A fun and easy read. I really liked the idea of Pippi as a free-spirited, wild, strong, fun-loving, independent girl who exists on her own terms. No o...moreA fun and easy read. I really liked the idea of Pippi as a free-spirited, wild, strong, fun-loving, independent girl who exists on her own terms. No one can control her or tell her what to do. Seriously, where else have you seen a protagonist like this? I can't think of a single one.
Also, Pippi's brand of nonsense was quite a bit more accessible to my five-year-old daughter than Alice in Wonderland.
There's no moral to this story. It's just silly fun. However, that's also the weakness of the book. There's no development, no arc to the book as a whole. The chapters are like independent stories with little connection. Which is fine for the kids, perhaps, but a bit lacking for the adult reader. (less)
Don't expect an orderly scientific approach. Maslow barely defines his terms. Try as I might, I could not find a cohe...moreBrilliant, but also frustrating.
Don't expect an orderly scientific approach. Maslow barely defines his terms. Try as I might, I could not find a coherent, succinct definition of the "peak-experience" here, though one can infer much from the text. Maslow also throws around terms like B-cognition and B-values, which were opaque to me, perhaps because I'm not schooled in the discipline of psychology.
There are some suspect ideas about gender, especially in the final appendix. In fact, there are probably a bunch of suspect ideas here, but I frankly glossed over them, carried away by the excitement of Maslow's arguments.
This doesn't read like a research study. It reads like a manifesto. It's a call to arms. Maslow thinks we need a reunification of science and religion. Fifty years later, these words still ring true.
However, what really puts this book over the top for me, the reason I give it top marks, is that I had a soul-shattering peak-experience myself, once upon a time. I was 22 then; I read this book at age 46; I have never read anything that delineated that experience so clearly.
Also, it's short. The text is only 58 pages. The appendices are of roughly equal length and definitely worth a look.
So: a flawed gem, a seminal book, a must-read for anyone interested in the topic.
POSTSCRIPT: I'd like to dispel a couple or three misconceptions about peak-experiences. I've seen numerous allusions to the peak-experiences of great spiritual leaders. Maslow addresses these but also makes the point that virtually everybody has peak-experiences. Some reviews of this book criticize Maslow's division of humanity into peakers and non-peakers; indeed Maslow uses these terms but makes clear that his thoughts on the subject evolved considerably, to the point that he "began to use the word 'non-peaker' to describe, not the person who is unable to have peak-experiences, but rather the person who is afraid of them, who suppresses them, who denies them, who turns away from them, or who 'forgets' them." Finally, it should be noted that peak-experiences are not (necessarily) triggered by drugs. Maslow expresses some enthusiasm for LSD, but that's not what this book is about.(less)
Totally awesome in that bleak and depressing way. Reads like a piece of historical fiction that just happens to be set in the future. Fossil fuels are...moreTotally awesome in that bleak and depressing way. Reads like a piece of historical fiction that just happens to be set in the future. Fossil fuels are vanishingly expensive, sea levels continue to rise, and agribusiness companies like Monsanto have ruined the world but still manage to rule it. Very noir with espionage flavors. Vividly imagined with a strong sense of place, populated by realistic and intriguing characters, a page-turning plot, and plenty to think about. Recommended to anyone who's concerned with where our global society is headed, or just wants a diverting read.
Adding: The most intriguing aspect of this story, for me, is the portrayal of ecofascism. In Bacigalupi's treatment, it's more than just a silly label used to smear environmentalists. The "whiteshirts" are shown in a realistic and highly nuanced light. We can understand how such a fascism might emerge, how it might be justified in the hearts and minds of the people, and how it might be corrupted. We can see how ecofascism might be both evil and necessary. (less)
This is a devastating book. Devastating, that is, to the Gaia hypothesis. It's also quite fascinating. T...moreGaia is dead, and Toby Tyrrell has killed her.
This is a devastating book. Devastating, that is, to the Gaia hypothesis. It's also quite fascinating. This is recommended reading for anyone who lives on Earth and has a brain.
The author aims to investigate the hypothesis, formulated by James Lovelock in the 1970s, "that life has played a critical role in shaping the planetary environment and climate over ~3 billion years, in order to keep it habitable or even optimal for life down through the geological ages." (From Q&A with Toby Tyrrell)
Tyrrell offers evidence and argument in roughly equal measure. The empirical evidence is drawn from a diverse array of sources, most notably evolutionary biology and Earth system science. The philosophical arguments include an extended meditation on the anthropic principle and its implications.
For non-scientists, at least, it's perhaps too easy to dismiss the empirical data. The critical reader, if not familiar with the current research literature, can't help but wonder if the author is selectively presenting only evidence that supports his agenda. The philosophical arguments can be understood by anyone, regardless of specialization, and are much harder to discount.
On both fronts, in chapter after chapter, Tyrrell finds the case for Gaia doesn't hold up. He gives credit to Lovelock for major insights that have proven correct, and for generally provoking scientists and the general public to think about life on Earth in a new way. But at the end of the book, Gaia has been thoroughly dismantled.
So where does that leave us? Tyrrell winds up with an excellent discussion on just why all this stuff matters. He points out that any notion of Gaia as a self-sustaining, self-regulating system may lead to complacency. We may be tempted to believe that environmental problems will tend to correct themselves. In other words, Gaia may lead us to "undue optimism." It's important for humanity to realize that we cannot rely on built-in safeguards to save our proverbial bacon. The global ecosystems which sustain us are more precarious than a strong Gaian view might lead us to believe. If we are to protect our home from the effects of our own depredations, we must dispense with the erroneous notion of a self-healing Earth.
In other words, in order to save Gaia, it is necessary to destroy her.