December 27, 2010
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.