chapter 4 “The stony ground”:

And yet, because of our pollutions,
Earth’s fragile balance is askew.
Humanity dies in refugee camps,
Goes mad in ghettos,
Is brutalised by bad governments,
And perishes in festering wars.

From Chapter 5 “Harmony of politics and heart”:

The truth is that we haven’t really tried,
We haven’t really gone for it,
We haven’t really striven
For a world of balance
And contentment.
We are like athletes
Who haven’t really extended themselves.
We haven’t found out what we are
Really capable of doing,
If we put our minds to it.
We are functioning below
Our potential for love,
Justice, and creating a good world.

From Chapter 6 “Hold on to your sanity”:

And they pay an awkward price
For such clear-sightedness.

From Chapter 7 “No one is a loser”:

We have the power of solar systems
In our minds.
Our rage is powerful.
Our love is mighty.
Our desire to survive is awesome.
Our quest for freedom is noble, and great.

From Chapter 8 “Turn on your light”:

The most authentic thing about us
Is our capacity to create, to overcome,
To endure, to transform, to love,
And to be greater than our suffering.
We are best defined by the mystery
That we are still here, and can still rise
Upwards, still create better civilisations,
That we can face our raw realities,
And that we will survive
The greater despair
That the greater future might bring.

ben okri

Copyright 2014 Ajua Hawkins

6 Replies to “Review: “Mental Flight” by Ben Okri”

    1. You’re welcome. The Famished Road is also a beautiful book. Brings meback to nature. Sending love my friend. Hope all is well with you and the fam!

    1. You’re welcome. Yes, one of my favs. The Famished Road is an incredible book. Thinking of reading again because it’s been so long. Sending love!

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