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.


Four Trolling with the Fisher King essays published by Numéro Cinq are available here.