A debut philosophical book examines life in modern times.
Living explains at the outset of this short yet extensive work that readers have opened something with “nontraditional writing and a peculiar name.” While the latter part of the statement is immediately evident, the former becomes obvious the instant readers bear down on the content. This series opener is organized into “Paths,” marked “Philosophical,” “Psychological,” “Political,” and “Lyrical”; each features musings, dialogues, and allusions to everything from World War II and Vatican City to human cloning. While the views of others are incorporated, the volume focuses on the author’s meandering thought process. On the topic of gay marriage (in the “Psychological Path”), Living asserts: “I hope it would be a share of thoughts why today’s idea about male marriage works like a magnet to moot concepts.” On the subject of the death of one’s parents (part of the “Philosophical Path”), there is the revelation that “even if you are a hot believer in God, today like a first time in life you show zealous protest by differing this death.” Understanding what the author means by such comments can prove a challenge. Although context clues provide some clarity, the writing style creates a host of difficulties. For example, the line “It’s like people’s millennium tradition: when the important novelty gets closer, no one afraid” is a puzzle. What is the “people’s millennium tradition”? What is an “important novelty” and is it true that no one is afraid when it gets closer? This is not to say that the work lacks potency. Crime and punishment are deftly explored with the idea that “if somebody likes to see punitive actions, there may be many reasons, but he would never agree that he does it for emotional balance.” A rendition of one man’s experience working in a cleanup operation following the 9/11 attacks in New York City is quite touching, particularly with the image of an area “blanket-covered by the black glass up to the fifty-fourth floor facing Towers Place.” The great hurdle for readers will be to separate such astuteness from more confounding commentary. Doing so provides plenty of remarkable takeaways, though this sifting is far from an easy task.
A dense philosophical work that delivers striking moments and some hazy prose.