"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
I loved and appreciated this book more than the four stars might suggest. I loved the way it was formated. I loved revisiting essays I had read previously in New York TImes, Salon, the Atlantic, BAE 2007. I loved the ability to again be surprised by DFW's wit, charm, inteligence, and in the last couple essays anger. Having recently lost a loved one in a rather dramatic fashion, I was also taken back those ordurous emotions I felt on September 12/13, 2008 when I heard that DFW killed himself. In the middle of this enormous banking/economic collapse, losing DFW (to others) might have seemed small. But almost 4.5 years later my 401(k) has recovered but I have yet to get over DFW killing himself. A tad dramatic? I'm sure. Anyway, back to my review of Both Flesh and Not. Part of what I loved about this series of essays was how the publisher used his definitions and usage notes as paragraph breaks. It was brilliant and insightful and actually VERY intimate.
Both Robert Petkoff and Katherine Kellgren^1 did a fantastic job with narration.
1. It does make me wonder how Katherine will put this on her resume. Does she say she was a narrator for Both Flesh and Not or a footnote narrator? Anyway, the narration worked well and showed how Hachette could have addressed the narration debacle that was Infinite Jest.
A solid survey of behavioral economics literature related to the premise that the wide range of choices we have (what to read, how to read it, what rating to give it, where to post our review) actually ends up making us unhappier (tyranny of small decisions). Schwartz's summary is similar to a lot of those pop-economic books that seem to pop up regularly and sell quite well because they both tell us something we kinda already suspected, but also gently surprise us with counter-intuitive ideas at the same time. We are surprised, we are also a little validated: just little bit of supply with a very light touch demand.
This book belongs snug on the bookshelf next to: anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational, Nudge, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), etc. All interesting, all worth the time (as long as the time is < 5 hrs), but none of them are brilliant. They are all Gladwell-like in their reductionism (this is why they all sell so well to the business community and are pimped heavily by Forbes to TED). I am both attracted and repelled by the form. They seem to span the fissure between academic and pop, between economics and self-help. I read them and I end up feeling like I know a bit more about myself, and NOW I'm just disappointed in that bastard for a couple more rational reasons.
"Earth is an insane asylum, to which the other planets deport their lunatics."
- Voltaire, in Memnon the Philosopher
I remember when I was first exposed to Scientology. A good friend of mine in high school suggested I read L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth*. I politely declined. Space opera just wasn't my thing. But I never forgot L. Ron Hubbard. Occasionally, in used bookstores I'd see one of his other books: Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, The Way To Happiness, etc. Again, I would politely walk by. But I've always been intrigued by this funky religion. Perhaps, it has something to do with being a Mormon (we've got our own funky origin, hypergraphiac founder, cosmology, etc).
Anyway, I found Wright's take on Scientology fascinating. Not just as a look into a visible and sometimes very troubled 20th Century religious movement (and the people in it), but also because it funhouse mirrors ALL religions. Like Neil deGrasse "Awesome" Tyson said in a Daily Beast interview in March of 2015, "So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy? Let’s realize this: What matters is not who says who’s crazy, what matters is we live in a free country. You can believe whatever you want, otherwise it’s not a free country—it’s something else."
Going Clear is scary because it makes you think not just that Scientologists, but we ALL are just a bit nuts and in need of a bunch of crazy pills.
* Mitt Romney's favorite book.