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.