7 Books and 7 Movies!

Dec 8, 2019 · 5 min read

Possibly the only reason for this post is the opportunity to put these thumbnails together in a tapestry of images. It somehow satisfies the collectors spirit, having things organised into such uniform boxes. The eye can sweep over its domain and see that, ‘it is good’. Like Barker’s ‘Weaveworld’, it leaves the impression of something rich and almost mouth watering waiting just beyond the veil; Other Worlds, captured and laid out in an iridescent display. (OK, maybe a bit over the top)

This collection may give the impression of a longing for escapism. I can only blame that on being ‘read to’ as a child. (ha ha) It gave me the view that behind our ‘veneer world’ of everyday life there was a much more interesting web of correlations, characters and synchronicities, constantly vying to break through to the ‘surface’.

The books that stuck with me are still popular now of course. Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the wild things are’, Enid Blyton’s Faraway tree series, the strange northern lands inhabited by the moomins and the mysterious desert lands of 1001 nights.

Castaneda’s books, first read in my teenage years, were a natural progression for me. What a marvellous world he managed to conjure up. There is plenty of debate about the man himself; Shaman or charlatan? There always is and always has to be with this sort of stuff. How can you pin down the mysteries of life and death to the certainties of yes, no, true or false?

We would like to put all our hopes in ‘objective truth’. That way we can stop thinking about it; Rub our hands together, muttering ‘job done’, pack up and go home. With Castaneda’s books the question should not be, ‘are they true?’, but instead ‘What effect do they have?’.

I must admit they had a strong effect on me.

Monroe’s books were also devoured at that time. They were certainly feeding some need in me. With these sort of books there is always that struggle. Half of me is mumbling ‘What bullshit!’ and the other part is saying, ‘but the message and central core seem so resonant!’ Certainly with Monroe’s writing I teetered between sceptic and ‘believer’. In moments of weakness I could always reason that Monroe was translating from a symbolic, thought-form non-verbal sort of communication into his home town American dialect. You’ve got to expect a bit of ‘jarring’, i suppose.

Again though, the book had a strong effect. The book by Tom Campbell, one of Monroe’s engineers, is also really strong (If a bit long-winded)

I became interested in the ideas of G I Gurdjieff through the writings of Ouspensky. ‘In search of the Miraculous’ is a great book because it appears to be an honest account of his time as a student of Gurdjieff. It is much more accessible than Gurdjieff’s own writing. This book and James Moore’s biography, ‘The anatomy of a myth’ are great introductions, before one takes the plunge and delves deeper into Gurdjieff’s own work.

To me, ideas, theories and philosophies can soon start to appear quaint and dated. This is particularly marked as we are thrust at break-neck speed into our technological future. Whenever I read Gurdjieff it alway feels alive and contemporary.

Is Bukowski a bit of a one trick pony? Quite possibly, but his work at least feels honest. There is a poetry and word-craft here, with absolutely no ‘padding’. Ham on Rye is semi-autobiographical and will appeal to all those who have felt a bit of an outsider, un-cherished for the great gifts they could bestow on humanity, if only given the chance, all the while wrestling with plummeting self-esteem!

Anything by Murakami is going to be interesting. He teases out the hidden strands of connection and meaning. The ‘ordinary’ veneer is thin, but beautifully rendered and always, just around the corner, signs, portents and marvels are bursting through; A mutable, dream-like spell is cast over what only seemed to be mundane. My son and I listened to the audio book of ‘Kafka on the Shore’, while on holiday; One earphone each. A magical journey.

When i read Thus spoke Zarathustra I was ‘blown away’ by the sheer exuberance and energy coming from the text. It is ‘flowery’, yet also uncompromising. There is a longing and madness here. I can’t say i have read much Nietzsche, but i enjoyed this. I do find a lot of the so called great philosopher’s musings a bit like pissing in the wind. They appear to be maestros of intellectual onanism; Trapping themselves in ever more elaborate mazes and ever decreasing circles. This book, however, seems to combine the intellect with the emotional, giving it more power.

I enjoyed ‘The Way of Wyrd’ as a teenager. The cover states it’s a cross between Castaneda and Tolkein! What’s not to like? An early christian scribe is introduced to the world of an Anglo-saxon sorcerer.

Now as far as movies go, if i’m blubbing like a baby, then I'm happy! What gets me going? The elderly reminiscing about their lives, lost loves, alternate time-lines where things have been lost, people have never met and fast friends do not know each other; The glimpse of recognition when eyes meet, but then it’s gone because history has not unfolded ‘properly’. The noble character that accepts their fate and walks toward it without fear; Self sacrifice in any form!

All eternal themes i’m sure.

Mr Nobody is a great movie. The last mortal on earth looks back on his life, and we follow the strands of his past as they bend and change; A very poignant essay on fate, mortality, consequence and love.

Casanova, the BBC mini series, with David Tennant, pulls on the same heart strings. Casanova, approaching death, looks back on his past and the persistent thread of ‘the love that got away’. It’s fast moving and fun, but when it gets you, it really gets you!

I must like ‘slow cinema’! 2001: A space odyssey and Kurosawa’s Dreams are not exactly fast paced. I think i enjoy being drawn in and slowly mesmerised by a film. ‘Dreams’ is a visual feast and one has so long to linger on every frame! There is something about the act of absorption and saturation with this process. I found ‘The Tunnel’ vignette particularly moving.

When my kids were growing up we watched all the Miyazaki animated movies. The poor souls didn’t know who Disney was! Princess Mononoke is still a favourite. We didn’t learn about ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. Here we find a host of ambiguous characters; I’m afraid there are no easy messages to be had.


Written by


Head in the clouds, but really quite practical. Fine art trained, but frequently seduced by the promise of science. https://instagram.com/goat777etc

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