I remember when I was small and just beginning to receive my education via Kindergarten and Vacation Bible School that many topics and concepts were presented to me in such a way as to put the focus on how I was supposed to perceive them rather than to encourage me to investigate and explore their possibilities.
Later, elementary school and church going did much the same and this carried right through high school. I must say, it had the opposite effect from that intended. Most of the instructors were like art experts leading a group of tourists through an exhibition for the purpose of interpreting for them that which they are viewing and thus saving them the trouble of having an opinion.
I found that most folks were happiest with this and experienced real discomfort when, however rarely, they might be called on to decipher things for themselves. In this scenario, the person who can memorize and parrot the buzzword and jargon-laden interpretation du jour of a blank canvas is hailed as an intellectual, while the person who points out the obvious will be denounced as a hillbilly.
From what I could discern by the time I got my two front teeth, there are two kinds of people the world over. Those that want to know things and are willing to use the intellect given them by their maker and those that choose to have others tell them what everything means. In part this phenomena is due to the awe of academia which is inculcated into the youngster. The valuable lesson of The Wizard of Oz seems to me to have been lost on most of my generation who were fortunate to have seen that movie.
The foregoing is in no way meant to imply that we do not need teachers and true experts to help us along the way to understanding things. Indeed we do. But what do we need them for precisely? I would venture to say that the most precious thing that they could give us is accurate, documented information or to put it another way, clean data. I would like to define my use of the word expert to mean someone who has exhaustively investigated a particular subject and thus has a greater share of data specific to that topic than the average person.
If the expert has done their work properly, the student may check all their sources and verify all the data. The boon to the student comes from having all the diverse sources collated into an index that makes for easier examination as regards to the time involved in this process. Just as there is an obligation upon the expert to conduct proper research, there is an equal obligation on the student to utilize their own intellect in assessing the data before them.
If a teacher gave a bowl of different kinds of bird eggs to five students for them to examine, they should all come away with five individual understandings of these items if left to their own senses and not subject to any input from the teacher. Having said this, they would all five undoubtedly have much the same things to say about the nature of these objects. This hints at the beauty of truth. It is verifiable at any time by anyone, thus we need not fear that each individual seeker of knowledge may incorporate those building blocks into a unique structure of thought.
Working backwards we might take the five unique reports of the students in the example above and sift them down to that which is common to all. Using that as a base we would be able to conduct our own further inquiries into the topic and have saved precious time in the bargain. This brings us to well-written books by reputable authors. They are powerful resources and can save us much lamp oil and shoe leather. They can never replace thinking however and a reputable author, in my opinion, would not want a non-thinker to tout their work.
Two of the topics, of the many that fascinated me from my earliest times were those of history and religion. Alas, it is these two precisely that remain the most nebulous and partly this is due to the fact that the majority by far of those who write on these subjects have an agenda, an ax to grind or are bullied and bribed to present their material in such a way as to lead a reader to a given conclusion. This is a science in of itself and was perfected long before technology greatly leveraged the effect.
If a person was given a bowl of different kinds of bird eggs to examine by a chicken egg farmer and was briefed beforehand upon what they were to conclude from studying them, that person's perception would be much different than if this same process was initiated by an environmentalists out to save the hummingbird or an African Bushman with an ostrich egg canteen around his neck.
Thus, a child who just goes and gathers a bowl of different kinds of bird eggs and studies them alone may come away with as much useful hard data as any of the aforementioned groups and also be free of their biases. The child will of necessity of being human have his own bias. It cannot be otherwise. If you presented a hummingbird eggshell and an ostrich eggshell to our Bushman for making a new canteen, which do you think he would choose?
So let us imagine for a moment that books well-written are like unto bowls of eggs. We should be able to glean from them much basic data that is appealing to common sense and obvious to any observer that glances inside. I would recommend to you three books by one author that deal with the two topics of history and religion.
The author is Douglas Reed and the books are Insanity Fair, From Smoke To Smother and The Controversy of Zion. The first was written in 1938, the second in 1948 and the third was begun in 1949 and finished in 1956 although the manuscript never came to light until 22 years after that. One book deals with the lead up to the First World War and the other deals with the aftermath and build up to the Second World War. It also served to show the accuracy of Mr. Reed's predictions outlined in the first book. Almost like a report card. The final book is an exhaustive, meticulous study on the genesis of Judaism and Zionism, their impact on Christianity and their role in history.
Mr. Reed was an Englishman who described himself as "relatively unschooled". He began work at 13 as an office boy and followed that with being a bank clerk at 19 at which time he enlisted to fight in World War One. In 1921 at the age of 26, he began working for the London Times as a telephonist and clerk. Not until the age of 30 did he become a journalist in the capacity of sub-editor. Three years after that, he became the assistant Times correspondent in Berlin and finally was the Chief Central European correspondent in Vienna of the same newspaper.
He reported from this vantage during the years between the wars. Many of the biggest players of the era, which I know only from newsreel clips, photos and textbooks, Mr. Reed knew personally by dint of having interviewed them in person or having sat down to coffee with them at cafes in Vienna, Berlin, Prague, London, Moscow or Budapest. This list includes villains such as Hitler as well as the nobility, heads of state and the diplomats of many countries. Added to this first hand perspective, Douglas also spoke to the janitors, maids, farmers, soldiers and commoners of Europe and their presence in his observations of the power brokers serves to ground the entire body of his writings in a reality that at once is translatable to any reader when trying to make sense of their own time or of his.
His training as a journalist, his experience as a soldier, his lack of a bow-tie and his own standards of excellence in his work all add up to one of the best bowls of eggs I have ever been handed on the topics of history and religion. From it I will make my own omelet and invite you to do the same.
I have long felt that religion and history are artificially joined at the hip and this condition gives explanation as to why they appear to limp like Quasimodo through recorded history when we try to study one without taking into account the other. The period of the last two thousand years in particular appears to defy all logic when viewed from the singular perspective of historical narrative that we have inherited in our own time. In concert with this we are confounded by the phenomenon in religious history that a seemingly global trend towards the eventual idea of a single universal deity dressed up in differing robes should be rather suddenly overshadowed by the idea of a singular god acting on behalf of one exclusive group of humans, whether it be to their benefit or to their detriment. Mr. Reed apparently pondered this same conundrum.
Through his news career, which predated the first transatlantic phone call, Douglas eventually began to notice that many of his dispatches to his employer were lost, altered or suppressed. This led to him breaking with the paper in 1943. It is important to note that he walked away from them. Soon afterward he was to enjoy world fame for his books, Insanity Fair, Disgrace Abounding, Lest We Regret, and Somewhere South Of Suez.
The figures of the sale of these books in their day is nothing short of impressive and I imagine that at one time Mr. Reed was a so-called household name in the literate world. After 1951 his book Far and Wide was published, which was a look at America through the eyes of an ex-pat Englishman with much experience and independent study under his belt. I am a born American and when I read that book I learned a lot from it. Being a North American, I found I had very different views on the monarchy of Britain than Mr. Reed but I also learned to cut them a modicum of slack as well. Just a wee, mind you.
What followed next was a complete shutting of the doors. His books were banished from bookstalls, publishers refused to speak to him and the wonderful books already published began to be withdrawn from library shelves and to literally “disappear”. If you had read his books without knowing about this censorship, I wager that you would certainly wonder why this was done. Did this finish the man? No.
In 1951 he began writing The Controversy of Zion. He was adding the Epilogue just before I was born. This book is over 500 pages and is thoroughly documented, sourced and indexed. It was, clearly, his magnus opus. He knew it would never be published in what remained of his lifetime and thus it sat in a zippered file on top of a wardrobe in Durban, South Africa for over two decades.
The most I have learned about the story of my Cherokee ancestors was from material gathered by a relatively unschooled Irish-American, James Mooney who was as scrupulous as he was meticulous. After reading a score of books about the story of the gypsies, I found that the most plausible and resonant attempt to trace that story was in the work of a French-Canadian author who's research and findings were endorsed wholeheartedly by the leader of the Romany Kris.
Similarly, I feel certain that Jewish people could learn much about their own story from this work of a relatively unschooled English newspaperman who utilized his skills of gathering facts and presenting them in a concise verifiable format. At all points, Reed allows his readers to draw their own conclusions while precisely articulating those of his own in a spirit of simply wishing to see the lives of all mankind improved. When he opines, the reader is made well aware of this.
Also, this book contains the best description of that notorious Texan, Colonel House that I have ever encountered to date. While not fully plumbing the depths of this shadow man's motivations and likely connections, Mr. Reed is easily savant enough to see through Mr. House's methods and he presents them to you in a way that a child could easily grasp. As a Texan, it has always intrigued me just how many Texans there are in history's woodpile.
I can tell you that the first two books I mentioned will give any reader a better sense of the modern history of the Western world when added to whatever texts they have read prior, particularly those texts provided in their education. This last mentioned book, however, will take the reader many layers deeper. Deeper than most folks in his day and in ours would be comfortable to venture. I will quote here from Edmund Burke, a quote included in the manuscript before me, “An event has occurred, upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to be silent.”
“The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching (plan), nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole.”
Read that quote of Carroll Quigley twice. He means it and he knows whereof he speaks. To many this man needs no introduction and for those who don't know who he is, it will be easy to establish his credentials. Here is a brief sketch of his accomplishments.
He was a professor of history at Harvard, Princeton and the Foreign Service School of Georgetown University. He was an editor of Current History monthly, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Anthropological Association and the American Economic Association. He has been a lecturer on Russian history at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, a lecturer on Africa at the Brookings Institution, a lecturer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, a lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute of the State Department and a lecturer at the Naval College at Norfolk, Virginia. He was a consultant to the Congressional Select Committee when they were setting up the present day space agency in 1958. He was a collaborator in history to the Smithsonian Institution after that year, when it established its Museum of History and Technology. In 1964 he went to the Navy post-Graduate School in Monterey, California as a consultant on Project Seabed. This project was to visualize what American weapons systems would be like twelve years into the future.
To you who are still reading this review, there are three very important books Mr. Quigley wrote that I heartily recommend you to read. The books are: The Evolution of Civilizations, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time and The Anglo-American Establishment.
It must be borne in mind that Mr. Q. was a willing member of the powers to which he refers to in the quote above. This review is thus, not written to shine a light on the professor. Anyone who bothers to read his books will stand in awe of his intellect, ability and thorough knowledge. He worked for the powers that be and was one of their own. He believed in their mission and educated their offspring with a much higher quality curriculum than most students have access to. The monied men who run the show have sought out, groomed and funded the very best and brightest minds that they can find and get on board since the beginning. Carroll was exceptional at history.
Being part of the ruling class himself, he was given access and funding to pore over the private records of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council of Foreign Relations. To simplify, he got to see the minutes of meetings that few eyes are privy to. In fact, the only wrinkle that I am aware of between Quigley and his bow-tie chiefs, was that Carroll was a forthright individual and truly believed that the world these men are attempting to create would be a better one and out of pride and enthusiasm, he thought it was time to let everyone in on the big plan.
His vehicle was Tragedy and Hope. Ironically, he was asked to write the book so the progeny of the elite would have a written record of their forebears exploits and in the process, in the opinion of his peers, he told to much. There was some trouble. After choosing a path of stealth, subterfuge and Fabianism, it just didn't feel right to the big shots to come clean. They live off of the masses of people that they fear and will not take their masks off until they believe that they have achieved total control and are at no risk themselves. At least, Carrroll had a pair. I recommend reading the books in the order listed here. The second book is over 1200 pages and the other two are more standard in length.
To those that are still reading now, I will tell you to also bear in mind that these books were not written for the average person. I do not mean that as regards intellect. We all possess that. Get a dictionary if need be and take your time reading it. Rather, I mean it was intended to educate those who would become the next crop of politicians and such to carry the ball and in order to do this, the truth must be told, as long as it is not told to the average person. This is exactly why the book is a valuable resource for the average person.
After reading these books, you will no longer be a history virgin but I can tell you that you will respect yourself in the morning. You will be amazed and probably angry by turns but if you chill and let the learning sink in of its own accord, I believe you will come to find a new kind of peace of mind in realizing that the world you see as you go through your day, regardless of your race, creed or color, makes perfect and logical sense. There is a plan, you were just not told about it. Neither were your parents or grandparents.
I disagree with Professor Quigley's estimation of civilization as outlined in the first book mentioned in this review. I do not disagree with his explanation of the mechanics of the evolution of civilization and I believe that without this broad view, one cannot hope to understand much of our world. I feel this difference in our outlooks betrays his own indoctrination and that time will prove him wrong. Simply put, he thinks that a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is parasitic, as do his peers and places it at the bottom of his time-line of “progress". I argue that his progressed civilization is parasitic and represents a decline in our civilization. I would take his time-line and bend it into a circle and then moving the start marker to now and show that natural humans would progress forwards toward what he calls primitive if left unmolested. Further, I would say that a mighty long time went by before the beginning of his time-line and it can easily be argued without easily being disproved that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle prior to Sumer was the pinnacle of civilization and we have, with the help of bow-ties, been in decline ever since. What do you think?
The book, Anthony Adverse, by Hervey Allen, is the first historical romance and H. A. is considered to be the inventor of the genre. From the first paragraph, one can see the skill at work here. With the perfect number of words, we are given the information necessary to feel the climate, learn the historical significance of the location, and have a good look at the characters. All without being too long or too curt; and when prose occurs, it is as natural as breathing. Later, the reader gets to see a powerful psychological analysis folded in with each portrait. The canvas is the world, and the main character, Anthony, is tracked from conception to the grave. Along the way, the reader is treated to an in-depth exploration of the human soul as well as geography, history, and politics. This is a book that demands being reread every decade or so. The canvas is so vast and well rendered, that your daily acquisition of knowledge, particularly in history, will be supplemented by this exceptional book. For those who are interested, the story was made into a wonderful movie. A personal note: Many scholarly people thrust books into my hands, and promise me a delirium of insights. I read them, usually to no avail. When I was twelve years old, during summer vacation at the beach house; my grandmother dropped a copy of the book on my bedside table. She did not say a word and I was instantly pulled into the story. More than thirty years later, I still learn from it.
This amazing man, merits having all his books read. They are numerous and among them you will find, The Vision, The Tracker, The Search, The Way of The Scout, and The Journey. In addition to these are his series of field guides. Tom is an American from New Jersey. He and his friend, Rick, were educated by Rick's Apache grandfather. Grandfather was an exceptional being and Tom was an exceptional student. In my own view, all of Tom's books and the survival school he operates, are his way of trying to share the best of Grandfather's teachings. The books are definitely life-changing and this is the measure of their worth. You cannot read these books and see through the same eyes as before. The language is very simple, yet the topics are of the utmost spiritual depth. Tom can do things that Grandfather taught him, that seem so fantastic as to be impossible. He has been hired by police and government, to find missing people. He learned to do this as a boy. As Tom teaches in his books, we all have this ability, it waits to be developed as we reconnect with our mother, the earth. The survival skills are valuable and the adventure is real. Throughout the books you will become more aware of Grandfather's lessons. Contrary to most aboriginals, Grandfather studied all religions and absorbed what was true of each. He had a practical criterion. Things that he could take with him and use anywhere, at any time. This, upon reflection, is far better than a spiritual bureaucracy and complicated rituals. Grandfather put the best knowledge in his medicine pouch. Tom Brown,Jr. is the syrinx for the transmission of this distilled wisdom. Reading these books will make you ashamed: not ashamed of people, but of blindness, of ignorance, and of fear. Your progress through the books will be accompanied by the development of a warm, healthy pride. You will see the true face of fear. This is because of the ancient knowledge seeping into your consciousness. You will reach a plateau where you become aware that we are spontaneously creating our reality. The future is made of different possibilities that we cause to materialize, by focusing our thoughts. Look at the world, and understand that it is actually the world of our own choosing. In this place, you have a great responsibility. In this place, you become a spiritual warrior. A scout. Tom, Grandfather is smiling.
I like to take a walk after supper in the evenings. One summer night I was particularly eager to go out and find some high ground. It was a special evening. The sun and a full moon were both overhead at the same time. The sun was about 30 degrees above the horizon in the west, and the moon was at the same elevation in the south-east. A time of much power. I found a good vantage point, in the middle of a quiet intersection. I was in front of a house that had a garden full of strange vegetation. I had seen it many times on my walks. I could only guess at the species. As I stood directly in the centre of the solar and lunar influences, I felt a presence. I looked down and noticed another man standing in the middle of the street. It was obvious that we were doing the same thing. We laughed and greeted each other. He was a rugged looking person with a god-like beard and a ready smile. He had a PhD in botany and was a specialist on psychotropic vegetation. We had a spirited conversation, in which I learned much. The book I will speak about is, One River, by Wade Davis. He is also the author of, The Serpent and the Rainbow. That book was made into a movie and is about the voudoun religion of Haiti. Wade is a native of my town, Vancouver, and he probably was a source of inspiration for the man I met, while watching the moon and sun. Wade studied botany at Harvard, and his mentor was, Richard E. Schultes. Wade and a colleague followed in Schultes' footsteps, through some of the most remote parts of Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. The book, One River, tells about these scientific adventures. The book is a fascinating blend of memoir, field notes, recollections, and history. To all this, add geology, geography, and humor. Mostly, it is a tribute to Dr. Schultes. If you look at the Latin names of South American species of vegetation, many have the name, schultesii. You will learn the history of the rubber industry. You will also learn about the critical job done by Schultes, for America's rubber program. You will be amazed to learn how much we depend on this commodity. During the Second World War, after the conquest of Malaysia, America had only three months supply of rubber. Schultes was sent to the jungle by the American government, with orders to find new varieties of wild rubber. The book also tells of the brutalities that were inflicted upon the aboriginals of South America by greedy rubber barons. By the example of Schultes, we learn that it is possible to achieve a dialogue with mutual respect between a Harvard scientist, and a medicine man from the Vaupés River. You will learn about coca, ayahuasca (yagé), peyote, teonanacatyl, and all kinds of psychoactive vegetation. A most intriguing thing: Schultes learned that aboriginals classify vegetation in an entirely different way than scientists do. There is a type of psychoactive vine in Colombia. According to the locals, it has many varieties; but no differences can be detected by modern methods of taxonomy. One variety gives you a vision of being a condor, and it is appropriately named in the local dialect. Another variety turns you into a jaguar, and another was described, "It is like being shot out of a rifle, that is lined with baroque paintings, and falling into a sea of electricity." A native can distinguish these different varieties at a distance of twenty-five meters. Schultes tried many of these substances and his usual comment was, "I see colours. Nothing more." He did not allow malaria, beri-beri, hostile natives, bureaucrats, or waterfalls to stop him. He never carried a weapon. I hope you enjoy this wonderful book!
In his Glencannon stories, Guy Gilpatric proves his genius. The stories were written between 1929 and 1941. They follow the adventures of Colin Glencannon, the Chief Engineer of a tramp freighter, the SS Inchcliffe Castle. As he exercises his guile on an unsuspecting planet, we are treated to a perfect diamond, in story form, that is designed to incapacitate us with laughter. The entire world is the backdrop and the stories happen in many different ports. Drink a drop of Duggan's Dew of Kirkintilloch while you argue bitterly, if cats can sweat. Glencannon maintains that they can, "Copiously, through their feet", and he is willing to prove his assertion, with a scientific experiment. Do not read this book in bed. The sound of your convulsive laughter could cause your eviction.
Harrer's book, Seven Years In Tibet, is well known because of the film. The book, White Spider, is less known and it deserves mention. It is a complete (up to the time it was written) history of the north face of the Eiger. There is a relatively easy passage up the north-west face, along a ridge. It has been climbed by thousands. The north face is a different matter. Heinrich was with the first successful party to ascend it. The outstanding thing about this book is that it is absolutely true. The pictures that accompany the book, will rock your boat. It is an epic tale. It is told with clarity and detail. There is no braggadocio, or false humility. There are no base emotions. There is a lot of negative text on the internet about Heinrich. This is due to the time and circumstances, and you must draw your own conclusions. Remember that the man in the book is a very young man, at the time of the story. If you read Seven Years In Tibet, you will see that there are flaws in the movie. Would he climb the Eiger again? Never! This book answers the question, "Why, do men climb mountains?"
I can safely bet that you live in the "modern" world. We use things that yesterday seemed too fantastic to exist outside of science fiction; and we are hardly able to absorb new technologies. They increase exponentially, like a piece of dough pulled into millions of thin noodles by a Shanghai chef. We can repeat the handful of names that are credited with the invention of these miracles, as per our history books. Have you ever wondered, why the world turned modern and who were the people responsible for it? Just when did it start to happen? Depending on your place of education and level of education, you would answer these questions quite differently. Arthur Herman gives us his answers in his stimulating book, How The Scots Invented The Modern World. Oops, the title gives it away! Do not worry, reading this book is like encountering an old friend after many years of separation, and discovering that they are absolutely fascinating in ways you never dreamed of when you "knew" them. Mr. Herman holds a Ph,D. in history, and he has written a thoroughly researched book. His focus is as clear as a mountain stream. The book is readable, and is written with a master's skill. It is made enjoyable by the anecdotal passages. These are perfectly balanced with the historical information, the insights, the opinions, and the pure facts. The result is a book, that is more than the sum of its parts. You will learn about many people who permanently changed the planet you live on. You will meet others who have been hidden beneath the names of other men. You will encounter pioneers. In every conceivable field of study. Time and again, it was a Scot who did a great deed, or it was a Scot who was the teacher, tutor, mentor, or inspiration, of the man who did. You will learn who taught the founding ideals for the formation of America. You will see the large debt that Canada, England, and Australia owe to the Scottish intellect. You will see a definite pattern emerge from the book. New ideas are conceived, nurtured, and delivered. Anything that does not work properly, is simply re-invented. The areas of accomplishment include architecture, medicine, philosophy, engineering, all branches of science, education, politics, warfare, literature, commerce, manufacture, religion, and many more. The stage is every corner of our planet. All this came from Western Europe's poorest nation. A people with humor and common sense. It is very clear, that these people possess hungry minds that cannot be sated. They have learned to endure their empty stomachs. Their martial spirit, coupled with a brilliant intellect and a non-racist attitude, is the force that is driving the ship of modern civilization. Many of us were looking at the horizon and forgot to look into the engine room. Arthur Herman will give you a tour, and he will dispel the stereotypes and myths, of this Promethean branch of humanity.
I read the autobiography of an exceptional man, Garry Kasparov. He was born in Baku, on the Caspian Sea, of an Armenian mother and a Jewish father. Kasparov is a name that you will continue to hear for decades to come. He was twenty-two years old when he won the World Chess Championship. His autobiography, Child of Change, was written with the help of Donald Trelford, two years later. The story that is told in this autobiography is informative and inspirational. Garry talks about the qualities a champion must possess. He talks about the political intrigue that lurks in the chess world, as it does everywhere. He introduces the past Grand Masters and his contemporary rivals, particularly Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov explains that the best chess players have very different ways of playing the game. There is a Swedish player who is a master at defense and can thwart any attempt to attack . Karpov's style is to play without making any bad moves. As soon as his opponent makes the slightest error, Karpov crushes him. In contrast to this, Garry is a combatant who advances aggressively, attacking and thrusting. He is also able to adjust to the constantly changing situation. Josh Waitzkin (Searching for Bobby Fisher) plays in this style. After I read Garry's book, I began to perceive the difference between him and Fisher. It is similar to the difference between Karpov and Kasparov. Fisher is totally absorbed with chess. He has no interest in anything else. This is an unbalanced approach to life. Karpov is very similar to Fisher. Karpov's lack of physical training is a weakness which can easily be exploited. Garry does swimming, he plays soccer, and he plays tennis. He also pursues academic subjects, in addition to chess. I believe this physical superiority and a balanced lifestyle helped Garry defeat Karpov during the championship of Feb. 1985. It was the longest chess competition in history. Karpov was mentally and physically drained, and he wanted to resume the contest at a later date. Florencio Campomanes, the President of FIDE, intervened on behalf of Karpov. Kasparov protested this decision, and created the Professional Chess Association. Later, he played a series of games against Deep Blue, a chess super-computer. Garry will do anything to promote chess, and whether or not you are a student of chess, you will find much of value and interest, in Child of Change.
Nikos received a Law Degree at the University of Athens, then he went to Paris to study philosophy under Henri Bergson. Next, he went to Germany and Italy for further studies in literature and art. In 1945, he was the Greek Minister of Education, and the President of The Greek Society of Men of Letters. He wrote novels, poetry, and travel literature. His epic work, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, took twelve years to complete. It continues the story from the point where Homer ended the original. It is one of the masterpieces of the twentieth century. Most people are familiar with The Last Temptation of Christ. Certainly, everyone is familiar with the character of Zorba The Greek. It is a miraculous author that can distill the ocean of human existence into three hundred pages. It is a skilled writer who can incorporate the best and the worst of man into so few characters. The book needs to be re-read at each new season of your life. As you mature, the book will teach you more, and it will confirm what you already know. I am always concerned when a beloved book is made into a movie. This book was turned into an outstanding movie. No actor could have been Zorba except
Anthony QuinnI do not think this was an accident. There are many fatherless sons in the world. Kazantzakis was a brilliant man and his brilliance is evident in Zorba. Pang was a Chinese sage who studied to be a master of zen. He renounced the world. He renounced fame and fortune. This is the point most students of zen attempt to attain. Not Pang. He (in a Zorba fashion) realized, that although he understood science and academia, he was a man. It was time to burn his books and go to live. He did that. He had a wife and many children. They (Buddha forbid) made a business of selling pots and pans. He was challenged to zen duels by all the masters of zen. He won each time. When he came to a new town, Pang would go to see its resident master. Pang would then teach him a lesson. He was never defeated. This is known as transcending. A common mistake of students is to attempt to go too fast. The next most common mistake is to get lost in study. This is Zorba's message: We must learn how reality works, but then we must realize that we are an inextricable part of the whole of life. If we can accomplish this, keep our compassion for the abject creatures (ourselves) that we are struggling to rise above; then it is time for a sip of raki. I have much to tell you.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.