A writer explores the true nature of human life.
Debut author Hester explains near the beginning of this brief but dense volume that it is “a book about perception and reality.” He argues that humans are currently “adrift in an illusion” and that it is necessary for everyone to return to reason. How exactly did things get like this? A hefty finger is pointed at myths. Take, for instance, the Garden of Eden. This famous story, the author argues, gives people false notions of good and evil. Ideas, like a lurking devil (represented by the serpent in the garden), have “helped suppress reality for thousands of years.” The reality is that humans have the ability to choose what they will do in life. It is not necessary to blame things on manifestations of evil. Nor is it essential to bow to figures who claim an elite access to God. Hester explains how he heard a pastor on the radio asking for donations, recalling “I could find no reason to choose to send money to another human believing he knew what my creator wanted or that he had more access to him than I already had.” In general, the author views religion as “the gateway to the loss of reason,” as it is so often used to create fear in believers while generating wealth and power for a few. What is the antidote to such a state of affairs? Hester’s advice is simple: Humans must take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. Readers are even given some practical tips, including that people should not try to control others. There is also the reminder that the only descent for humans is “the fall from reason.”
The text is presented in a series of short chapters, some more abstract than others. Certain statements seem open to argument. Hester contends that “the human desire for more than reality is designed to allow will always lead to frustrations and mental illnesses.” But what is the threshold for what “reality is designed to allow”? What mental illnesses does this desire cause? In one chapter, readers are told that “groups of two or more humans gathered together cannot be reasonable,” although this claim is itself somewhat unreasonable. Surely there must be one example of a group conducting itself sensibly. Portions in which concrete examples are given make for more potent passages. An analogy about a hypothetical person’s imagined need for a new car (when this individual already has a perfectly fine old car) helps to illustrate how readers can clutter their own lives. The example, though brief, is relatable. In the end, the book’s positive tone also creates some captivating sentiments. Although the author claims this work is not philosophical, Hester ultimately contends that individuals’ lives are theirs to create. Whether or not readers may agree with some of the arguments about illusions, it is still their choice to do what they will with the intriguing material.
While vague at times, this work offers some digestible thoughts on what constitutes reality.