Books I read this month (May2021)

Buddy Does Jersey & Buddy Buys a Dump – Peter Bagge
Life On Another Planet – Will Eisner
The Book You Were Born to Write – Kelly Notaras
The Tao of Physics – Fritjof Capra
Communion – Whitley Strieber
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Jordan Peterson

This month was comparatively light on reading, but thats partly becaue supply couldnt keep up with demand (I have books stuck in mail room limbo).

At the month’s start, I was enthralled by a stack of comics I had, particularly Peter Bagge’s “Hate” compilations: Buddy Does Jersey and Buddy Buys a Dump. This is part of the continuing saga of Buddy Bradley, his gf Lisa, and his family, who were first introduced in “Neat Stuff”. What I love about Bagge (the artist) is how unique and complementary his work is for Bagge, the writer. I dont think anyone has as unique a style. He navigates serious themes with aplomb, like the death of a father, and juxtaposes it with more low-brow storylines, like his little brother turning their mom’s house into a crackhouse while she’s away on vacation. I literally LOL’ed multiple times while reading the second and third volumes.

“Life On Another Planet” is a graphic novel by Will Eisner that depicts the worldwide reaction to an intelligent message from an alien planet. The story has less to do with aliens and more our own human foibles. I was impressed by what an astute social commentator Eisner is. Obviously, the major palyers are the US and USSR, but there’s also Sidiami, a poor African nation run by an opportunistic despot, and Multinational, an aptly named glocal corporation who dresses up their greed in nobles causes and buzzwords. they fund and essentially hijack the Star People, which started as a genuinely grassroots movement, much like corporations today fund social movements for social cachet and to distract from their less noble actions, but also as a way to tame those movements into something they find much more palatable. Written in the late 70s, “Life On Another Planet” is a mordant social critique that’s startingly applicable totoday’s world (switch China for the USSR, and itd be the same).

Next, I read “The Tao of Physics”, which is an underground classic. It’s thesis posits the discoveries of quantum mechanics and general relativty recapitulate ideas found in the Eastern mystical traditions, like Buddhism, Hinduism, taoism.

This is accesible to the layman, and ofers a good primer to some of the main teories of modern physics and the central tenets of Eastern philosophy.

“Communion” is a classic of the UFO abduction genre, written all the way back in the 80s. I think, for the most part, Strieber is being candid and sincere about his experiences. (Personally, I used this as a guide book and reference to compare my own experiences.) A good read, one of the first to speculate on the nature of gray aliens (e.g. they’re robotic) andwhat might their goals be.

Kelly Notaras’ “The Book You Were Born to Write”is a handy manual about publishing your own book from an industry insider. She aims it at would-be authors of “transformational nonfiction”, a genre of memoirs and nonfiction meant to change the reader’s life with an explicit message. While stories of boner pills and prison fights are hardly inspirational, I still found this bok plenty helpful, with information about getting an agent, writing a book proposal, disciplining yourself to write the bok, and much, much more. Can be read and read in small chunks (which made it perfect as my “taking a shit” book for two weeks).

Finally, I reread Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life,” which is the intellectual’s insirational self-help. His was the firstbook that consciously gotme thinking, ” How do I become a better person?” and “how do I leave the world a better place?” Some of the rules are straightforward (Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today). Others are tongue-in-cheek, accompanied by heartfelt and brilliant essays (e.g. Stop to pet a cat). Peterson quotes the Bible and other religous texts, as well as citing scientific studies, to bolster his arguments; he vividly brings the Bible to life. You dont have to be a Christian to understand why these are the stories most esteemed and cherished by humanity thru the ages –because its moral truth is the most incisive and penetrating (different from narrative truth, a distinction Peterson makes at length in thebook). If there’s oneoverarching theme, it’s that life may not be fair, but you must take responsibility for your own life or you’ll fall prey to revolutionary cultural tides and social anomie and impoverishment, both materially and spiritually. Meaning, ultimately, is found in responsibility and performing one’s duties, both those expected of you and those you expect from yourself.

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