THE BREATHING CATHEDRAL

FEELING OUR WAY INTO A LIVING COSMOS

These ponderings on the meaning of life find theoretical concepts and notional fancies so thick on the ground that readers may wish to approach the book armed with a machete. Personal meaning and orientation, argues freelance writer Heyneman, were thrown to the wind after the Copernican revolution, the Reformation, and the discovery of the New World. God was no longer in his heaven, time and space became infinite, and we lost our cosmological guideposts. Heyneman yearns for a simple and elegant order to help us reorient ourselves, to gain ``that all- embracing communal image of the whole of things and our place and function in it.'' In her search for a new cosmology, the author combs through hundreds of worldviews; explores three-dimensional surfaces buried in four-dimensional space; details the supposed balance of things prior to the Big Bang; and wades into the deep waters of the teachings of the mystic G.I. Gurdjieff. Heyneman's new cosmology take its cues from the very latest in matter/energy- time/space theories (which, she says, have returned boundaries, and hence the possibility of symmetry, to our lives), coupled with, and informed by, her appreciation of earlier cosmographies. A sample of Heyneman's requirements for self-realization includes: a sense of our centers of spiritual and physical gravity; regeneration of the memory palace via an architectural exploration; and a balanced, grounded life. Historical echoes abound throughout, as do some extremely powerful moments—including, for instance, the guided tour Heyneman gives through the mind-scape of her own memory palace, and the disturbing return to her family's summer home. A convincing vision quest that may, however, lose readers in its mazelike abundance of references and quotes. (Thirty-three line drawings—not seen)

Pub Date: June 10, 1993

ISBN: 0-87156-687-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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