A spirited pursuit of the spiritual, impolite but incisive.

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BUTTERFLY ON THE WRIST

LIFE IS OUT TO HEAL US

This far-ranging spiritual memoir reveals the author’s dramatic search for spiritual enlightenment in places like Auschwitz and Hoboken, N.J., on a route that diverges from the conventional spiritual path.

Androsiglio has a PhD in clinical psychology, but in this slangy monologue he’s concerned less with an intellectual immersion in psychology than with his apparently unquenchable thirst for spiritual knowledge. Two opposing energies follow Androsiglio throughout his spiritual journey: self-hatred (manifested in alcoholism and joyless promiscuity) and an instructive friendship with the unconventional Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast. The monk helps Androsiglio overcome bouts of masochistic behavior by offering a gentle form of Christian mysticism that emphasizes self-forgiveness and an appreciation for life and the lessons it teaches us. Where needed, Androsiglio employs his psychoanalytic skills—mainly to analyze the effects of the sexual and verbal abuse inflicted upon him as a child by his emotionally volatile father. But most of Androsiglio’s memoir records a relentless quest for the spiritual meaning of his life. While absorbing David’s teaching, Androsiglio looks for additional guidance from all over the globe—a Peruvian shaman, a Hindu teacher of erotically charged yoga and the Dalai Lama. “My personality thrived on the exotic,” Androsiglio writes. After indulging in a variety of Latin American and Asian spiritual systems, he even visits the gas chambers of Auschwitz and his former family home in Hoboken, N.J., to confront the extremes of suffering—people versus personal. The eponymous butterfly symbolically represents Androsiglio’s delicate soul, and everyone’s. Whether a reader finds pleasure or pain in this account will depend on valuing it as a curious soul’s flitting with mystical exoticism, or as the heartfelt odyssey of a passionate spiritualist soaring toward nirvana. Plenty of political opinions and snap character judgments of family, friends and gurus all serve to distract from Androsiglio’s answer.

A spirited pursuit of the spiritual, impolite but incisive.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463744656

Page Count: 348

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2012

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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