Becky's Reviews > Maya

Maya by Jostein Gaarder
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Dec 06, 2009

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bookshelves: 2009, reviewed
Read in December, 2009

This is really the first "philosophy" book I've read, and I'm not sure what to make of it, honestly. The initial part of this book, in which the background hints that there is a bit of a mystery are given, to me had a little bit of a gothic mystery feel. Everything seems normal on top, but underneath, there's something just not quite right. It had me intrigued, and was enough of an intrigue to allow me to read through this book in the better part of a day and a half, despite some very deep intellectual and spiritual content.

I really did enjoy that content, which surprised me as I am not drawn to philosophy in general, so maybe my choice of the word "despite" above is wrong. But that's how it feels. I read quickly for the mystery, but not so quickly that I couldn't grasp and ponder the deeper stuff that the mystery was a part of.

I recognized a lot of my own thought processes and neuroses in this book, much to my surprise. Concepts like whether we're really here at all, or if we're just part of a dream that we're not enlightened enough to wake from in order to recognize it for what it is... Concepts like death, and not so much what becomes of the deceased after death, but what happens to the rest of existence after the death of the deceased. I myself find it hard to contemplate that the world, existence as I know it, will continue on in the same way as it always has when I'm gone. Logically, this makes sense, but even as a little girl, I've wondered how things would change if I no longer existed as part of the world. Not if I had never existed, but if I was no longer there to see it. Would my mother still be my mother as I know her? Would my friends still be my friends as I've known them? Or would something shift and be different, but I wouldn't know because I'm not there to see?

In a way, one would think that these thoughts should make me believe in a life after death, so that I can still look on the world and keep up with my friends and loved ones... but I see this as two separate things. If I was a religious person, perhaps I wouldn't have this fear, because I'd have faith in something greater than myself. But I'm not religious, and this fear is not currently enough for me to be able to change this. It's not a great enough fear that I need something to soothe it, if that something requires believing in what to me is improbable, if not impossible.

I'm kind of rambling on, now, but I just wanted to talk about some of the things that this book made me think as I was reading it. Another thing that kind of struck me about this book is that it seemed to be a kind of meeting of the minds between "Evolutionary spirituality" and "Religious spirituality". It struck me how we're products of millions and millions of years of selective evolution, but that there could be a "creator" out there who got the ball rolling and who is subtly making sure that things take a certain path to a wanted result. Is that result us? Or are we only a step in the path to an end result we can't even fathom yet?

Anyway... So I mentioned before that this book started out with a feeling of a gothic mystery, but it quickly changed as the focus became more of the philosophical aspects, and then about 3/4 of the way through, it seemed to morph again into a kind of philosophical magical realism style. Things then started to take a strange and unreal turn, and this is where I think I got a little lost. I don't understand what happened at the end of the book, or how things came together. I'm happy with it, but I don't understand how it came about.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure if philosophy is really my thing. :)
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