A vibrant, eclectic sojourn into the meaning of it all, hindered by laborious writing and poor organization.

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Love Them Back to LIFE

A BRAIN THEORY OF EVERYTHING

A sprawling theoretical explanation of the human condition.

In her latest work of nonfiction, author Page (Isis Code, 2013) puts forth a massively complex argument for a theoretical model she calls the LIFE biosystem (“LIFE is an acronym for ‘law inherent to the five elements,’ and bio means life”). According to LIFE, there exists a Master Model that guides both the individual life of every person and the evolution of nature itself. For happiness and health to exist, humans must live in harmony with that universal blueprint. Drawing on a staggering array of sources that range from neuroscience to religious history, Page delves into the details of this model and the manifold facets of its expression. Most central are the feminine and masculine polarities, which she defines as “two great forces, mirrors to each other…the feminine polarity is receptive, while the masculine one is expressive.” Healing the ills of the present day, Page argues, will involve rebuilding our society to better support the feminine polarity and the love that stems from it. While Page includes abundant evidence for her claims, that evidence is often couched in such opaque terms that her reasoning is difficult to follow. One typical passage reads: “The bulk of humanity has lost the ability of a global approach because the phase we have embarked upon requires an ultrafocused point of view in a punctual manner.” The citations throughout are extensive, but they also include Wikipedia and other murkily defined sources. What’s more, the book packs an enormous punch of information without providing much narrative structure to support it, bouncing from nutrition advice to personal memoir to Jungian analysis and back again. There’s a polymath vitality here, and Page’s enthusiasm for her work is obvious, but the overall effect is overwhelming. That said, many of Page’s observations ring with an intuitive wisdom that lurks behind the book’s outward chaos. Few would disagree with her impassioned calls for a more balanced, loving world, and interested readers will find plenty of compelling factoids and starting points for further study.

A vibrant, eclectic sojourn into the meaning of it all, hindered by laborious writing and poor organization.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491747292

Page Count: 432

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2015

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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