INCREDIBLE AH-HA MOMENTS

IDEAS YOU WON'T STOP TALKING ABOUT

Our fate lies not in our stars but in our feet, argues this self-help manifesto.

Nestoiter’s unpredictable treatise flutters off in many directions but returns to his unconventional theory that the neurological challenge of bipedal balancing drove human brain evolution, and that the environment surrounding the feet, our primary balancing appendages, decisively influences the psyche. Unfortunately, paved surfaces and comfortable shoes make our balancing faculties atrophy and sever our podiatric connection to reality, causing emotional and spiritual distress. (Stable, high-grip shoes “utterly obliterate the information your soles are relaying to your soul,” he warns, but tottering on high heels provides a balancing workout that helps women “stay sharp, witty, alert and perceptive.”) Nestoiter interrupts his off-the-wall analysis of the mind-foot problem with bizarre digressions on everything from mass extinctions to the link between flatulence and obesity (“do not hold gas for more than thirty minutes, or you will never be thin again”), while an appendix offers random tips on alleviating dandruff, estimating the diameter of your small intestine and warding off evil spirits with salt. Interspersed are unctuous sales pitches for his “Balance Professor,” a balance-pipe that provides a “true therapeutic, deep-tissue foot massage” along with a soothing brain tune-up. Nestoiter’s opus reads like a parody of an autodidact’s nutty theory of everything, though he seems to mean it seriously. His ideas are exhaustively though ineptly reasoned out in an earnest, conversational style that seems lucid until you stop to think about his arguments, but the book bogs down under slabs of amateur scholarship and mathematical calculations and grows repetitious as he circles back to his obsessions. He allows that the material is “a little tedious” but insists that readers “not skip pages” lest they misunderstand his unconventional conclusions. Nestoiter’s eccentric ideas actually get harder to follow the less of it one skips, but at times his Yogi Berra-esque pronouncements—“Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once”—attain an accidental profundity. Nestoiter’s grab bag provides some unusual food for thought, though it can be a little hard to swallow.

 

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-1468010213

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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