reading 2010: final vol


Psychomagic – Alejandro Jodorowsky

Woo-ha! The book I have always wanted from Jodorowsky but didn’t know I wanted. Two book length interviews, chronicling the intertwined development of his creative and spiritual lives, culminating in his development of a highly idiosyncratic style of therapy. Jodorowsky is larger than life in every way, and this is a massively entertaining account of an artist achieving enlightenment. Exactly the right book at exactly the right time; totally recommended. Fabulous, superb. As ever, his art seems tame compared to his life. And recall that Holy Mountain was decades ago, and he has been nonstop doing awesome crazy shit before and since. Works as more or less a companion piece to his bio The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Mystical Dimensions of Islam – Anne-Marie Schimmel

Classic study of Sufism, its history and development. Excellent.

Millennium – Felipe Fernandez Armesto

Never uses a simple word where a complex one will do. But yeah, a really exceptional study of the last thousand years of world history, with excellent human level detail and great sweeps. Particularly valuable as a comparative study of human empires, giving equal time to those who achieved much but fell by the wayside.

The Seven Basic Plots – Christopher Booker

Exceptional tome analysing why we tell stories. Identifies 7 basic forms of plot, and argues fairly convincingly from a Jungian archetypal perspective that they are really about providing models for achieving psychological integration of the Self. This is part one of four. Where it gets interesting is when he applies this, describing how things have changed, and why, in the past two hundred years, and how it applies to culture and identity and more.

Extremely stimulating. Will probably get a full post at some point. Recommended to all who have an eye on story as a profession, if only to work out why you disagree with him.

A thousand rooms of desire and fear – Atiq Rahimi

Short novel by afghani writer. Man, Afghanistan is fucked and in pain, and has been for a while. Beautiful and sad.

Who is Bugs Potter – Gordon Korman

Found this at the bach and ripped through it. Loved Korman as a teen. Man, these books go. Fun.

Tomorrow When the War Began – John Marsden

Found this on the street one day. Pretty solid, good grip on teen dynamics, really tight and tense. Can see how this is the start of a wildly successful series.

Endless Things – John Crowley

Final book in the Aegypt Quartet. Which is one truly colossal novel in four parts that took 20+ years to emerge.

Again, the sequence deserves a full post sometime. But in short: a while back I blogged Russell Hoban saying “The real reality, the flickering of seen and unseen actualities, the moment under the moment, can’t be put into words: the most that a writer can do – and this is only rarely achieved – is to write in such a way that the reader finds himself in a place where the unwordable happens off the page.”

Aegypt achieved more of those moments than anything else I have read. Just sublime. Effortlessly – well, subjectively – beats the living crap out of most fiction.

The speculative chapter about Giordano Bruno surviving his execution, and how, and what he did next, basically destroyed my mind in terror and exultation and opened a rent in space-time. Books are cool.

For the first time ever I am writing a fan letter to an author.

Aboriginal Men of High Degree – AP Elkin

Classic study from the early 20th century of aboriginal karadji and their powers. (Was a primary resource for Eliade’s Shamanism.) Fascinating, and stark; aboriginal culture lost a hell of a lot through contact with the west, and this study was from when living memory knew about what it had lost.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling

The Harry Potter cycle will get its own lengthy post soon. Oh yes.

The Call of Silence – Abdullah Dougan

Complete text of the Tao Te Ching, with a commentary on it by an NZ Sufi sheikh. Seriously amazing.

Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff – Thomas de Hartmann

Russian aristocrat and noted composer who, with his wife, followed Gurdjieff for twelve years, sticking with him closer and longer than anyone. Amazing account of working with a master, and life in Russia during wartime, and Europe, and the world.

When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World

The 200 years of the Abbasid Caliphate. Includes stuff about Haroun Al-Raschid, famous as the Caliph in the Arabian Nights, and his reign. Fun evocation of a fascinating time – a high point in culture in many ways not eclipsed until the Renaissance.

The Imperial Capitals Of China – Cotterell

China is seriously different than everywhere else. Geography and history are the same thing.

the dragon reborn (robert jordan), the high king (lloyd alexander), several harry potter novels (4, 5, 6), how to win friends and influence people (dale carnegie), a book on Babylon: Myth and Reality by a museum, and Richard Bandler’s ‘Get the Life You Want’, which is really pretty brilliant, after 30 years of changing people’s brains.

Have started Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants, which looks as thought it has the potential to be truly brilliant. And The Conquest of Morocco, which looks interesting, if, say, you wanted to travel to Morocco soon.

6 Responses to “reading 2010: final vol”

  1.   bruce
    January 7th, 2011 | 8:06 pm

    >Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants

    A friend related to me (what he thought was) a killer bit from this, something along the lines of light and eyes evolve at the same time. I’m not putting that very well. The point is the meta point, that Kelly (who I do respect) uses this to support his thoughts, which is noteworthy to me in that I recently read the same point in support of theosophy/symbology/sacred geometry in Schwaller de Lubicz’s Temple of Man.

    I am noticing more and more of this sort of thing– that people use unexplained phenomena or perspectives in support of their world theories which are at odds with the status quo. And what I am finding interesting is that the same unexplained phenomena are used to support conflicting alternate explanations.

  2.   bruce
    January 7th, 2011 | 8:25 pm

    hey, are you interested in enlightenment too? Check out my blog posts if you like and see if we have something to talk about, either here or 4pm sunday at shambala centre camp on the paddock!

  3.   billy
    January 7th, 2011 | 8:47 pm

    That would seem to fit with Kuhn’s basic model of paradigm shift. Data points that fit outside the prevailing paradigm need to be explained; they accumulate until they cannot be ignored; new theories arise which try to explain them, and by doing so (and explaining the previously explained stuff, too) become the new paradigm.

  4.   bruce
    January 7th, 2011 | 8:55 pm

    >become the new paradigm.
    apparently we have no paradigm yet. What about successions of alternate theories that are accepted by small groups but never become mainstream? Do those unexplainables sit out there as food for successive theories… and is a theory becoming mainstream that good a test of its soundness? What about new theories that arise and don’t even hit all the major unexplainables? Maybe there needs to be something like wikileaks but with unexplainable observations. Just those, no theories. Maybe it already exists! Time to google…

  5.   billy
    January 7th, 2011 | 8:59 pm

    We probably have a majority within the current paradigm who would deny the need for a new paradigm 😉 (And a wider majority who have never questioned reality or their paradigm at all.)

    Kuhn was specifically talking about scientific paradigm shift; hence its criteria is scientific proof.

    wikileaks for the unexplainable: surely that is what the fortean times was doing, and now the internet at large? 🙂

  6.   bruce
    January 7th, 2011 | 9:15 pm

    ah sure the fortean times… but this is the era where content is not important any more, there is heaps of it. What is needed is editorial input. Perhaps a collection of unexplainables that gets voted on? but it isn’t loading for me right now…