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The Art of Losing Control: A Guide to Ecstatic Experience

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  20 reviews
How mastering the art of losing control can help us live a better life: a wise, witty and dynamic guide to the philosophy of human ecstasy.

Jules Evans is lying at the bottom of a mountain after a skiing accident. But he's not thinking about his broken femur. He's having an ecstatic revelation. Jules's brush with ecstasy leads him on an investigation: why have we been happy
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by Canongate Books Ltd.
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Jeffrey Howard
"I've decided that Western culture has a problematic relationship with ecstasy, and this narrows and impoverishes our experience of reality," Jules Evans asserts in his new book. A philosopher by trade, he has focused on Stoicism, CBT, and Buddhism. Each philosophy—or way of liberation, in Zen Buddhism's case—are receiving much-deserved attention in contemporary wisdom literature.

However, we're living limited lives due to a hyper-rational worldview, fearful of losing control. "Stoicism insists t
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Jules Evans wrote Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations in 2012 in which he describes how ancient philosophy, primarily Stoicism, saved his life.

In The Art of Losing Control: A Guide to Ecstatic Experience, published in 2018, he has concluded that the Socratic path risks becoming, arid over-cerebral rationalism and, to counter this, we all could do with some Dionysiac ecstasy. Jules asserts that since the Enlightenment, western culture has had a difficult relationship with "ego-lo
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2017
Humans have always had the desire to seek experiences out beyond their comfort zone. Some of these can be a real benefit to people; a shared experience in a crowd, commune with a greater spirit and those most intimate of moments can generate a real buzz. They can though be dangerous as individuals can become addicted and lose touch with their closest friends. The search for ecstasy had been mostly disregarded by western intellectuals as they looked to enlightenment for answers. Philosopher Jules ...more
Jyotirmoy Gupta
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a gift from a friend. The hippie in me wanted to love this book, but couldn't quite like it. The concept of the book is interesting, the author goes through all these ecstatic experiences from drugs to Vipassana and writes about them, the author tricks you into thinking that at the end there will be a best to worst list. Spoiler alert: there isn't.

The problem with this book is, to understand every chapter its enough to read the first 3-4 pages, the rest of the pages in the chapter are
Nicklas Karlsson
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Its a great read. Evans has developed a very comprehensive yet broad look at the ecstatic and what it means. Written in a easy to digest and evenly divided chapters.

However, both the anthropologist and the climber in me feels like there are important parts forgotten when it comes to the social implications of ecstatics as well as the natural and dangerous domains. Even though I still think it is a brilliant work!
A very insightful read on the apparently lost ability of Western culture to embrace transcendental and ecstatic experiences. Makes a great link between the effects of a.o. Evangelical worship songs, art, psychedelic drugs and transhumanism on the way we think, behave and feel. A truly fascinating well-written book that broadened my spectrum on the need of people to lose control and find transcendence. Shines a new light on my own religious experiences.
Caroline Van Staveren
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous revieuw on the search of freedom and happyness, written with a lot of humor.
Bernie Gourley
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a philosopher’s account of sampling from the various wells of ecstatic experience. It’s one of many works these days on what the ancient Greeks called ekstasis. There’s been major interest in investigating the topic in recent years. Historically, religion was the means by which people pursued ecstasy, but – increasingly -- people who don’t care for the dogma and tribalism of religion are starting to crave its more blissful and ego-shedding aspects.

As a work of immersion journalism, the
Daniel Coburn
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating, engaging book by philosopher Jules Evans on ecstatic experiences. Evans defines ecstasy in its original meaning as "standing outside oneself" which occurs in experiences of self-transcendence (or moments of "unselfing") where one feels connected to something larger or greater than oneself. While ecstatic experiences may sometimes be extraordinary, they are also regularly experienced by many in ordinary activities in nature, relationships, conversations, or states of "flow, ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very engaging, most thought provoking book.

In a way it is shocking to see several ways of finding transcendence (religion, art, sex, drugs, rock and roll, violence,... ) discussed all at the same informative level.

It makes me wonder deeply about my own love for church services and sacraments, if they are more than an addiction.

The book is a mix of all kinds of information, and the experience of the author. What he wrote about the subculture of the alpha course is so recognizable to me, that it m
Ilona Acs
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: filosofie
Zeker origineel. Met name in opzet van het boek, aan de hand van “een festival” langs verschillende “tenten” van ‘extase’. Oftewel, extase, we hebben het nodig maar wat is het/hoe vinden we dat en wat brengt het ons? Een groot aantal inzichten waren me niet schokkend of onbekend maar toch wel iets opgestoken en vooral leuk (het meeste dan..) en interessant. Als de schrijver aan het einde nog even kort vermeld wat hij er allemaal niet in heeft gezet, of wat nog niet is onderzocht door hem, wordt ...more
Sara Gray
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Evans does a little of the "stunt exploring" that a lot of nonfiction writers do to sell books these days (certainly can't blame them), but he tempers his adventures perfectly with a cogent summary of the history and philosophy behind why ecstatic experiences are still so threatening to Western society. This book helped me to make more sense of why I tend to pursue such experiences myself, and it may convince even the tradition-bound as to why such experiences are so necessary ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this survey of humanity's ways of trying to experience transcendence throughout the ages. The author's equanimity in the face of his significant experiences in approaches like religion, psychedelics, and meditation (his previous book was apparently on Stoicism/CBT) kept me from feeling like I wasn't being sold on a particular way. The book has a slightly twee framing device of each chapter as a different festival tent, but fortunately it doesn't intrude on the content too much.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book that I chose to read because I have been reading about Stoicism and I wanted to read about the opposite of Stoicism. The author describes various means to achieve ecstasy, and then describes the pitfalls of each. I wasn't persuaded to try anything, but I was enlightened as to why others do what they do.
Salma El-s
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book worth reading more than once. It’s the kind of book that you’ll find yourself gravitating towards through out the different seasons/chapters in your life. This read felt more like a conversation than someone talking “at” you. Highly recommended, enjoy!
Cheryl Lim
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fun and easy read. The experiences and topics shared really resonated with me. I love how the author brings one through each point by inducing a carnival experience. Truly unique!
Sameer Hasham
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
v interesting
funny man
Ralitsa Mitova
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Stunning book!
Sarah Hunt
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book made me realise what I was missing and changed my life.
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Jules is policy director at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, at Queen Mary, University of London. He is also co-organiser of the London Philosophy Club, and is researching and promoting the growth of philosophy clubs around the world.

He's written on philosophy and psychology for the Financial Times, Wired, The Times, Spectator, Prospect, The Observer, Psychologies and others; presented

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