Major public interest in poet Robert Bly and his ideas on ”the confusion that men feel about their role in our society and their inner lives” was first sparked in early 1990 with PBS’ A Gathering of Men. Now available on video, the 90-minute show featured the silver-maned Bly speaking to a small group of men in Austin, Tex. The show struck a resonant chord with a male generation rendered psychically tone-deaf by the feminist movement, Vietnam, gay pride, and the sexual revolution.
Bly’s appeal, like that of countless other mind-power people, comes from his considerable ability to articulate transforming thoughts — however arguable — with clarity, precision, and force. Here his commentary segues neatly from a thumbnail analysis of how the industrial revolution splintered the familial male bond to a generalized, eclectic ramble about how men can effectively confront and cope with feelings of grief, desire, inadequacy, love, and aggression.
Interspersed are heady exchanges with host-interviewer Bill Moyers and reaction comments from rapt audience members. For newcomers to Bly’s thesis, A Gathering of Men is a thorough and responsible introduction to the captivating man and his provocative work.