I had the pleasure a couple of years ago of hearing Dave Gray talk about and explore some ideas he had for a new book, throwing them out to the audienI had the pleasure a couple of years ago of hearing Dave Gray talk about and explore some ideas he had for a new book, throwing them out to the audience and having a conversation around them. Earlier this year I had the privilege of reading some early versions of pages that had evolved from those explorations and which now form the heart of Dave’s new book, Liminal Thinking. I was excited to get the final version of the book and looking forward to sitting down and breezing through it, to soak it all in like a blast from a fire hose. And, at about 150 pages, it would be easy enough to do. To just read through it in one sitting, in probably just a couple of hours. Which is what I was expecting to do. Until…
Until I read Chapter 1, titled “Beliefs are models”. And then I wasn’t in a hurry any longer. I wasn’t interested in getting to the end, I wanted to read that chapter again. Even though he started with the story of the blind men and the elephant, a story I’ve heard many times before. A story I’ve heard before, but not really “seen” before.
Not surprisingly, this process repeated itself as I made my way through the book. Though I only made it from front to back once over the weekend, I figure I read the entire book at least 3 times in that period. Reading a chapter, re-reading it, maybe going back a chapter or two to make a connection. And I realized that, contrary to my original thought of just blasting through the book, I didn’t really want to get to the end. I didn’t want the experience of the book to be over.
And speaking of the experience of the book, I need to mention here just how beautifully designed the book is. Beyond the insight and knowledge in the words and drawings Dave gives us, the team at The Heads of State have created a work of art in this book. The most obvious aspect is the cover, but as you read through the book the design elements guide you along, quite unobtrusively, to help you get the most from those words and drawings. Simple touches like the spare use of color, consistent layout of the chapters so that you know when one is starting and when it is ending, and materials that feel luxurious in the hand. Not to mention the fountain pen friendly paper. Do yourself a favor, and get the hard copy book. (Though I will probably also pick up a Kindle version so that I can always have the book on hand.)
At one point in the book Dave acknowledges that some people naturally or intuitively think liminally, and I count myself among those just as you may. I’ve always thought “in systems”, trying to understand the why behind rules, traditions, and behavior. But, as I learned from Dave in this book, I have only been scratching the surface, getting down to maybe the level of a person’s beliefs, maybe their theories about life and the world. Beliefs, as Dave explains, go much deeper than that.
More importantly, I realized that I’ve never really turned that systems view on myself, on my own thinking, to understand how it is I’ve come to be the way I am. I’ve always thought I understood, but now I’m not so sure. I am looking forward to finding out....more
I found this to be a page turner, one I had a hard time putting down when I needed to. Includes a good mix of philosophy, psychology, cognitive neurosI found this to be a page turner, one I had a hard time putting down when I needed to. Includes a good mix of philosophy, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and quantum physics along with a story that's not quite a crime novel but very much a thriller. The conversations in the story get a bit didactic, but I've come to expect that in books where the characters are intellectuals explaining things to each other. And it doesn't usually bother me, because it gets me thinking. Luckily, Sawyer includes some "further reading" recommendations.
From the structure of the book, with chapters alternating points of view from one version of the protagonist to another, to the ultimate reason that eFrom the structure of the book, with chapters alternating points of view from one version of the protagonist to another, to the ultimate reason that evil (?) is unleashed upon the world, Superposition keeps you thinking and guessing what is coming next. Like any story, there comes a point where you are pretty sure you know what is going to ultimately happen; David Walton does a very good job of putting this point as near to the end of the book as possible.
A bit of violence, a lot of discussion about quantum entanglement and the nature of consciousness and free will. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Supersymmetry. ...more
Although David Silverman does spend some time explaining why religion is wrong and that atheists should help their believing friends escape the Lie ofAlthough David Silverman does spend some time explaining why religion is wrong and that atheists should help their believing friends escape the Lie of God, this book is really a call to action to achieve equality for the non-believer in a societal system created and run by believers. Or, perhaps, liars who call themselves believers so that they can maintain their hold on power. It's not about infringing on their "religious freedoms", Silverman argues, but removing the privilege with which they have lived for so long.
The narrative also serves as an excellent case study in firebrand activism and how it is an essential component of any effort to implement large scale change. ...more