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Little-Known Books that Tweak the Mind * 1
    #633491 - 05/16/02 04:59 PM (21 years, 4 months ago)

Here are some uniquely thought-provoking books that may have escaped your attention. The list is in no particular order, and the presence of a book on the list does not imply that I endorse everything the author says. If you harbor some sort of deep, irrational hatred towards one or more of the books here, please don't waste your time and mine with flames and rants: I'm just doing this to bring some books that I found intriguing to the attention of others. If, on the other hand, you have suggestions of your own, please feel free to post them here.

Zen and the Psychology of Transformation: The Supreme Doctrine
by Hubert Benoit
--Very dense and abstract, but the most thorough and deeply-thought-through explication of just what Zen training is meant to achieve

The Elementary Particles
by Michel Houellebecq
--A scathing satire of the contemporary world, but infused with a strange tenderness and humanism. You'll probably disagree with a lot he has to say, but he's one of the only novelists in the world who isn't afraid the tackle the biggest issues out there. He has the courage to be offensive.

The Plague of Fantasies
by Slavoj Zizek
--The only person in the world who can make Lacanian psychoanalytic theory seem interesting and even fun. Lots of bullshit, but even then very, very provocative bullshit. This book defines "mind-fuck." Dense and difficult, not for the faint of heart.

Gargantua and Pantagruel
by Francois Rabelais (the BURTON RAFFEL translation)
--Most translators of this behemoth classic of world literature have been timid, puritanical prigs. Burton Raffel is the first to render it in fresh and obscene English, and the results are wonderful. I tried reading this once in an older translation and found it soporific. This version is very funny and indeed, psychadelic! This despite the fact that it's over 460 years old!

by JT Leroy
--A very sweet yet ultimately very disturbing novel about young men (boys, in fact) who dress like women and prostitute themselves to long-haul truck drivers in the backwoods of West Virginia. The author was 20 when he wrote this, and it was based in large part on his own life experiences. The writing is absolutely first-rate and it's hard to believe that the author made it through such experiences intact and can write like an angel to boot. Gus van Sant is turning it into a film.

The Key
by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
--Novel told in the form of two diaries written by a husband and wife, this book explores desire, what it means to watch and be watched, how we communicate, how lies becomes truths and vice versa, and a bunch of other cool stuff. Also an excellent mind-fuck if you carefully think through the implications. Plus it's short and reads quickly.

The Mystery of the Aleph
by Amir D Aczel
--This is a book about Infinity and about how the mathematicians who have thought most deeply about it have a strange tendency to go mad. Not as good as Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach (that's not on my list because it's a very famous book) but worthwhile because it ties infinity in with the texts of the Kabbalah and is a quick and straightforward read.

That's enough for now. Hope you find something you like.

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Re: Little-Known Books that Tweak the Mind [Re: EchoVortex] * 1
    #658447 - 06/02/02 04:13 AM (21 years, 3 months ago)

Develop your psychic skills by Enid Hoffman is a good read.

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Runs withscissors

Registered: 08/10/99
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Re: Little-Known Books that Tweak the Mind [Re: ] * 1
    #659362 - 06/02/02 04:33 PM (21 years, 3 months ago)

Einstein's Dreams by Alan P Lightman

Awesome book, quick read - I read it in a couple hours. Totally blew my mind. Deals with alternate realities and what they would be like if the concept of time were completely different than what it is to us. It really has little to do with Einstein actully.

Th following has been stolen from amazon.com:


The book takes flight when Einstein takes to his bed and we share his dreams, 30 little fables about places where time behaves quite differently. In one world, time is circular; in another a man is occasionally plucked from the present and deposited in the past: "He is agonized. For if he makes the slightest alteration in anything, he may destroy the future ... he is forced to witness events without being part of them ... an inert gas, a ghost ... an exile of time." The dreams in which time flows backward are far more sophisticated than the time-tripping scenes in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, though science-fiction fans may yearn for a sustained yarn, which Lightman declines to provide. His purpose is simply to study the different kinds of time in Einstein's mind, each with its own lucid consequences. In their tone and quiet logic, Lightman's fables come off like Bach variations played on an exquisite harpsichord. People live for one day or eternity, and they respond intelligibly to each unique set of circumstances. Raindrops hang in the air in a place of frozen time; in another place everyone knows one year in advance exactly when the world will end, and acts accordingly.

"Consider a world in which cause and effect are erratic," writes Lightman. "Scientists turn reckless and mutter like gamblers who cannot stop betting.... In this world, artists are joyous." In another dream, time slows with altitude, causing rich folks to build stilt homes on mountaintops, seeking eternal youth and scorning the swiftly aging poor folk below. Forgetting eventually how they got there and why they subsist on "all but the most gossamer food," the higher-ups at length "become thin like the air, bony, old before their time."

There is no plot in this small volume--it's more like a poetry collection than a novel. Like Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, it's a mind-stretching meditation by a scientist who's been to the far edge of physics and is back with wilder tales than Marco Polo's. And unlike many admirers of Hawking, readers of Einstein's Dreams have a high probability of actually finishing it.


Is the glass half-full or half-empty? I say it is both.

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mneumatic device

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Registered: 11/27/01
Posts: 565
Re: Little-Known Books that Tweak the Mind [Re: EchoVortex] * 1
    #659418 - 06/02/02 05:17 PM (21 years, 3 months ago)

The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot
I very highly recommend this book.
Excerpt from back cover:
"Today nearly everyone is familiar with holograms, three-dimensional images projected into space with the aid of a laser. Now, two of the world's most eminent thinkers -- University of London physicist David Bohm, a former protege of Einstein's and one of the world's most respected quantum physicists, and Stanford neurophysiologist Karl Primbram, one of the architects of our modern understanding of the brain -- believe that the universe itself may be a giant hologram, quite literally a kind of image or construct created, at least in part, by the human mind. This remarkable new way of looking at the universe explains not only many of the unsolved puzzles of physics, but also such mysterious occurences as telepathy, out-of-body and near-death experiences, 'lucid' dreams, and even religious and mystical experiences such as feelings of cosmic unity and miraculous healings."

The Whole Shebang by Timothy Ferris
A good summary of today's understanding of physics and the universe for the average person.

Faster Than Light: Superluminal Loopholes In Physics by Nick Herbert, Ph.D.

I apologise if any of these are more well known than I think, but I'm sure someone will enjoy reading them for the first time.


"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
- Marcel Proust

I wish you all ceaselessly flowing moments of happiness.

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