An intriguing, if all too brief, consideration of human evolution.

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THE ALLERGY CODE

A STORY OF HUMANITY’S EVOLUTION, SPACE, AND CONSCIOUSNESS

A debut book offers radical predictions about the evolution of the human race and its future home. 

According to Bhatia, allergies have been increasing for decades, rising to the level of a worldwide epidemic. Some of this is attributable to environmental causes—pollution, climate change, and the migration spawned by globalization. There are causes internal to the body as well, including the unprecedented consumption of processed and genetically modified food. But a deeper way to understand the onslaught of allergies, avers Bhatia, is as an “evolutionary mechanism,” a lever when pulled that pushes humanity to a more advanced plane of existence. As the Earth becomes increasingly uninhabitable, humans will be compelled to relocate to more hospitable environments, catalyzing an incremental but ultimately massive move to space. And a combination of sociobiological and technological innovations will also make it likely that humans will be able to rewrite their DNA, willfully participating in the next successive stages of their evolution. The ultimate goal is not the progressive enhancement of the body in adaptation to its physical context—“a never-ending loop” of transition—but rather the diminishment of the human reliance on the body in the first place. The author refers to this result as the “conscious singularity,” something akin to enlightenment or the unity of all human consciousness. In this way, humanity’s evolutionary destiny dovetails with a religious understanding of superior spirituality, delivered with far greater efficiency and speed than could be achieved through meditation or devotional practice. The author’s thesis is tantalizingly bold, and while it draws on multidisciplinary sources, remarkably original. And while Bhatia’s professional background is in finance technology, his command of the relevant scientific material is laudable. This is a very brief work—well under 100 pages—and so the argument he presents is necessarily condensed, and the pressure of abridgement makes it impossible for him to furnish a fully detailed and convincing case. In particular, the nature of conscious singularity remains vague, more poetically than empirically described. Nonetheless, this is a captivating contribution to an important discussion. 

An intriguing, if all too brief, consideration of human evolution. 

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-978450-24-0

Page Count: 100

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2018

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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