re you a wee bit paranoid about the state of the world? Cynical about the motivations of your fellow man? Do you fear that people are basically small-minded, violence-prone savages and that civilization is on the slide over an abyss of environmental and social destruction?
Relax, Rob Brezsny, the weekly columnist of Free Will Astrology, is prepared to put your mind at ease with his new book, Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia. In fact, he claims that the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings, and has 296 pages to prove it.
In short, the same attributes youre likely to find in his weekly column, with the densely sinuous prose to match.
Published by Frog, Ltd. of Berkeley, California in paperback at $19, Pronoia is a new age workbook filled with ideas for generating optimism. Topics such as Drowning in Love, The Universe is Made of Stories, Subvert Colonialism and I Have a Dream offer fresh ways of looking at life from visionary thinkers such as Ursula Le Guin, Isaac Newton, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Salvador Dali, Martin Luther King, Buddha, Jesus and hundreds of others. Its sort of a Chicken Soup for the Holistic Soul.
Not that Brezsny would invite that comparison. In fact, he disparages the reference early on: I invite you to share with us the interesting good news you come across in your travels, he writes. Not sentimental tales of generic hope; not Chicken Soup for the Soul; not life imitating the faux Hollywood art of contrived happy endings; but rather crafty, enigmatic, lyrical eruptions of the sublime...
Whatever, perhaps a Whole Earth Catalog of Hope would be a more fitting comparison. Brezsny pokes gentle fun at modern fears, illuminating the bright side of life with a passionate cry for optimism.
His Hype-ocalypse quiz, for instance, invites readers to Rank your favorite doomsday scenarios in order of preference. The 31 choices include wealthy philanthropists give everyone in the world $100,000, causing mass insanity, stupidity becomes popular and a revolt of super-intelligent machines along with popular concerns such as the earth being struck by an asteroid or the destruction of the ozone layer. After awhile, it sinks in that its pointless to worry about things beyond our control.
Brezsny has written an interactive book that can be enjoyed in any order. Commune with the book as if it were made of music as well as writing, he suggests in the instructions which kick off the text. Let the recurring melodic and rhythmic themes guide your passage.
He also invites readers to consider themselves coauthors, reading along with pencil in hand to fill in the margins with thoughts and drawings. Jot down the five things you most want to accomplish in the next 20 years, he suggests. Name the people youd like to see naked. Write the first two sentences of your 500-page autobiography.
The book is a sort of almanac of Brezsnys interests in everything from poetry and mythology to philosophy and political thought. Opening Pronoia at random to pages 114-115, for instance, we find thoughts on the divide between good and evil by Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn; the symbolism behind the journey of the underworld goddess, Hecate; an appeal to push past Jesuss injunction to love they neighbor by embracing his dark, difficult side as well; and the meaning of our personalitys shadow as expressed by psychologist Carl Jung. And thats just for starters. If you