Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Perennial Philosophy: abstraction 1.

Been feeling like I'm in an "inbetween" stage, listless and depressed, after I finished my Buffy project...so, I think I may have thought of my next writing project. I'm going to reread everything on my bookshelf (I have two shelves, but I'll be reading the shelf that does NOT contain textbooks and reference materials--so the fiction and the more narrative forms of nonfiction) and a few things that I own as ebooks too. I think how I'll do it is I'll blog reflections about what I read whenever I feel like it, so that may be daily and that may just be a review at the end of the reread. Before my first abstraction, here is the list of books I plan to include in this project, in the order they appear on my shelf (probably not at ALL the order I'll read them, however):

1. Pride and Prejudice // Jane Austen
2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies // Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
3. Sense and Sensibility // Jane Austen
4. Drawing Blood // Poppy Z Brite
5. Jane Eyre // Charlotte Bronte
6. Wuthering Heights // Emily Bronte
7. Ready Player One // Ernest Cline
8. High Fidelity // Nick Hornby
9. Party Monster (I still think of it as "Disco Bloodbath") // James St. James
10. Freak Show // James St. James
11. Carrie // Stephen King
12. short story collection // Edgar Allan Poe
13. Queen of the Damned // Anne Rice
14. Frankenstein // Mary Shelley
15. Dracula // Bram Stoker
16. The Picture of Dorian Gray // Oscar Wilde
17. IV // Chuck Klosterman
18. Courtney Love: The Real Story // Poppy Z Brite
19. Grrrls: Viva Rock Divas // various
20. Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life // Steve Almond
21. This is Your Brain On Music // Daniel J. Levitin
22. Love is a Mixtape // Rob Sheffield
23. Talking to Girls about Duran Duran // Rob Sheffield
24. Songbook // Nick Hornby
25. Cassette from my Ex // various
26. Candyfreak // Steve Almond
27. Introduction to Quantum Theory
28. The Great Funk // Thomas Hine
29. Flow: A Cultural History of Menstruation // Elissa Stein
30. Flow // Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
31. The Female Brain // Louann Brizendine
32. Haunted Joplin // Lisa Livingston-Martin
33. Goth // Paul Hodkinson
34. Buffy and Philosophy
35. Seven Seasons of Buffy // various
36. What Would Buffy Do? // Jana Riess
37. Why Buffy Matters // Rhonda Wilcox
38. Sex and the Slayer // Lorna Jowett
39. Journal to the Self // Kathleen Adams
40. The Perennial Philosophy // Aldous Huxley
41. Tao Te Ching // Lao Tsu
42. Hardcore Zen // Brad Warner

on my Nook:
43. How Not to Write, by Someone Who Doesn't // Delilah Des Anges
44. The Nerdist Way // Chris Hardwick
45. Pass the Parcel // Delilah Des Anges
46. Invisible Monsters // Chuck Palahniuk

on my iPad:
47. The Perks of Being a Wallflower // Stephen Chbosky
48. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs // Chuck Klosterman
49. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance // Robert Pirsig
50. Record Collecting for Girls // Courtney Smith

The purpose in doing this is threefold, as most things are: so that I may rid myself of books that maybe don't deserve a spot on my shelf (several of these books exist on my Nook and/or iPad anyway, so do I neeeed two physical copies of "Frankenstein"?), to reevaluate why I love these 50 books enough to own them, and to rediscover my love of each of these books. I never took serious literature classes in college, so I will teach myself to understand these great books.

***First up is "The Perennial Philosophy" by Aldous Huxley. My history with this book is kind of sordid and tawdry. I first encountered this book in the collection of a boyfriend in the year 2005. I was most likely high on a substance I in no way endorse ever, but it made me feel invincible and contemplative. Everything makes me feel contemplative, but the thing about this book that sticks with me is the phrase "that art thou".

Let me back up a sec. Basically this book is like that album that you start to listen to and never make it past the first song, ever, because you love it so much and don't see any point in letting yourself be let down by future tracks on the album. The Perennial Philosophy is the idea that all major world religions basically have the same tenants and ideas, they're just told differently based on culture, time, audience, etc. I've believed this to be true since my extensive studies in high school looking for my perfect religion (never found it, obvs), though I didn't realize until the sober me TODAY read the first chapter of this book that this is what this is called.

So each chapter deals with a different concept in religion that most religions share, and then sights a bunch of text and is all fancy and shit.

The first chapter is about various versions of the concept "that art thou" which I really identify with. I'm not a religious person, but I'm wayyy existential and philosophical. I love it. "That art thou" basically means you are me and we are me and I am the walrus, or whatever. That we are all essentially made of the same stuff and from the same stuff. We're all versions of "god" as it's usually interpreted, but I see this as everyone being made of carbon and starstuff with almost the same DNA, etc. So "that art thou" is a flowery way of saying "we are all starstuff". You are that tree and that car and that pile of dog poo on the sidewalk. We're all breathing Einstein air particles and living together, part of a whole, a whole that's inconceeeeeeeeeivable to us all.

I kind of feel like I may have to be on acid to understand this book, but I like the ideas within, once I finally sort through all the wordiness to get to these ideas. This book makes my head hurt, but that just means it's working, right? I'm also highly distracted by the highlighting and annotations written in the book by the owner before me (I bought it used on Amazon), but like most annotated books, this dies off after the first couple of chapters, so I just have to make it that far...

I've wanted a "that art thou" tattoo for a long time, and it's been done....a LOT, but I am reinvigorated every time I pick up this book and I think my collarbone might be the eventual place for this tattoo. I really like the concept a lot. This is the idea that draws me to Buddhism. The idea that we are all essentially variations of the same thing makes me feel really connected to everyone. It's a very positive message.

Whoa, I'm listening to an Austra album (for the first time, btw) and the lyrics were just NOW "We are all stardust, we are billion year old carbon". See? That's totally a sign, man! To get the tattoo and keep reading this heady book...