"Hey boys, how's the water?" —DFW
This is an ongoing list of 2021 reading, or thereabouts (time may be an illusion).
Previously I've written about making a database, and simply keeping a list here contributes to that effort. I also have bookshelves...not everything needs to be digitized, even though the bookshelves themselves are in the grand scheme not much different from the screen, as far as I can tell (AFAICT), except reading a book off a shelf, book in hands vs. on a screen is a slower, more peaceful experience, even if this experience is a kind of illusion.
Reading, I think, has considerably decreased my temptation to arrogance. Sometimes a single book can overturn the reading of the previous dozen. It is quite a feeling to receive a resonance—and often not a pleasurable resonance—the detection of which suggests I'm in the "right place at the right time".
But lately I've found I have inner work to do which might be learned also by simply sitting quietly by myself.
I've wondered if doing this^ will allow me to settle into more creative imagination, which may be what each of us is best prepared and equipped to do, before our attention was turned elsewhere, often from a very young age.
But before I turn to that creative imagination—which may include completing three novels—I wanted to summarize my last year of reading.
What I've found useful:
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Stressors help us. Also, removing stressors weakens that which benefits from uncertainty and stress. Work out with a barbell. Don't eat the same thing everyday. Trial and error works.
Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Tawk is cheap. Put something on the line. Soul in the game is even deeper and more meaningful. From Gnostic perspective, I wonder if Spirit in the game is what we're after, even if for most of us it isn't easily accessible.
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform The World, by David Deutsch
Seek better explanations. If we do, there's no telling what we might discover. Possibly leaves out bigger picture in the realms someone like David Icke explores, but still potentially important as a baseline ahead of reading someone like Icke, since Deutsch seems to synthesize physics, mathematics, and philosophy.
The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace
"...a whole culture can persist in a state of immaturity and blindness to itself," writes Jon Baskin in Ordinary Unhappiness, in reflection on Wallace's posthumously published work. I commented on this book here.
Will the IRS exist as we know it, a few months from now? If it doesn't, Wallace's book could be a window into its convoluted operation. If you've read Infinite Jest, and have heard Wallace describe it as a sad book, and understand what he means by that, then you might be able to appreciate The Pale King too. I commend to you this musical recording ("what the hell is water?") of Wallace's graduation speech in 2005, "This is water."
Everything You Need To Know But Have Never Been Told, by David Icke
Sweeping. It seems like he's at least partially incorrect on Trump, but has shown to be right AFAICT on many topics, many of which he began discussing in the 90s. Chapter on Gnostics was new for me (investigate for yourself, I dare not summarize). Loves triumphs over fear. Energy flows where attention goes.
The Deep Rig: How Election Fraud Cost Donald J. Trump the White House: By a Man Who did not Vote for Him (Or what to send friends who ask, "Why do you doubt the integrity of the 2020 Election?"), by Patrick Byrne
Best part for me: when Byrne, Powell, and Flynn meet Trump in December 2020. Election fraud has occurred numerous times historically. See Robert A. Caro's Working for a banal example in LBJ's Box 13 scandal in the 1948 Texas senate election, where over 200 votes were "found" six days after the election was thought to be concluded. Byrne's story is more interesting and I learned a few things about election procedure in our advanced technological state. Helps understanding Maricopa ("we the people") County.
Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life, by Jordan B. Peterson
Listening to and acting upon JBP's simple rules for life, now 24 of them, has changed my approach to living, as it has millions of others. The fact that he was relentlessly attacked for calling out Bill C16 in Canada—government enforced speech—first put me onto him. I'm not sure about his analysis of Egyptian gods, however. But, did enjoy hearing him speak in person, as well as his lectures on Genesis.
The following rule was useful to me, since it has become apparent that imbalanced emotions have led to psychological stress, and worse, but that once clarified (once the past is changed), my emotions regained balance.
Rule IX: If old memories still upset you, write them down carefully and completely.
And, for those who, like me, are tempted to lean overmuch into intellectual reasoning:
Rule XI: Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful, or arrogant.
The Culture of Critique, by Kevin MacDonald
See chapter 5 on the Frankfurt School of Social Research. Seems like there are thematic lines drawn to CRT today.
Un-Restricted Warfare, by Col. Quio Lian and Col. Want Xiang Sui
How warfare is conducted now. Much is not out in the open and won't be in the "news". Written in the 70s and translated from PLA documents.
Consilience, by Edward O. Wilson
Found chapter 11, Ethics and Religion, worthwhile.
The Great Leveler, by Walter Scheidel
Compare with Les Chose Cachées Depuis La Fondation du Monde, since both deal with the problem of violence en masse. Or with Matt Taibbi's The Divide.
Open Your Mind To Change, by Martin Geddes
Banned by Amazon. Here's a PDF MG made available upon that announcement.
What I've found perplexing:
Do books like Silence of the Lambs draw attention away from actually grotesque conspiracies, given the focus on a genius solo supervillain?
Lolita, similarly. Yes, books like these show I can through adept prose and storytelling sympathize with monsters. But Nietzsche also warned us not to look too long, lest we become one. Maybe our shadows, in Jungian terms, must be integrated, not suppressed to be unleashed without regulation.
What I've found lacking:
Most history... since it's written by winners and academics and published, often, by publishers who are monitored. Obviously, I'm both speculating and making a sweeping statement—many will understand this intuitively or as common sense. Books like Everything You Need To Know But Have Never Been Told do a good job of synthesizing this perspective (warning: note even your understanding of perspective).
However, I've found titles like Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold, by Sterling & Peggy Seagrave, useful. Here's how the forward ends:
As a precaution, should anything odd happen, we have arranged for this book and all its documentation to be put up on the Internet at a number of sites. If we are murdered, readers will have no difficulty figuring out who 'they' are.
Books that open in such a way draw my attention, not only for their risk-taking but also for their plans to avoid censorship. These authors have had to work very hard to share what they've come to understand against considerable opposition.
Yet to read Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror, but I'm intuiting it has connections with books like Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker, but I can't say because I'm yet to read it.
Will likely be rereading some of what I've found useful. And having fun reading a few novels I enjoyed prior.
Also, EW's Geometric Unity v1.0.
If you're looking for a good, fast novel, science fiction like Dune but based in America, my friend wrote The New Republic of Texas, which if you write me—email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com—I can have him send a copy, since he managed to foretell much of what we are seeing culturally, technologically, and militarily as we speak.
But, as I wrote in the opening, I'm eager to engage in sit quietly, swim, bike, paddle, windsurf?, paint?, love those who love me, and engage in other various forms of creative imagination. Maybe those three novels waiting to oscillate and vibrate into your consciousness will get my attention. If so, they'll show up here, or on erikvanmechelen.net. Probably not until later in 2021, or 2022 (in the most popular calendar).
Be well, love wins over fear, and remember the senses are not all there is.