A thoroughly researched argument for a nonbinary approach to understanding the world that’s likely to find both fervent...

Moving Beyond Duality

A manifesto and manual for readers looking to expand their capacities for kindness and mindfulness while also minimizing harm in the world at large.

In this third volume of her psychosociological work, Riddle builds on the structure established in Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen (2010) and Positive Harmlessness in Practice (2010). In these works, she offers an overall prescription for a world in which people are aware of their biases and actively work to combat the physical and metaphorical violence they produce. She argues against a binary, A-or-B view of the world, contending that this leads to depersonalization and objectification of people or groups considered “other.” Instead, her book offers guidance on embracing a growth mindset, becoming aware of implicit biases, and developing a collaborative social structure that acknowledges the dignity of all participants. Appendices provide further information on the use of gendered language, the science of “nonhuman persons” (such as animals and plants), and the American Anthropological Association’s definition of race. A thorough notes section will help guide readers through the book’s source material. Those same readers, though, are likely to be divided on Riddle’s approach, finding it either inspiring or abstruse depending on their reactions to language such as, “We commit micro-instances of ‘purposeful backgrounding’ when we actively avoid another person,” and concepts such as animals’ right to be paid for their labor and “ecocide” (“the extensive damage to, destruction of, or loss of ecosystem(s)”) as part of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. But whether readers agree or disagree with her arguments, there’s no dispute over the book’s strengths as a work of scholarship. It’s fully grounded in both theory and observation, drawing on a wide range of published research, and its fully developed, coherent arguments are likely to find even skeptics in agreement with some elements. Overall, readers will acknowledge that this is a timely contribution to the national discussion of privilege, prejudice, and making the world a better place.

A thoroughly researched argument for a nonbinary approach to understanding the world that’s likely to find both fervent adherents and strong critics.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-8274-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2016

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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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