Imagine living your whole life in the depths of a deep, dark cave, miles underground ... in a tiny oasis of light in the darkness, the City of Ember,...moreImagine living your whole life in the depths of a deep, dark cave, miles underground ... in a tiny oasis of light in the darkness, the City of Ember, which (although you do not realize it) is the last hope for the survival of humankind. As goes the Song of Darkness, sung once a year by the citizens of Ember during The Singing, "Black as sleep and deep as dreaming/ Darkness like an endless night/ Yet within the streets of Ember/ Bright and bravely shines our light". But the Generator, the source of all power and light for the city, is failing ... and as the power outages and periods of darkness last longer and longer, you wonder if one day the lights will not come back on. And you do not know the way out. As far as you as concerned, Ember is the whole world—as it was also for your parents, your grandparents, their grandparents—and there is nothing else. Brilliant in its simplicity, this is the story of two twelve-year old citizens of Ember who stumble upon a secret—the way out of Ember—and who must first make the fearful journey themselves and then convince a skeptical populace that there is a world beyond Ember. As I read this book to my sons, it reminded me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave: that our experience of reality might be far less than reality itself. Painted with swift, broad strokes, the book could easily be read by a serious-minded ten-year old. There is apparently a sequel, The People of Sparks, which I have not read. There is also a movie which, although quite different from the book in several details, is also enjoyable and moving.(less)
I began reading this book shorty after my own initiation weekend into The Mankind Project, wanting to compare my experience with the author's and to c...more
I began reading this book shorty after my own initiation weekend into The Mankind Project, wanting to compare my experience with the author's and to consolidate my own transformative experience. I found his style extremely intuitive and New-Agey, for lack of a better term (lots of talk about Spirit Guides and too-amazingly coincidental discoveries and dreams and mysticism), and to be honest, this turned me off; not to say that his autobiographical approach wasn't valid, but I found myself writing "WTF?!" more than once in the margins.
That being said, the last 20 pages of summary were the most valuable part of the book for me. The author recognized that his own healing process was happening in layers, from easier to more difficult, "the difficulty probably related to consciousness, the less conscious it was the more difficult it was" (p. 219)—and a large part of being conscious means being aware what I am feeling in any given moment or situation. I was struck by the author's assessment that addiction is actually the polar opposite of consciousness, and that many men use addictions to counterbalance their own numbness and pain. And I will end by quoting the author's penultimate statement about the kind of personal change that occurs during the course of the MKP Weekends: "To become conscious is to change, and change means dealing with fear. Men with deep wounds create behavior patterns to cope with the wounds. To heal the wounds is to let go of the behavior patterns, and the letting go means change, means stepping into the unknown". (pp. 229-230).
I suppose every single man who experiences these weekends could write his own story, and each story would be different. We each have a "Shadow"—the parts of ourselves and our early experiences that we hide, deny or repress—and the voyage towards wholeness involves facing and confronting that of which we are most afraid. (less)
Well, I finally read it—the book I'd been told since high school I needed to read but had never got around to reading. I'm a psychologist, so I found...moreWell, I finally read it—the book I'd been told since high school I needed to read but had never got around to reading. I'm a psychologist, so I found the internal contradictions and introspections and stream-of-consciousness non-sequiters and adolescent reinventions of the world of Holden Caulfield interesting—but I didn't 'enjoy' the book, and I actually came to find it rather tedious. I had always read that Salinger more accurately than most authors had captured the internal world of adolescence—and he may well have done so for 1945, but as i was reading I found the vocabulary distracting and quaint in the same way I found watching "West Side Story" and its efforts to capture the vocabulary of adolescence at the time ("daddy-o!"). Holden calls everyone "Old", as in "Old Sally", including his six-year old sister; he has several verbal tics ("if you like to know") that get really annoying, the equivalent of hearing valley girl talk today, ("so like I say, like, gag me with a spoon!"); and he uses the adjective "crumby" all the time (the equivalent today would be, I believe, "fucked-up"). He was a complex character, I suppose, as are we all—a mixture of compassion and self-centredness, of cowardice ('yellowness') and bluster, of desperate loneliness and self-sufficiency. I just felt sorry for him and kept thinking this kid really needs some parenting and guidance.
Just finished reading this fast-moving and rollicking adventure story out loud to my sons, aged 8 and 10. Read it from my iPad which just seems wrong...moreJust finished reading this fast-moving and rollicking adventure story out loud to my sons, aged 8 and 10. Read it from my iPad which just seems wrong somehow, but it was a free public-domain version, so what the heck. I must say this was a fun book to read out loud, especially when I got to change my voice for the narrators—young Jim Hawkins and Doctor Livesay mainly, although John Silver and the mutineers had lots of salty dialogue; all of the Pirate-speak left my throat a little hoarse on some evenings, but sure and it was worth it, matey, by Thunder! Good and bloodthirsty, just as stories for boys of this age should be, and my sons loved it. I first encountered this story myself when my Grade 6 teacher read it out loud to us many years ago, and I was pleased to note that it hasn't become old and musty since then. The animated feature "Treasure Planet" does an excellent job adapting this story to a different world, in my opinion, even capturing the essence of Long John Silver's ambiguous mentoring relationship with young Jim Hawkins.
Enjoy passing this fine story on to the next generation, shipmates!(less)
Fascinating glimpse into the personality, relationships and impact of Steve Jobs. The author is fair and balanced, presenting the good as well as the...moreFascinating glimpse into the personality, relationships and impact of Steve Jobs. The author is fair and balanced, presenting the good as well as the bad. As well, we learn many behind-the-scenes details about Apple and about how our iMacs, iPods iPhones and iPads came to be. (less)
Fascinating take on the adaptive value of religion and belief in God from an evolutionary psychology perspective. These forces are so interwoven into...moreFascinating take on the adaptive value of religion and belief in God from an evolutionary psychology perspective. These forces are so interwoven into our social and emotional survival that they will not soon disappear, nor be easily replaced, even for the scientific mind. Bering uses examples from history, popular culture and his own life, so his writing is far from dry and academic. He gave me a lot to think about concerning "theory of mind" and its simultaneous role in empathy (the foundation of human morality) and in the attribution of meaning and intent to inherently meaningless events and processes. He could have explored this trail further: "life has no meaning" we could reframe as "life has infinite meaning"—meaning that we have the freedom to construct for ourselves. And finding a pattern and meaning to the events of our lives is not predicated upon the belief in Divine Will alone: our innate human capacity for pattern recognition can be essential in the choice and construction of what will ultimately prove to be a 'meaningful' life, even for a non-believer.
I look forward to reading Bering's next book!(less)
I 'read' Hero as an audiobook, which was a relatively new experience for me. Enjoyed the voice characterizations for the most part (via the book reade...moreI 'read' Hero as an audiobook, which was a relatively new experience for me. Enjoyed the voice characterizations for the most part (via the book reader's changes of tone and timbre), but had a problem with Thom's dad's gruff yet breathy voice, and found the voice of Justice rather annoying. Can't imagine the book as a textual experience. (less)