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Jul 21 2009

Look Out! A Meme! 15 Books I’ve Read That Will Always Stick With Me (Part the First)

Yes, I’ve been tagged with the meme that seemed to run through Facebook, then escaped into the blogoshpere at large. DuWayne got tagged, and spread the love around to include me and several others.

The instructions as originally given:

  • Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you.
  • First 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
  • Copy the instructions into your own note, and be sure to tag the person who tagged you.
  • If you can’t read, just list the picture books you looked at.

As DuWayne mentioned in his post, “I say fuck that bullshit – don’t be entirely constrained by rules!!!!111!1!1” I too have a bit of an ADD problem going on (my brain chemistry is fucked, but I get by). Fifteen minutes? I would have had to write this post immediately after getting tagged, and… Ooooh, shiny!

So in the meantime, a few of the titles that really did influence me in ways that others (though I enjoyed them) simply didn’t sprang to my mind. Just thinking of a couple of them brought a smile to my face. In no particular order, I present my fifteen books. (Title links go to Amazon if possible.) Okay, so I had to cut this one short. Five listed below, more to follow later.

Neuropolitique by Dr. Timothy Francis Leary
Many people will say that Dr. Leary was simply a washed up old hippie, or that he was just a drug pusher, etc. Dr. Leary helped me think about things in ways I wasn’t used to. He honestly helped me to learn to think for myself. All I can say is, “Read this book!” Oh yeah, I almost forgot: “Think for yourself! Escape the gene pools!”
The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
A simply amazing work of fiction. But is it really fiction? Actually, a lot of it is philosophy. It’s about belief. It’s about conspiracies. It’s about knowledge. It’s about secret societies. It’s about a lot of things. Be warned that this really isn’t an easy book to read. It isn’t supposed to be. It’s supposed to make you think. As Mayor Daley shouted at Senator Ribicoff, “Ewige Blumenkraft!
The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and Citadel of Science by Robert Anton Wilson
Okay, to be honest, I could pick any of this man’s books that I’ve read for inclusion in this list. Yes, his stuff has meant a lot to me. I’ll simply let the author give you a taste from a 1988 interview:

I coined the term irrational rationalism because those people claim to be rationalists, but they’re governed by such a heavy body of taboos. They’re so fearful, and so hostile, and so narrow, and frightened, and uptight and dogmatic… I wrote this book because I got tired satirizing fundamentalist Christianity… I decided to satirize fundamentalist materialism for a change, because the two are equally comical… The materialist fundamentalists are funnier than the Christian fundamentalists, because they think they’re rational! …They’re never skeptical about anything except the things they have a prejudice against. None of them ever says anything skeptical about the AMA, or about anything in establishment science or any entrenched dogma. They’re only skeptical about new ideas that frighten them. They’re actually dogmatically committed to what they were taught when they were in college…

A lot of you probably never even heard of Robert Anton Wilson. He was a philosopher, storyteller, agnostic mystic, etc… and the world needs more people like him. From one of his other works (which I also have, and have read), he said “belief is the death of intelligence.” There’s a documentary about him called “Maybe Logic“, and if you’re interested in who he was, check it out.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolien
No link this time. If you don’t already own it, or haven’t read it, or can’t find it, then I’m not the one to help you. I’ve read this several (okay, many) times since I first picked it up at about the age of eleven. The imagery, the languages, everything about it is epic. Come to think of it, I’m due for another re-read of this again soon.
Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society by Peter McWilliams
I actually read this book before its street date. I worked part time at a Waldenbooks at that time (a second job for extra income and great book discounts). The manager had received a promo copy and asked if I’d like to have it. But of course! I guess I really am anti-authoritarian. You can read the text of this book at Peter’s web site. Sadly, Peter was diagnosed with both cancer and AIDS in 1996. Following legal battles about medical marijuana with the federal government, Peter died on June 14th, 2000 while out on bond awaiting sentencing . Some critics of US drug policies consider his death a murder, and the murderer is the United States government.

That’s right; only five. That’s why this is only the first part. Thinking about these books has got me thinking about a lot of other things, and my mind is racing around in a bazillion different directions. Thanks, DuWayne. No, really: thanks. This means I’m going to pick up some of these books again, and that’s one of the best things one friend can do for another.

Check back later for Part the Second!

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