Paul Pines’ “Trolling with the Fisher King” is a work of genius—not a word I use lightly. He allies his rich personal, variegated history with immense learning, explores the archetypal rhythm of wounding and healing, and provides the reader a deeply moving reminder of the mystery which courses through history and through the lives of each of us.
— James Hollis, Ph.D., author of "Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run our Lives"
Paul Pines’s “Trolling with the Fisher King: Reimagining the Wound” is a work of staggering erudition and deep spiritual insights. This twilight memoir incorporates a lifetime of engagement with a wide variety of thought and deeds. Terrence’s words kept occurring to me as I read it: “I am human, and I think nothing that is human is alien to me.” Paul (I will use his first name since he is a friend as well as a writer under purview) weaves together many elements from sports fishing to quantum mechanics as if the performance by a master conductor.
— Louis Proyect

Trolling with the Fisher King grew out of the author's fascination with the figure of Amfortas, the young King of the Grail Castle in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, whose mission was to serve the Holy Grail.  Amfortas betrayed that mission by killing another knight in combat under the banner of Amor! during which he sustained a wound in his groin that would not heal.  His pain was relieved only when he stood in a skiff with a line in the water, hence The Fisher King.  Because the fledgling knight Parzival failed to ask him the healing question, "What ails thee?" Amfortas continued to suffer.  It would take years before Parzival was able to develop the necessary empathy. Pines suggests that Parzival may be the first tale to identify the wound as vital to realizing the healing potential in Western culture.

But what happens when the Fisher King and his wound are no longer recognizable? Pines, a fisherman touched by war zones and wastelands in Viet Nam and the Bowery, explores the consequences of this loss. He argues that recognition of the wounded light-bearer is critical in our time, when identification with technology in ascendance has enabled the empowerment of authoritarian figures and governments. This book records his search for Amfortas, and the Fisher King Function. Pines uses the tools Jung employed in his confrontation with the unconscious in The Red Book, gathering symbolic patterns and inter-disciplinary connections to interrogate his personal experience and what he finds in the world within and around him.

Available for purchase from Chiron Publications.


“The image above is from Paul Pines’ essay “Dinner with the Fisher King,” the fourth and final chapter of his magnum opus on, yes, the Fisher King of legend, the wounded king of a desolate land. (All the previous chapters have appeared here — another book on NC.) A therapist as well as a poet and scholar, Pines has dedicated these essays to delving the roots of creativity, his own personal journey as an artist, the psyche, and the mysterious images the human race has dreamed in its past, obscure and luminous, the shadows among which we dwell.”

— Douglas Glover, editor, Numéro Cinq

Continue reading at Numéro Cinq:

  1. Trolling for the Fisher King: Starting in Gloucester
  2. Trolling with the Fisher King: The Archaeology of Dreams
  3. Constellating The Net: A Quantum Fairy Tale
  4. Dinner with the Fisher King