A compendium of aphorisms aimed at helping readers achieve contentment.
Byer’s debut attempts to differentiate between pleasure and happiness. According to the author, this distinction hinges on the notions that pleasure is basal, “the effect of our desires as an instinctive motivational process,” and that happiness is only possible when one’s “higher thinking” overrides those instincts. When one concentrates only on pleasure, he says, it results in stress and anxiety: “To become free we must control what controls us,” Byer writes, “and that is us.” To help readers achieve “higher thinking,” Byer offers a collection of 3,300 axioms, grouped around the key concepts of “Peace,” “Desire and Fear,” “Pleasure,” “Truth,” and “Wisdom,” among others. These axioms vary considerably in quality and impact. Some are bland statements of fact, such as “We seem to go through our lives without knowing why we do what we do.” Others are instructional: “We rationalize our desires by providing plausible but untrue reasons for our conduct.” Life, according to Byer, is the discovery of the relationship among nature, society, and ourselves, and “our truth is the ability to know that the cause of our discontent was us.” This epigrammatic approach makes the book compulsively readable. However, it also lends the collection an opaque quality that would have been considerably lessened if the author had elaborated more on his ideas. His opening discussion of the structural difference between pleasure and happiness, for example, is tantalizingly brief, and it will no doubt leave readers wanting more in-depth analysis and fewer tossed-off maxims.
A thought-provoking, if uneven, collection designed to clarify the true nature of happiness.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)