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Time tested, mind altering books


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#21 TVCasualty

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 10:43 AM

In no particular order, and only a tiny sampling...

 

Rumi, as translated by Coleman Barks. There are a bunch of books to pick from. Barks makes poetic translations more so than literal, so some Rumi scholars don't like his versions but while the literal translations are closer to Rumi's actual words, Barks' translations seem to get closer to what Rumi was trying to articulate.

 

In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations
 by Jerry Mander (yes, that's his real name)

 

Quantum Psychology by Robert Anton Wilson (everyone should have some Basic Training in guerrilla ontology IMO!) Link is to PDF download of actual book.

 

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design by Richard Dawkins. We might believe we know what the Theory of Evolution is all about, but it turns out most of us are wrong and that goes for whether we fully support it or think it's an evil conspiracy to lead people away from God (or something in between). I include it here because it's quite an eye-opening read, but more importantly if we like to contemplate or discuss Evolution in any context or debate it from any angle then it's helpful to understand exactly what it is that we're talking about.

 

This article that was published recently: We Are All Confident Idiots by David Dunning (from Dunning-Kruger Effect fame). We really need to learn to say "I don't know" more than we tend to.

 

This guy's essays: http://www.paulgraha.../articles.html Some are highly-technical and not really applicable unless one is heavy into coding and others are concerned with tech startups and funding them (and are fascinating for those who are interested), but this  essay called "Why Nerds are Unpopular" is an example of his expository/philosophical writings, and a necessary read for any kid who reads the kinds of books recommended in this thread because they're probably "nerds," or would be if the term wasn't pretty much obsolete.

 

These are a few other essays I found especially insightful: Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule (THIS is why tinkerers and DIY-types, aka "makers," don't get along with management-types, or for that matter any arbitrary, inflexible bullshit like clocking-in and clocking-out. It's the most eloquent explanation I've read of a phenomenon that's infuriated and frustrated all mad scientists and their eternally-baffled managers at some point).

This one is sort of related to the above essay: You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss

A dose of humility is good every now and then: Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas

Fascinating perspective on the arbitrary social construct we call "morality:" What You Can't Say

 

I'd also suggest signing up for the RSS feed and reading... pretty much every single article published on this blog. It's a site dedicated to answering the question you posed with this thread, so it's like a portal to hundreds of incredible books, essays, and assorted writings that were "picked" specifically because they will stimulate the "brains" of people who actually use theirs, hence "Brain Pickings." Today's post seems particularly relevant to the topic at hand, interestingly enough.

 

 

Also, I'm glad to see the mention of Tom Brown, jr., As some of you know I've long been a dedicated student of all things Tracker and highly recommend his books, but more importantly to attend his actual school. And the younger someone starts, the better. I would go so far as to say that going to the Tracker School and living the teachings in the woods (to the extent I could) for a few years was among the most profoundly influential experiences of my life.

 

Nothing inspires self-confidence like -just as an example- knowing you can stop your car, jump out, and bail into the bushes at any random spot with nothing more than what you're wearing and be just fine (or if necessary, vanish into thin air and evade pursuit by human, dog, or helicopter-mounted thermal imager). Living in full-survival in wilderness also strips all of the bullshit off of our notions about reality because in that context, if our notions are wrong... we'll likely die.

 

Profound insights and philosophical musings found in books and such are all well and good, but IMO they are just the window-dressing of lived experience, aka "dirt time" in Tracker jargon. Like an ancient Wise Ass once said, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand" (I think it was Confucius, who was a smart dude but also kind of an asshole so I tend to avoid him).

 

Finding a healthy balance between reading books/absorbing abstract knowledge and "dirt time" seems to me like the way to go to maximize the benefits of both.

 

And of course, now matter how crazy life gets, never forget the wise words of a modern American sage who died way too young but probably had a fuller life than most who live twice as long (Bill Hicks): It's just a ride...


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#22 TastyBeverage

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 11:13 AM

Listen to TV, he's a smart man. Good recommendations.

 

I feel a deeper connection to confuscian thought than i do to zen buddhist thought, except for all of the misogynistic stuff. There's always something...


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#23 Alder Logs

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 12:06 PM

Reading has always been harder than doing, for me.  That's probably not such a bad thing.  It's just that I know I've missed a lot in the books that would take so many months for me to read.  When I was a kid in the LA burbs, I got a crystal radio for cereal box tops.  I would clip it to my bed springs and listen to talk radio shows from as far away as Chicago, New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco, the "clear channels."   Meanwhile, I was flunking every grade yet being passed so my teachers could be rid of me.  In the early grades, I tested years ahead in math, but zeroed in reading.  There was no word such as dyslexia in those days.  But for whatever reasons, they could not show me a way to read above a struggle over every other word. 

 

If I find enough value in what I'm reading, I might read some books several times.  But overall, I feel I've read so few compared to what I would have.  When my eyes got old and reading glasses came into play, it got really hard to do.  Now I read very few books.  I'm thinking about trying lasic eye surgery. 



#24 TastyBeverage

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 08:52 PM

Have you considered audio books? My wasband has a 45 minute commute twice per day so he listens to a lot of audio books. He uses Audible.. pretty good service.


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#25 Alder Logs

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 12:36 AM

I did a lot of novels on audio that I was given by a friend.  He died and I lost that source.  There isn't a lot of non-fiction that I would be interested in on audio.  I listened while I drilled and noced my shiitake logs, but mostly while I drove tractor.  I can't do anything that requires much attention and follow the thread of a book.  My friend spent a fortune on those books (from Audible), had I-tunes, and gave me an I-pod.  Now all I have is the I-pod and no way to load it.  The books I got from him were mostly to his tastes.  I passed on science fiction and fantasy.  I did the mysteries and historical fiction. 

 

When it comes down to it, most of my time these days is filled with activities that don't mix with listening to books, much less reading them.   It was nice to get some fiction on audio, as with my slow reading, and the work reading was for me, most all of my reads were for getting data.  I needed a pay-off for the work.  It was always too much work to be entertaining.  If I'm stuck in the house these days, I listen to satsangs on line.  I find that most fulfilling. 



#26 August West

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 01:03 AM

For anyone who went through or is going through a Prussian-based model:

 

"The Underground History Of American Education" by John Taylor Gatto

  • get it free from the archive
  • order it from that place that sells everything
  • listen to the audio book...it's only 24 hours long ;)
  • listen to a heady, lengthy interview with the author

The last bullet there, leads me to riff off of Bev's point, above. In these days of the interwebs, there is much value, ime, in terms of podcasts.

 

A rather dry (in a certain sense), yet invaluable line of inquiry for me has been the study of the Trivium. Not a book per se but a method of understanding the world.

"Tragedy And Hope: A History Of The World In Our Time" by Carroll Quigley The plates of the original were destroyed by the publisher. It was rereleased with sections removed. Eventually, someone began reprinting bootlegs from the original. Therefor, a first or second (I believe) is the one to get. I have heard that the newest editions have also restored the missing pieces but cannot confirm this. I have not checked the pdf I linked to see if the missing pieces are there but it does appear to be a second edition. A curious enough mind will figure out the rest.

 

Thanks for allowing me the 'non-book' indulgences.


Edited by August West, 05 November 2014 - 01:09 AM.

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#27 SteampunkScientist

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 10:29 AM

TV - I just read that "What Nerds are Unpopular" - wow! Reminds me of that Rush Song "Subdivisions"...  I was so that... that is, until I started playing heavy metal guitar.  Anyway, it sure brought me back.  Some great reads here!


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#28 niemandgeist

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 12:48 PM

I'm going to have to give a big double thumbs up to Frank Herbert's "Dune", for those who haven't read it. If you've seen the movie adaptation, don't worry... The book is WAY better.

 

http://en.wikipedia...._Herbert's_Dune

 

I only have a hardcopy of the book. I haven't been able to find a PDF version, but I'm sure if you dig around you can locate it. Still, the book is pretty massive so you'd do well to visit your local library and check it out for yourself!

 

EDIT: I'm including a few PDF books for others to enjoy as attachments:

 

* Harry Houdini - "The Right Way to Do Wrong: An Exposé of Successful Criminals (1906)"

---

 

* Sun Tsu - "The Art of War"

---


Edited by niemandgeist, 07 November 2014 - 12:57 PM.

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#29 TVCasualty

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 10:38 AM

I'm going to have to give a big double thumbs up to Frank Herbert's "Dune", for those who haven't read it. If you've seen the movie adaptation, don't worry... The book is WAY better.

 
Dune ought to be on every recommended (or required) reading list, especially for mycophiles since the whole thing was the result of a trip/vision he had from some of those super-potent psilocybes found in the Pacific Northwest. Or at the very least it should be on everyone's listening list... I first heard Dune in audiobook form (before I read it) and since it was a MP3 copy given to me by a friend I don't know the details about who published it but it was a really good version because it was unabridged and read by a single person who inflected his voice to differentiate characters (no sound effects or music, either).
 
That worked better than I expected (it was my first audiobook) and kept it from sounding like an old, slightly-cheesy radio drama where each part is read by a different voice actor and they all seem to have graduated from the William Shatner School of Over-Acting (which works great for Shatner or Adam West but the rest of us would get laughed off the stage when we weren't trying to be funny). It was 78 "Chapters" (since it was published on cassettes originally) and when my day was over I'd burn one, go to bed, and listen to a chapter w/ my headphones before going to sleep. It's WAY better than watching the damned TV!
 
Laying in the dark with some herb in my brain allowed me to put all my energy/focus into visualizing the narration to the point where I wouldn't consciously hear it as words being spoken. Instead it allowed me to "see" the imagery as it was being described and listen to the dialog as if I were in the room with the characters. Highly recommended (and pun intended). So far I've listened to it 4 times; the 3 other times were on long flights back and forth across the country (IMO it's better than music for making long stretches of boredom seem shorter since most songs tend to keep us consciously aware of time, probably because they end every few minutes).
 

TV - I just read that "What Nerds are Unpopular" - wow! Reminds me of that Rush Song "Subdivisions"...  I was so that... that is, until I started playing heavy metal guitar.  Anyway, it sure brought me back.  Some great reads here!


Where I live now I have a number of musician friends who make a living (or at least pay a few bills) playing music, the lucky bastards. Some are employed by the local symphony orchestra, some in rock/jam bands, and two in a local metal band that sounds pretty tight (I'd hope so since they've been practicing for about 20 years!). I found myself in the same type of scene wherever I've lived (which includes six different States) and in each place the metalheads were either the most well-read of any (by far) or at least were not any less well-read than the others (even compared to the classical musicians who went to one of them highfalutin' World Renowned Private Music Schools that's all about art and culture and stuff). I used to flail around in the pit with the other lunatics at Slayer/Ministry/etc. shows until getting stomped on wasn't as much fun as it used to be. So I went back to reading, lol.
 
 
Oh, and there's another woefully-underrated book that I often forget to recommend (given to me long ago by a friend in High School who was in a metal band, interestingly enough). That's probably because it makes Normals, Pinks, ConDupes, Glorps and assorted undesirables I show it to look at me like they think I'm probably mentally disturbed; well of course I am, but this isn't about me...

 

It's The Book of the Subgenius. It's a bit dated in some ways (e.g. the Church prophesy that the "world will end" in the not-too-distant future on X-Day: July 5th, 1998) but timeless in most others.
 
I'd say it's more like a mind-altering drug than a book (so long as you "use" it right), so be careful reading it if you've actually taken a mind-altering drug (seriously!) though I'd add that it seems to mix very well with some pure MDA (which was probably what the weirdos who wrote it were on). To "get" the point of it you have to grok the book's secret decoder ring that is found tucked among the first couple of pages under the heading "IGNORE THIS:". :ph34r: 
 
Thinking about it now I'd even say that once I really understood what they were getting at, that warning became one of the most important foundations of my persona; heeding it has kept me out of a LOT of trouble over the decades. And this simple illustration appearing within it inspired my approach to politics (in a Left/Right partisan sense) and expresses it more eloquently than a tedious 500-page "manifesto" or whatever ever could.



#30 SteampunkScientist

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 06:04 PM

...

Oh, and there's another woefully-underrated book that I often forget to recommend (given to me long ago by a friend in High School who was in a metal band, interestingly enough). That's probably because it makes Normals, Pinks, ConDupes, Glorps and assorted undesirables I show it to look at me like they think I'm probably mentally disturbed; well of course I am, but this isn't about me...

 

It's The Book of the Subgenius. It's a bit dated in some ways (e.g. the Church prophesy that the "world will end" in the not-too-distant future on X-Day: July 5th, 1998) but timeless in most others.
 
I'd say it's more like a mind-altering drug than a book (so long as you "use" it right), so be careful reading it if you've actually taken a mind-altering drug (seriously!) though I'd add that it seems to mix very well with some pure MDA (which was probably what the weirdos who wrote it were on). To "get" the point of it you have to grok the book's secret decoder ring that is found tucked among the first couple of pages under the heading "IGNORE THIS:". :ph34r: 
 
Thinking about it now I'd even say that once I really understood what they were getting at, that warning became one of the most important foundations of my persona; heeding it has kept me out of a LOT of trouble over the decades. And this simple illustration appearing within it inspired my approach to politics (in a Left/Right partisan sense) and expresses it more eloquently than a tedious 500-page "manifesto" or whatever ever could.

 

 

Good 'ol JR "Bob" Dobbs!

 

Oh my gosh I used to have that book - as I recall it was a huge "coffee table" sized book - and you are correct - that pic you linked really is key.

 

great stuff that...



#31 TastyBeverage

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 10:00 AM

I used to be a card carrying pope in the church of the sub genius!

 

I guess i'm still a pope, i just don't know where the card went.


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#32 pharmer

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 11:32 PM

Alder,

I'm finding several authors for the "auto"biography of Malcolm x

 

who wrote the one you read?


Edited by pharmer, 10 November 2014 - 11:32 PM.


#33 Alder Logs

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 12:33 AM

I read this one: https://en.wikipedia...hy_of_Malcolm_X


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#34 Zwapa

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 12:33 PM

used to read castaneda a lot, too much of toltec warriors etc...

kind of romantic soul



#35 Hephaestus

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 06:56 PM

Thank You For Arguing by Jay Heinrichs

 

The Mythic Image by Joseph Campbell

 

Dune, The Prince, and many others have already been added to this so no need to :deadhorse:



#36 Blissful

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:30 PM

Not sure if anyone has mentioned these yet. 

The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho

https://www.youtube....?v=LXymMEO-dtc 

 

 

and 

Stranger in a Strange Land

[Direct Link]

[Direct Link]


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#37 Zwapa

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 11:33 AM

Yep the alchemist is nice.

Just like i think it is "Jonathan Seagull" ?


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#38 Alder Logs

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 12:54 PM

Illusions is a good one too.  Thank you, Richard Bach. Glad you survived that bad crash.



#39 Soup

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 01:28 AM

For anyone who liked 'Quantum Psychology'...'Reality Isn't What It Used to Be' by Walter Truet Anderson is a decent descent into modern philosophical life. A very easy to understand analysis of post modernism. (How post modernism got such a bad name, I'll never understand...) Not as mind blowing as QP, but a book I've had over 15 years and still come back to.

 

 

'Shit My Dad Says' isn't exactly mind altering, but a fun and funny way to waste an afternoon.

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#40 August West

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 02:11 AM

Can't believe I left out the Stoics.

Meditations -Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome




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