An academic and experiential guide that requires rereading for absorption.

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DIMENSIONS OF BEING

AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE TO CONSCIOUSNESS

A handbook to consciousness as rich and complex as the topic it explores.

Alliende’s book interweaves science, anthropology, history, psychology, pharmacology, string theory and memoir in a tour-de-force examination of the existence and nature of consciousness. The universe, our planet, nature and everything else in existence consists of fractals, says the author, with each individual component containing the same core characteristics as the whole of existence. Alliende investigates and painstakingly demonstrates how the evolution of life, society, the developmental path of the human psyche, the chakra system and the author’s own life have all developed according to a similar pattern and structure. This ambitious and comprehensive work, which is both scientific and arcane (bordering on overwhelming; this is no quick, light read), reveals intensely personal information. The author harnesses his wide-ranging material with a framework based on Timothy Leary’s eight-circuit model, exploring consciousness and all its components, from the material plane of survival to the causal plane of spirit. The interwoven autobiography illustrates and makes accessible the theoretical sections of the text, while also providing a model for living in connection with the greater consciousness. Alliende is a transpersonal therapist who regularly practices and guides others through many of the consciousness-enhancing techniques he surveys (from meditation to gardening and other community-building concepts) and shares experiences about raves and hallucinogenic drugs. Exercises throughout the book encourage the reader to join him in moving from passive understanding to actively expanding awareness. Of these, the meditation techniques are particularly well-crafted and inviting, while other suggestions are more likely to spark thought than follow-through (“Go to a school and witness the teaching process”). Also thought-provoking is his suggestion that the Internet and social media link us all to a greater consciousness. That link, and increasing reliance on technology, he argues, could save the Earth—and our continued existence.

An academic and experiential guide that requires rereading for absorption.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478151876

Page Count: 410

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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