A smorgasbord of literary and other delights
Switching gears this week — rather than an in-depth review and musings around a book I’ve read recently, I’m going to let you know which books I’m currently reading so you can read along too, if you so wish. And I’m also throwing in a few other recommendations for podcasts, courses and a movie.
As usual, I have several books on the go:
The Psychology of Totalitarianism, by Mattias Desmet (audiobook)
This just came out last week, and I bought it after hearing Mattias on Aubrey Marcus’s podcast (see below). Using the Covid pandemic as his starting point, he identifies and analyses the phenomenon of “mass formation hypnosis” — in other words, how societies fall into a shared narrative based on our fears and weaknesses, rather than on observation and critical thinking. It’s a very fitting follow-on to 1984, which I reviewed recently.
If you passionately believe that global lockdowns were the right thing, and that Covid really was an existential risk to humanity, you may find it challenging reading — but that is all the more reason to read it. Or start with the AMP podcast interview: Why People Willingly Give Up Their Freedoms.
Deer and Thunder: Indigenous Ways of Restoring the World, by Arkan Lushwala (paperback)
According to the blurb, “Deer & Thunder shows us the way to remember what it is to be a real human being. It shows us the way to return to our true home, our true nature, the place where we are one with the Earth and capable of nourishing all that lives. According to Arkan, technological changes toward cleaner forms of energy production are important, but not enough. Humanity must undergo a shift in consciousness. In order to continue living on this beautiful planet, our modern cultures need to cultivate a mind and a heart that make the protection of life an incontestable priority.”
Arkan Lushwala is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes and writes in a style that is clear, simple, and deeply powerful. And I couldn’t agree more that a shift in consciousness is what is needed. (See my forthcoming book, Ocean in a Drop, due out in November this year.)
The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry, by Rupert Sheldrake (e-book)
“The biggest scientific delusion of all is that science already knows the answers.”
What I most appreciate about Rupert Sheldrake — apart from his quite excellent initials 🙂 — is that he dares to step way outside the scientific box to ask really, really good questions about the nature of reality, in contrast to the narrow frame of reference of many scientists.
“I have spent all my adult life as a scientist, and I strongly believe in the importance of the scientific approach. Yet I have become increasingly convinced that the sciences have lost much of their vigour, vitality and curiosity. Dogmatic ideology, fear-based conformity and institutional inertia are inhibiting scientific creativity.”
He sets out to challenge ten central tenets of conventional science:
1. Everything is essentially mechanical.
2. All matter is unconscious.
3. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).
4. The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same for ever.
5. Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
6. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
7. Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains.
8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
9. Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.
So… big questions, and he comes up with some convincing answers. I love his idea that the universe is not governed by fixed laws, but rather by evolving habits. And even more I love his searing question to materialists who claim that we are not intentional beings exercising free will, but merely beings driven blindly by our biology:
“Is your own belief in materialism determined by unconscious processes in your brain, rather than reason, evidence and choice?”
Aubrey Marcus has an interesting mix of guests, exploring spirituality, consciousness, philosophy, science, and psychedelics.
Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts has a strong environmental bent, endearingly mixed with laddish banter and lots of swearing to prevent it getting too earnest.
Accidental Gods, with Manda Scott, describes itself as “Exploring the liminal space between science and spirituality, philosophy and politics, art, creativity — working towards the conscious evolution of humanity” — and I can’t improve on that as a recommendation.
I started writing a blog post on Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, and may post it next week. You may have heard of it as the film where Emma Thompson goes full frontal nude, which is indeed a part of it, but very far from all of it. In this press conference in Berlin, Emma T does a great job of describing the issues it raises, around shame, bodies, and women’s desires. The film is beautifully intimate — most of it just a man and a woman in a hotel room over the course of 4 meetings in which all is bared — literally. It was filmed in 19 days and probably didn’t cost very much, but its simplicity only enhances its emotional power.
Automatic Writing: There’s one more day to sign up for Mike Dooley’s 21-day course on automatic writing. And no, I’m not on commission. I’ll admit, I find Michael Sandler’s way of speaking a little irritating, but that’s just me — and the content makes it worth bearing with. It’s my way of coaxing my reluctant early-morning self into meditation and journaling. Choose your price, starting at $27.
The Gene Keys: This powerful modality and tool for contemplation, by Richard Rudd, is a cross between astrology, Human Design, the I-Ching, the Kabbalah, with a bit of Jungian psychology and genetics thrown in. You can get a free profile that tells you about your life purpose, relationships, and path to prosperity, but to really get the benefits you need to dive in deeper by taking courses and buying the books — although there are also tons of free resources including videos and meditations on his beautifully-designed website. I’m studying the Gene Keys with a group of wonderful friends, which is really helping to integrate the learning.
So that’s what’s keeping me out of mischief at the moment. I hope you found at least one thing in this smorgasbord of delights to tempt you!