Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson – brief review

 

The other day I finished reading Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson by G.I. Gurdjieff.

Gurdjieff’s stated intent for the book is “To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.”

The result is extraordinary.

A long, astonishingly diverse, intentionally difficult, sprawling, bizarre, cosmological, deeply hilarious, sort-of science fiction novel, containing a legominism for an incredibly contemporary and relevant spiritual teaching, it is more or less the most amazing book I have ever read, and quite indescribable in any normal way.

While perhaps too steep an ask for anyone not interested in the teaching, regardless I believe there is enough of value here for anyone who makes it to the end; and I am certainly very glad I read it, and grateful to Gurdjieff for his efforts.

 

One caveat: it certainly can’t be completely understood from one reading. But despite the effort I can imagine re-reading it.

reading 2015 vol 2

So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport

Interesting argument that following your passion as a means to find meaningful work is less smart than getting really good at something and building from that. Short and full of padding, but the nugget of gold contained within is pure.

Kettlebell Simple and Sinister – Pavel Tstatsouline

Brutally simple Russian kettlebell protocol from the guy that brought kettlebells to the West. Effective.

The Man In The High Castle – Philip K Dick

Read this maybe 20 years ago and didn’t think much of it. It read a lot better this time, now I have more knowledge of history, the I Ching, and Japanese culture, and PKD’s general philosophy on reality. Set in a world where Germany and Japan won WW2 and have partitioned an occupied America. (Was this the first major alternate history novel? Essentially creating a genre?) A very weird choice to turn into a TV show.

Enchanted Night – Stephen Millhauser

Delightful novella from a Pulitzer prize winning modern fabulist. Dreamy romantic fantasy drenched literature. One unusual, or perhaps usual, night in a small town.

So You Don’t Get Lost In The Neighbourhood – Patrick Modiano

Novella musing on memory, identity and reality from the recent Nobel prize winner. Pretty weird, the narrative sort of dissipates as it goes, as the narrative turns out to not be the point.

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Novel. Great evocation of 18th century Iceland as we follow the last woman to be executed in Iceland, a mix of intense reconstruction from documentation and narrative extrapolation.

Book Launch – Chandler Bolt

Useful book about launching books.

A Night of Serious Drinking – Rene Daumal

Curious, inventive, and very fun. A short metaphysical/esoteric novel from the 1930s, in a satirical and pataphysical tradition, steeped in Gurdjieff’s perspective. Blindingly funny in places, with more philosophical subtlety present than at first glance. While I would still recommend Mt Analogue by Daumal over this, I think I am more likely to reread this one.

reading 2015 part one

Have been very slack at logging reading this year. Does anyone read these or care, anyway? Who knows. But they are useful for me. So here is a recap, glancing through my diary. Feel like I read a lot less than usual this year. I also think I am getting a lot of my mental stimulation from podcasts these days.

 

The Pastel City – M John Harrison

First in the Viriconium series. Oddly angled fantasy, a very different mood and mode, elegiac and austere. Written back in the 70s, maybe? Harrison is a wonderful writer and this is bizarre and neat.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know – Ranulph Fiennes

Autobiography of adventurer/explorer/mad bastard Fiennes. What I read of it was entertaining.

Occupational Hazards – Rory Stewart

Scottish dude ends up running a really large province in Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority after the US invasion. Really fascinating insight into what trying to run a country and make things better is like when the country is messy and complex, and the area you are in charge of has its own very distinct history and culture from the rest of the country. Things do not go well. Great read.

Think Two Products Ahead – Ben Mack

Really excellent book about marketing and how to think about marketing and communicate what you are doing by a, well, wizard.

8 Tribes: The Hidden Classes of NZ

That book about NZ being made up of 8 tribes. Meh. It was short to skim. Deservedly forgotten.

What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund

Really interesting book by a designer – so there was lots of wild design as a book – who loves to read, about what goes on in our heads as we read, and how we visualise and imagine and interact with words. Definitely worth a look if that sounds like you.

Capital in the 21st Century – Thomas Piketty

Epic tome about inequality and how it isn’t going to go away, and in fact has and will worsen, because of how our economic system is structured. Compelling argument. Necessary to be familiar with at least the introduction.

Ritual – Malidoma Some

West African shaman describes the function, role and importance of ritual in the life of his people, with some eye-opening stories.

Conversation – Theodore Zeldin

Something short and light about the art of conversation, I think.

The Laughing Monsters – Denis Johnson

Novel, gave up real quick, Johnson is great but wasn’t in the mood.

Prophet – Brandon Graham (comic)

If you want some very very weird sci fi comics, this is your jam. Epic scope, weird, mad, fun. The most Metabarons-esque thing since Metabarons.

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains – Neil Gaiman

Nice short story with illustrations, sort of the darker side of Gaiman.

Autobiography – Miles Davis

Entertaining ride, didn’t get too far. Jazz guys were a pretty wild crew, back in the day.

Money: Master The Game – Tony Robbins

Pretty exceptional book about managing money and investing. Robbins used his access to the most successful billionaire investors in the world to model what they are doing and put it together in a system. Essential.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Ramit Sethi

Irritating smartarse Indian teaches you money management and investment. Very sharp, good material, but annoying.

A God Somewhere – John Arcudi (comic)

Random grab from the library. Neat take on someone actually getting super powers and the guy who remains his best friend through it.

The Wake – Snyder (comic)

Ditto random. Award winning comic. Decent.

Neonomicon – Alan Moore (comic)

Alan Moore turns his genius to modernising Lovecraft. Really fantastic, and easily the darkest and nastiest thing I have read by him. So good.

Ecko Rising – Danie Ware

Random genre novel from the library on a whim. Sort of a sf/fantasy mashup. Shades of Thomas Covenant without the prose ability. A heavily implanted hi-tech assassin wakes up in a fantasy world, doesn’t know what is going on but has some special abilities in the local sense. Fast, fun read.

New Spring – Robert Jordan

Never knew this existed until I found it and read it. A prequel to the Wheel of Time, which I read a bunch of when I was much younger, then gave up on 300 pages into book 6 when nothing had happened for those 300 pages. This prequel features Lan and Moiraine 20 years before the first book, and how they got to where they got to at the start of the first book. It was really fun to reconnect with that world, though man does Jordan go on and on. Like, a hundred pages of this book could have been summarised in a paragraph or twp, but the depth of the world is amazing.

What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars – Jim Paul

Really useful book about when to get out, and how not to lose money, and the inner psychological game of money and investing. Biggest takeaway is this amazing question: if you were not already in your current situation, would you want to get into it?

The White Lama – Alejandro Jodorowsky (comic)

Fun times as Jodo does Tibet.

An Interpretation of Universal History – Ortega y Gasset

This was actually pretty fascinating. Dude takes on Toynbee’s model of history by showing that the Rome Toynbee takes as an exemplar of civilisation never existed on those terms.

Guide to Tranceformation – Richard Bandler

Bandler returns and summarises his life’s work. Best book you could get on NLP.

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

Hugo Award winner? Real good for reasons it is difficult not to give spoilers about. Slowly uncovering just who the main character is and their history is exceptional.

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

Read about 4/10 of it, which is an immense amount of this tome. It is incredible and Wallace is obvious genius and deserving of whatever praise is heaped upon him. Still, too long, eh? Gargantuan, genius, very funny, very dark, very empathic. No wonder the poor bugger topped himself. Sort of hope to get back to it someday.

Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach

Skimmed it. Woo Buddhist positive psychology.

Bold – Peter Diamandis

Very very interesting book about accelerating change and exponential technologies and what that means for changing the world via business. We are living in very interesting times.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl

Classic book by psychiatrist holocaust survivor about the experience of Auschwitz and what separated those who survived from those who didn’t. Incredible, powerful, stark view into humanity, and what is really important. Essential.

Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie

Sequel to the above. Still enjoyable but much less interesting since most of what there is to be revealed has been revealed.

Magic and Mystery in Tibet – Alexandra David-Kneale

Woo. If you only read one book on Tibet, this is the one. French woman travels around Tibet in the early 1900s, spending time with hermits and magicians and in monasteries and documenting her experience and the stories people told her. There was some wild and crazy shit happening in Tibet, and credible miraculousness.

6 Months to 6 Figures – Peter Voogd

Sharp, punchy, entrepreneurial book. I rate it.

The Metabarons – Alejandro Jodorowsky (comic)

Jodorowsky’s masterwork, in a number of ways. A lot of what would have gone into Dune made its way into this. Mindfuckingly epic account of a thoroughly unreasonable lineage as they tear the galaxy apart.

Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Read a chapter, Gaiman doing storytelling, was not in the mood.

Providence

Moore does Lovecraft in Lovecraft era. Still coming out. Nice.

The Death Cure – James Dashner

Third part of the Maze Runner trilogy. Saw the first movie randomly, the second movie is way better and I recommend it, read this cos I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the third movie. A lot must have changed in the second book to movie adaptation. Anyhow. Decent enough. Very YA.

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

Absolutely extraordinary. Pulitzer prize winning journalist gets to know slum dwellers in Mumbai over several years. Writes up an eventful period of their lives as a novel, essentially nonfiction but written novelistically and based on immense interviews etc. Shattering, profound.

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself – David Lipsky

Lipsky spent a week interviewing David Foster Wallace on the last leg of the book tour launching Infinite Jest, as Wallace was in the process of going stratospheric. Fascinating as an account of a guy coping with the descent of fame, and as an insight into a remarkable mind. A film of it came out, End of the Tour, haven’t seen it.

Hard To Be A God – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Russian SF from way back. Russian observer-scientists go to another planet to document the Renaissance happening in a medieval world… except it doesn’t seem to be happening, if anything, a reversion to barbarism is underway. Great novel. I read it cos I saw the insane, incomprehensible film version at the film festival a year or two ago, and wanted to know what the hell actually happened.

The Magus – John Fowles

The first 3/4 of this are an astonishing novel. The end, well, lost me a bit. But hell, the quality of Fowle’s prose, and the intensity and observation he brings to bear, are exceptional, and the dizzying weirdness of the island and the elaborate charade the narrator is caught up in is unforgettable.

The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

Modern Chinese SF, apparently a bestseller there. Very unique take on first contact and Earth being invaded by aliens, through a very different cultural and historic lens. Recommended.

Killer in the Rain – Raymond Chandler

Early novella from Chandler.

Teaching the Dog to Sing – Jonathan Carroll

Recent novella from Carroll, whom I hadn’t read in years. Alright, I guess.

Harvest – Jim Crace

Multi award winning Irish novel of the end of the era of peasant farming before enclosure. Beautifully written.

Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy’s most intense and darkest vision of the old West. If it was the first thing of his I’d read it would have taken my head off. Incredible evocation of landscape and nature and random brutality and the ugliness of humanity, in astonishing prose.

A Visit From The Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

Pulitzer prize winning novel, told through a bunch of different tangentially related characters set over many years, about growing up and the changes time wrings. Really well done.

The King’s Justice – Stephen Donaldson

Fantasy novella from a real master of fantasy. Good good shit.

Beasts of No Nation – Uzodinma Uweale

Novel about a child soldier somewhere in Africa caught up in a cycle of senseless violence and destruction. Short and unpleasant. Weirdly similar vibe to Blood Meridian, come to think of it.

 

Lovecraft, magic, and belief

“A few months before he died Lovecraft wrote to a friend, ‘If the Necronomicon legend continues to grow, people will end up believing in it.'”

— Grimoires: A History of Magic Books – Owen Davies (p268)

reading second half of 2014

Reading slowed dramatically in the second half of last year, or at least my enthusiasm for blogging about it did.

Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm – Stephen Harrod Buhner

Took over a month on this. Easily one of the most extraordinary books I have ever read. Top ten recommendation, all time. Was published in 2014. Buy it now. Will attempt a proper review soon.

Batman: Odyssey – Neal Adams

If you are a comics person, go find this and read it right now. Don’t find anything out about it. Just trust that it is the most bugfuck and deranged piece of Batman ever. There are no words. Astounding. (If you aren’t a comics person, read Sandman or Watchmen or something instead, and become a comics person.)

If you know you won’t read this, read this extremely entertaining summary of the first few issues here.

…here is the best quote from a Neal Adams interview about Odyssey:

Q: Can you give us an overview of the plot?
Adams: I cannot give you an overview of the plot.

The Arabian Nightmare – Robert Irwin

Pretty unclassifiable novel by a historian of Arabian storytelling modes, and obviously influenced by them. Dreamlike and bizarre, labyrinthine and dusky, deeply deeply weird. Fun but eventually perhaps does not combine its wonderful parts into something more.

Fasting – Stephen Harrod Buhner

Book about the physical, psychological and spiritual components and effects of fasting for longer durations. Lucid and concise.

Supergods – Grant Morrison (skim)

Skimmed this. Interestingish history and philosophy of modern era comics, but not what I was looking for.

Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson

Really good, deceptively simple book of short stories, mostly dealing with down and outs and addicts of various stripes. Would definitely re read. There is something going on here.

The Search for a Moral Compass – Kenan Malik  (skim)

Quite an epic undertaking, attempting to look at more or less the development of moral attitudes of the whole world over time. Inevitably does some disservice to particular viewpoints, as no one can have a good enough grip on all of them to comment authoritatively. Still would be worth returning to.

Reality is Broken – Jane McGonigal (skim)

Interesting enough musing on the relation between games and reality.

Zero to One – Peter Thiel

Billionaire founder of Paypal and Palantine, friends with many other billionaire tech founders, gives his take on how to found a successful tech company. Vital reading if that is your interest. Pretty fascinating for its iconoclastic take on capitalism in general, if you are an economics minded person.

Behold the Man – Michael Moorcock

Messed up dude with a bit of a Christ complex gets in a time machine and goes back to the time of Christ and kind of ends up becoming Christ except worse.

Life’s Missing Instruction Manual – Joe Vitale (skim)

Compendium of insights gathered across an interesting guy’s life. Actually seemed pretty decent.

Money: Master The Game – Tony Robbins

Possibly completely essentially; Robbins first book in 20 years. Robbins has amazing access to many of the most successful investors in history, and models their methods and teaches them to you. Incredible resource. Need to get back to it and finish it.

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

Won the Booker Prize a few years ago. Really well done short novel mostly about ageing and how our perspective and memory changes.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Patrick Rothfuss

Novella. Peculiar, light, and ethereal, much like its only character. Rothfuss explores the reality of a minor but fascinating character from his epic novel series, and comes up with this totally weird, autistic yet hauntingly close to how we all work, thing. Not quite sure what anyone unfamiliar with the series would make of it, but would be very curious to find out. I think it is interesting enough to stand on its own.

Edge of Dark Water – Joe R Lansdale

Sort of like a dark nightmare Huckleberry Finn. After the death of a friend, dustbowl-era american south kids in the wops make a break for their future down the river, pursued by hideous family, corruption and evil. A great voice and realisation of character and setting. Occasionally nasty but never unbearably so.

 

Buckminster Fuller on changing perspective

 

“Repeatedly, on different occasions, as I gazed heavenward at the celestial orbs, I struggled to perceive myself as looking “out” instead of “up”.

It worked.

Suddenly, on a drive in the Mojave Desert, there came a moment as sun and horizon began to merge, when I really was looking out from the surface of Spaceship Earth. I found myself feeling for the first time a passenger on a great sphere hurtling through the cosmos. Venus was just coming into view, and the nearly full moon was at the eastern horizon. Sun, moon and planet described the great arc of the ecliptic. At that instant I knew the location of poles and Equator. I felt a sense of place, of proper relation, that I had never known before.

My awareness of the world, the whole universe, was revolutionized, transfigured, in an instant. For the first time, my felt experience of reality was coinciding with what my intellect had long known to be true. It was an initiation, a rite of passage. I felt for the first time a citizen of the cosmos. I was no longer tied to a language-conditioned flat earth.

And there was a sense of communion with all humanity, with all living things, in the knowledge that we were all related through one common center, earth’s center of gravity, all passengers on an infinitely precious star-faring vessel.

I know others who have shared the same experience. It is joyous, in that something old is suddenly seen in a new light. It is awesome, because it affords a glimpse at a reality far grander than we have been conditioned to perceive. And it is sobering, because it reveals how deeply conditioned (mesmerized, if you will) we can all be by habitual patterns of language and thought.”

 

– From Fuller’s Earth – Buckminster Fuller

 

Lispector on writing

 

“I write because I have nothing else to do in the world: I was left over and there is no place for me in the world of men, I write because I’m desperate and I’m tired, I can no longer bear the routine of being me and if not for the always novelty that is writing, I would die symbolically every day.”

– from ‘Hour of the Star’ by Clarice Lispector

 

reading july 2014

Hmm. Reading seems to have resumed apace. At least a lot of skimming.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth – Chris Brogan

Cheerleading for doing business your way, man, cos the world is your oyster if you are willing to march to the beat of your own drum, ra ra. Upbeat, good content but a little feel-good and all about the smart branding and having great anecdotes than having much new to say. More motivational than how-to. Solid though.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande

Doctor who pioneered the use of checklists for surgery (resulting in less infections, more lives and money saved, etc) explains the process by which this came about, and why checklists are simple and damn useful. Good stuff.

The Drawing of the Dark – Tim Powers

Goddamn this is good fun. Entertaining and wild and weird; a sort of historical fantasy with a kitchen sink approach. (Wondering how the hell I had not read Powers before. He was won pretty much every award that matters in the field.) Big ups.

The Life Coaching Handbook – Curly Martin

No-nonsense, even a little brutal; coaching with NLP and hard nosed business savvy. Useful.

The Inner Game Of Tennis – Timothy Gallwey

Brilliant. Probably the best self-help type book I have ever encountered. Uses learning to play tennis as a metaphor and worked example for how to live life itself. Totally recommended.

Who Fears Death? – Nnedi Okorafor

Awesome. Set in a future Africa, post-disaster, with lingering technology and resurgent magic, and a generally dystopic yet deeply African culture, thematically dealing with war crimes, abuse, and gender really well, while being an intense yet rollicking good read. Okorafor is a literature professor whose parents were Nigerian, and has visited a lot.)

Creative Visualisation – Shakti Gawain

Skimmed. Pleasant new age fluff, most notable perhaps for the occult sources it references in its select bibliography, and acknowledging its blatant steals from that area.

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? – Abu-Lughod

Really interesting book from an anthropologist with 20+ years field experience working with Muslim women taking on the Western portrayal and framing of Muslim women, and having a serious whack at feminism in the process. Excellent, recommended if the subject matter interests you.

Linchpin – Seth Godin

Godin rarely makes an impression on me, which is why I don’t really read him. Feel good create the future of culture ranting, scans well but lacking oomph.

Maori Mentoring and Paths To Wellbeing: Te Huarahi o te Ora – Rachael Selby and Alex Barnes

Not quite what I was looking for from the title. Book about a Maori community/hapu introducing a mentoring program and how it went.

Myths To Live By – Joseph Campbell

Yeah, Campbell really is amazing, eh? This set of lectures is brilliant. If you have never read Campbell, this is a pretty good place to start. Hero With a Thousand Faces is foundation to any understanding of story and psychology. This collection is more wide ranging but top shelf liquor all the way.

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Skimmed a bit. Polemic is a weird form. A mix of bang on truth to power, and ranting.

Selected Stories – Alice Munro

One of those literary writers who is kind of showing everyone else how to do it, but is less well known as she only writes short stories. Well worth it. Didn’t read enough of them to have a lot to say, but something I will buy and investigate further.

Transparent Things – Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov is highly energetic and obviously a genius but I really struggle to get into him or go back to him once I have put the book down. This well regarded novella seemed amazing for the first 15 pages, not sure why I didn’t get back to it.

The Marble Swarm – Dennis Cooper

Blurb quotes claim he is the most important transgressive novelist since Burroughs. Read 40 pages. Sort of interesting, and while indeed pretty twisted and transgressive, the palpable unreality of the characters, scenario, and everything meant I didn’t give a damn. Gleeful meaningless unpleasantness.

 

 

bacterial utopia or oblivion

 

Recently somehow came across this very interesting fellow: Stephen Harrod Buhner. Author of 20 or so books, a wide ranging scholar interested in all kinds of interesting stuff, I recently listened to a couple of interviews with him. Both were wide ranging and there was little overlap between them, and the content was at times so wild and exciting I ordered one of his books, which hasn’t happened in a while.

By way of a sampling of what I mean by wild and exciting: bacteria build cities with streets and buildings; plants take psychotropic drugs and respond to them in much the same way humans do; an apple tree can get itself drunk; if antibiotics stop working in the next 10-15 years, we will also lose surgery, as you can’t cut people open if they are susceptible to infection – the ramifications of this for modern medicine are total, and he argues we will return to herbal etc remedies by necessity, and has written books about herbal antibiotics and antivirals etc…

(A fascinating counterpoint to this is Craig Venter’s current work in creating synthetic life. Essentially, he can now analyse a bacteria, digitize its DNA, send that digital code around the world, and rebuild the organism synthetically from that digital code – while synthetic it will be alive and able to self-replicate etc. The speed with which this is becoming possible is what may save us from the failing of antibiotics. As Howard Bloom argued back in ’98 in Global Brain, we need to get our species wide global brain up and running to combat the billions of year old bacterial global brain that will otherwise kick our ass.

As Buckminster Fuller said, whether it will be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race until the very end; and this bacterial struggle is one of the clearest illustrations of that.)

Ultimately Buhner argues that the way out of all this is for people to reacquaint themselves with their thinking/feeling/sensing intuitive direct knowing and follow what that tells them. For example, the first generation of psychoanalysts were never trained, they just created the field. We have the ability in ourselves to come up with new things, and need to use it.

The thread of Buhner’s work I found most interesting is the plant intelligence side of things, and it is a fabulous extension of what Jeremy Narby was talking about in Intelligence in Nature back in 2005 and that I was writing about in my main nonfiction book about consciousness back in ’08. His compelling vision is of a very alive and aware cosmos in constant interaction and dialogue with itself, and his reasons for thinking this are electrifying.

So I am awaiting a book in the mail, with a reasonable hope it will be able to live up to expectation. Also, nice to feel intellectual stimulation again.

 

 

 

reading log for the past few months

Have not been reading anywhere near as much of late, a combination of being kinda busy, and just not quite that motivated to read. Anyway. Here is what my diary says I read. There was other stuff too, much browsed, particularly coaching and business related.

*

All Things Must Fight To Live – Mealer

War reporting from the Congo. The war there over the past decade has claimed more lives than any conflict since World War 2. Naturally it is massively under-reported, and chances are you know next to nothing about it, as I did.

So far I have only read one 50 page chapter, but it was pretty much the most disturbing thing I have ever read. You do not want to know. (Or, if you do, I can lend you the book.) Recently I observed that Game of Thrones was a really barbaric reflection of human action. In the light of Congolese reality, GoT is a pale reflection of what humans do to each other, and are doing, right now in the world. (Of course, we can barely even report on or acknowledge what is actually happening, but we can approach such things through the remove of story and trappings of fantasy.)

 Theaetetus – Plato

The founding book of philosophy of Epistemology. Plato is quite clever, and the dialogue is a really excellent form for exploring ideas. (Yes, somehow I had never read any Plato first hand.) Still going on this.

 Cinema – Helen Rickerby

Recent book of poetry by a friend of mine. Pretty good, darker and more intense in places than I expected. I enjoyed it. If poetry is your bag, well worth a look.

The Odyssey – Homer (T E Lawrence translation)

Laboured and long-winded story telling from another age, but still pretty entertaining. Contains many familiar iconic tales, and has obviously been massively influential. Gives new meaning to deus ex machina. Glad I finally got around to it; glad when it was over.

Ragnarok – AS Byatt

Quite beautiful retelling of Norse mythology, with an oddly personal framing story about belief. Short and worthy.

The Simulacra – Philip K Dick

Really excellent PKD novel from the 60s. Uncomfortably prescient social horror, his usual reality questioning themes through a more social control lens. Read it on one sitting, good times. Though this was not one of his best prose efforts stylistically, Dick is one of the authors I can pretty much always read, though I think I may now have read all of the obvious shining jewels in his output. One of the essential authors of the modern age. Still heaps of lesser known stuff to go though, so who knows.

 Getting Started in Personal and Executive Coaching – Fairley & Stout

 Purely focused on the business side of the coaching business. Extremely useful.

 Poor Charlie’s Almanack – Charlie Munger

Read some more of this. The last lecture is the most valuable one – the summation of his insight into human psychology, and his checklist for thought. A smart insanely successful guy telling you how he thinks; well worth tracking down.

 Business Stripped Bare – Richard Branson

I never realised Virgin was such a big deal, as they never really extended into the NZ market. A refreshing take on business, in any case, by the biggest maverick fish in the pond. Worth a skim.

Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer

Recent SF. Alright. Expedition on an exploration of a weird zone runs into weirdness. Light, easy and quick to read but sort of unsatisfying in the end. Go and read Roadside Picnic by Strugatsy instead, which is the obvious forerunner from a Russian SF in the 70s, as that is much more interesting, emotionally affective, and just better and more people should read it anyway.

The King In Yellow – Robert Chambers

Reread this classic of weird horror due to its True Detective links. The good stories are still pretty good. It must have read as completely mad at the time.

Weathercraft, Congress of the Animals, Fran – Jim Woodring

3 graphic novels featuring the inimitable Frank. The term psychedelic gets thrown around a bit too loosely, but Woodring’s art definitely falls in that category. His wordless narrations of cartoon animals in a bugfuck weird world with its own internal logic are like nothing else in art, and a definite treasure. Do yourself a favour and check it out if you are unfamiliar with his indescribable output.

Principia Discordia; or, How I Found Goddess, and What I Did To Her When I Found Her – Malaclypse the Younger

Random reread of this underground classic from the 60s. Hail Eris! Still very funny, still pretty genius, and still makes you think. You can make a religion out of anything; if you are doing it right, the good parts will flow through whatever vessel you give it.

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