Vernon’s short nonfiction debut consists of seven “Note books” full of apparently random, koanlike utterances covering various conceptions of inner peace, personal enlightenment and, above all, the nature of paradise, which Vernon only sporadically links with any kind of organized religion or codified afterlife. (Christianity is mentioned more often than any other denomination but never dogmatically.) Rather, he seems to conceive paradise as an internal state of mind, a calmness of the heart, a thing to have rather than a place to go. Several of Vernon’s tips are fairly straightforward New-Age spiritualism: “Have a more humanised culture. Be enchanted. Be easy not attempting control. Aim to become carefree.” His approach is nonjudgmental and stress-free, accentuating serenity over striving: “Paradise doesn’t need a Christ to prepare a place for us,” he writes. The impact of these simple, encouraging messages is significantly blunted, however, by the presence of a great many head-scratchingly impenetrable pronouncements: e.g., “Infinity, if it exists has no end to finiteness,” or “The appropriate description of pleasure is pleasure,” or “An infinite description perhaps goes past infinity in reasonable knowledge.” Beyond such weird utterances, there are many portions of Vernon’s book that slip from being strange to simply garbled: “More pleasure than otherwise is not a larger total, which is infinite, but larger during infinity, which is better”; or “The bible (sic) is not very high. Just good appears better and better,” and so on. A strong edit would eliminate these bizarre malapropisms, but as the text stands, readers may spend as much time striving to understand the text as they do trying to reach enlightenment.
An occasionally insightful but extremely uneven exposition of inner serenity.