You’ve got to love a self-help book that advises, “It’s not whether I arrive; it’s how I lose my way.” Along with, “My life is worthless, but it’s mine.” And, “The future is full of possibilities that I must shoot in the head.”
In this world of organic antioxidant green tea, Andrew Boyd’s Daily Afflictions is a refreshing blast of lukewarm stale coffee. With a cigarette butt on the bottom. The back cover warns what awaits the reader:
In Daily Afflictions, affirmational bromides become Boyd’s Trojan horse—for a Nietzschean text of dark truths and painfully hard-won wisdom. Attractively designed for desperate readers on the run, Boyd’s bitter pills are an unbeliever’s guide to the realm of Higher Truth. And they might even make you laugh along the way.
Yes, absolutely. This book is one of my churchless favorites. It is cynical, ironic, existential, mystical, and best of all, true. Most slim volumes filled with pithy wisdom that you find around bookstore cash registers make me want to barf. They’re too sickly sweet to keep down.
Daily Afflictions, on the other hand, urges me to puke. Hypocrisy, false hope, self-delusion, get it all out. That’s real. Boyd’s alter ego is Brother Void. His peak mystical experience wasn’t exactly that of being embraced by the light:
The fabric of the air gave way. An immense field of horror spread before him. And from within him a terrible emptiness rose to meet it, hemorrhaging through the room, into the night, to the zeniths of space and time. Now go, go, go. Don’t turn away. Go through it, follow it, sail right on into it. And he dove forward like a reckless cone of life, leaving behind all he had ever known or wished for.
You often hear about believers who have a crisis of faith. But what of the skeptics among us who have a crisis of doubt?...I am One with a God I do not believe in.
(For another perspective on Daily Afflictions, this review in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s “Daily Cardinal” is worth a read.)