Proving either that ranting results in a rapid response from the cosmos, or, more likely, that magical thinking is alive and well in my twisted mind, after yesterday’s posting I was pleased to find an email from the Radical Academy waiting for me when I turned on my computer this morning. My book had been reviewed!
My fingers were trembling slightly as I clicked on the link to Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty’s review. For while I have been eager to have “Return to the One” reviewed, naturally I was envisioning positivity at the end of the Review Rainbow, not negativity. Thankfully, a quick read through Dr. Dolhenty’s thoughtful analysis of my book about Plotinus allayed my anxieties.
He ends with these words: I highly recommend "Return to the One" to all those interested in the philosophy of Plotinus, the general history of Western philosophy, religious philosophy, or mystical philosophy. The subject is interesting and important and Brian Hines' prose is crisp, concise, and easily understood.
Well, I may have to revise my potential (and so far utterly unrealized) sales projections. As noted in the posting below, I’ve been considering that this book would appeal to enthusiasts of mysticism and Greek Philosophy. But, hey, if we open the door to “the general history of Western philosophy” and “religious philosophy,” a lot more readers could enter in.
The Radical Academy is an interesting website. On the home page it says, We discuss traditional philosophical, moral, and religious questions; contemporary political, social, and cultural problems and policies; current scientific and technological issues and speculations; challenges to the "conventional" wisdom, "popular" ideologies, and "accepted" paradigms of our culture; and the application of commonsense realistic principles to all human affairs.
Dr. Dolhenty lives in Port Orford, so the Radical Academy has Oregon roots. He is President and Webmaster of the Academy and its parent organization, the Center for Applied Philosophy.
A lot of people would consider a Center for Applied Philosophy about as useless an enterprise as you could think of, especially since it has a significant emphasis on classic Western philosophers. And a lot of people would be mistaken.
I’ve been re-reading what Thoreau has to say on this subject in his “Reading” chapter in Walden. Maybe one day the New Age Retailer reviewer who declined to write a review of my book because it was “not relevant to today’s issues” will read Walden’s words and change his or her mind:
The oldest Egyptian or Hindoo philosopher raised a corner of the veil from the statue of the divinity; and still the trembling robe remains raised, and I gaze upon as fresh a glory as he did, because it was I in him that was then so bold, and it is he in me that now reviews the vision. No dust has settled on that robe; no time has elapsed since that divinity was revealed. That time which we really improve, or which is improvable, is neither past, present, nor future.
…I aspire to be acquainted with wiser men than this our Concord soil has produced, whose names are hardly known here. Or shall I hear the name of Plato and never read his book? As if Plato were my townsman and I never saw him, --my next neighbor and I never heard him speak or attended to the wisdom of his words. But how actually is it? His Dialogues, which contain what was immortal in him, lie on the next shelf, and yet I never read them. We are under-bred and low-lived and illiterate.
…How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhat uttered. These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life.
Since “Return to the One” was published I’ve been told by several people, “I’ve started your book, but I haven’t been able to get past the opening chapters. It’s heavy.” Well, yes, it is. And also exceedingly light if you allow yourself to soar with Plotinus’s spiritual vision. At the risk of sounding like George W. Bush, I’ll say that “Reading a classic philosopher is hard work. You have to be steadfast.”
Thoreau: To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.
I found you and this site via Dr. Dolhenty's site and more specifically his very positive review of your book. Congrats, he does not easily give out high praise and he was quite positive about your Plotinus book.
Speaking of Plotinus and "The One", and indirectly also speaking of Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus' teacher, and those like Heraclitus who came before them and those like Leibniz and Whitehead who came after them, you might want to visit my site, http://theometry.org.
There you will see a very serious, though often raunchy view of "God and Nature's Operating System" which I believe matches up quite nicely with what that noble thread of prerennial philosophers has always tried, and often failed, to show to those not open to the idea of an over-riding and underlying mroal principle inherent in the concept of Change. My kind of Theometric "GNOS IS..." answers are about a "softest of software" as well as "hardest of mysteries" kind of "living" meme that may never be completely grasped, but a "Wholy One" that nonetheless can be more and more perceived and conceived of, from time to time, by those whom I think you have written your book for.
I'd love to know if you agree, and also know if you might be interested in contributing a chapter to a compendium I am writing called, "Nature's Fractal God/God's Fractal Nature: Why and How God and Nature's Operating System IS?"?
Posted by: Yale Landsberg | November 14, 2004 at 06:18 AM
I've read Plotinus a few times, and I agree with your comments about him needing to be studied carefully. Unfortunately as with many works of great classical literature and philosophy, the translation matters a lot. McKenna for example renders Plotinus more obscure than he needs to be, while A.H. Armstrong does a very good job of translating him properly.
Plotinus is also sadly one of the types of philosopher who don't seem to exist these days; ones who can combine religious tolerance, mystical depth and rational philosophical insight into the world and integrate it into beautifully lived virtue in their active and contemplative lives. There are exceptions through history and great philosopher-contemplatives exist in all the world's main religions, including Buddha, Nagarjuna and Dzochen (Buddhism), Sankara and Sri Auribindo (Hinduism), Rumi, Ibn-Arabi and Shawhardi (Islam), Pseudo-Dionysius, Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross (Christianity), Chuang Tzu (Taoism) and Plotinus, Plato, Proclus and Aristotle (Greek Philosophy) and Philo Judeaus and Isaac Luria (Judaism). All of these thinkers are worth studying (along with many more) in the world's beautiful rivers of philosophical reflection, which try to find the Truth, in whatever form it comes in.
Posted by: Greg | February 09, 2007 at 05:18 AM