Tag Archives: philosophy

First time novelist Matthew Félix delivers great escapism and some light philosophy with “A Voice Beyond Reason”

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Pablo is an ordinary 20-something man living in a quaint Spanish village near the Mediterranean coast. He finds himself leading a simple, yet near ideal life. He’s employed in his mom-and-dad’s small grocery store. He has a pretty girlfriend, a cadre of good pals, a motorcycle … and he belongs to a supportive, tight-knit community.

But Pablo’s world is about to be shattered by tragedy. Suddenly, his comfy foundation is pulled out from under him. So many things he took for granted are gone.

The upending of his pleasant existence launches him on an unexpected journey of self-discovery that may not have happened if fate hadn’t thrown him a painful curve ball.

His journey of self-discovery manifests as a struggle between to competing viewpoints of modern life:

One is the dominant paradigm today, the pragmatic rationalism of a materialistic, scientific world view – versus that which many people today believe has been suppressed – a perspective focused inward on intuitive, non-rational, nonlinear and feelings-based cues that can lead to insights that may seem unrealistic at first, but tend to carry greater meaning, and ultimately, deeper value.

If I’m making this seem like this is a book of deep philosophy, it’s not that, or at least doesn’t read that way thanks to the skillful way author Matthew Félix lays out his story, so much of which takes place on surface, and where the action is stalled only occasionally for the deeper lessons the author wants to describe.

The latter is provided by the appearance of a classic figure of myth, literature and lore – the “Wise Old Man,” described as an archetype by the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, and “a stock character” by Northrop Fry’s “Anatomy of Criticism.”

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The archetypal Wise Old Man instructs a youth. Illustration by Gustave Doré

In this case, it’s the mysterious Victor Sarquino, a man with deep roots in the Andalusian region but who has not been seen in Pablo’s village for more than a quarter century, only to return suddenly for unknown reasons. He’s the classic archetype: Elderly, white bearded, piercing blue eyes and brimming with sage advice. (Think Gandalf, Merlin, Obi-Wan Kenobi …)

If there’s any weakness to this novel it’s the way Pablo and Victor engage in a series of philosophical dialectics that stops the flow of the narrative so that our hero can pepper his mentor with (often whiny) questions, prompting the Wise Old Man to dole out his wisdom, which border on becoming rather preachy lectures for us readers.

The great strength of this book, however, is the way Matthew Félix’s weaves spectacular observations of nature into the flow of the narrative. Because it’s set in the one of the most ancient and picturesque regions of the world, the Mediterranean coastal regions of southern Spain, the author has abundant material to leverage.

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Matthew Félix

The natural environment takes center stage as a major character of the novel. Also, Pablo appears to gain strength, wisdom and insight from engaging with the spectacular scenery — rugged mountains, sparkling oceans, and splendid landscapes graced by groves of olive, almond or carob trees. There’s also misty caves, mountain goats, falcons, wildflowers and Neolithic rock formations to invoke a deeper sense of place and mystery.

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The Alhambra of Granada, Spain Photo by ángel mateo

I must also mention Mr. Félix’s obvious appreciation for ancient Moorish architecture and references to the passing cultures of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians – all of whom vied for dominance of this resplendent land for thousands of years – and this enriches the narrative with a profound acknowledgment of the importance of history.

Unlike the rather rote dissertations on intuition and inner wisdom we get from the dialog with old Señor Sarquino – the author deftly allows us experience the profound landscape of timeless, romantic Spain through the eyes of his main character – and this is where the novel truly sores.

There is one aspect of the novel that remains a bitter disappointment to me – but I will not discuss that here – for the very reason is that I know that 95% of other readers will disagree with me on this issue. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what I might be  talking about … if you even can.

All in all, though, this is a fine first novel that provides great escapism, a just profound-enough philosophical message to inspire, and an interesting enough plot to keep us turning pages while we root for the protagonist and cheer him forward on his journey of discovery.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Lawyer turned psychic Nancy du Tertre fascinates with “How to Talk to An Alien” going where few other UFO books have gone before

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Just when you think that most UFO books today have grown monotone, repetitive and threadbare, along comes an author with a refreshing angle to explore an intriguing niche of ufology no one else has significantly covered.

In “How to Talk to an Alien,” NANCY DU TERTRE takes on the question of human-to-alien communication, but also, the overall nature of just what constitutes an “alien language,” including possible alien alphabets, writing styles and scripts, spoken languages and psychic or telepathic-enabled communications. But there’s even more, such as a gander down through history at ancient forms of writing that have been attributed to “angels,” long before we started framing our reality in terms of modern science.

What’s also fascinating is that du Tertre comes to this issue out of left field — her primary “day job” has nothing to do with flying saucers and extraterrestrial aliens. She’s a high-powered New York securities litigation attorney, and successful businesswoman who stumbled into the weird world of the paranormal more or less by accident.

The author says she had no interest in topics paranormal until age 35. It was then that she was invited to attend a workshop exploring the topic of intuition for psychologists by noted psychotherapist Dr. Ron DeAngelo – she was the only non-psychotherapist invited, but Dr. DeAngelo thought his lawyer friend would find it beneficial. (Du Tertre details this event in her book “Psychic Intuition.”)

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“The Skeptical Psychic” Nancy du Tertre

To make a long story short, a bizarre experience at the workshop launched du Tertre into an entirely new phase of life – she began to explore her own psychic abilities, studied (and interned) with a famous psychic police detective, took training in REMOTE VIEWING – and about 10 years later emerged with her old paradigms shattered (or at least vastly expanded).

Somewhere along the way du Tertre’s psychic explorations cross-pollinated with the subject of extraterrestrials (or extradimensionals), UFOs and the like, and so now we have a fascinating book that begs the question: “What do the aliens have to say and how do they say it?”

The title is my only quibble with this outstanding book – this is not really a “how to” book and it won’t teach you “how to talk to an alien.” Rather, it’s an overview of cases involving close encounters where people engaged in two-way communications with other nonhuman beings of wide variety – and then seeks to form some theories and opinions about what it all means.

As I was reading, I was reminded of the great theoretical physicist RICHARD FEYNMAN. That’s because he had a knack for asking basic questions that no one else would even think of asking, questions that were quirky and weird, such as “Do numbers come in colors?

Well, Ms. du Tertre is asking those basic, yet unusual kinds of questions, such as, “Do aliens have mouths with actual tongues in them, vocal cords and a larynx that they can use to make the sounds of speech?” Then she looks at specific cases, from the famous accounts, such as that of Brazilian farmer and lawyer Antônio Vilas-Boas, who was abducted in 1957 and forced to have sex with an alien.

The author is able to give this and many other well-known cases an intriguing new freshness because she is laser-focused on revisiting these events with the purpose of looking specifically at how communications were experienced by the subjects.

She also provides us with new perspectives on monumental historic events, such as the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, and the works of the famous English mathematician-genius and polymath JOHN DEE, adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. Dee is well-known for having “channeled” what is known today as the Enochian Alphabet, also called the “Angelic Alphabet,” the “Divine Language,” or “Language of the Gods.”

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Dr. John Dee

Dee reports that he received a visitation from a levitating angelic figure who gave him a kind of scrying stone through which he coaxed out and ratiocinated a symbolic form of transmundane, symbolic language. His description of the events sounds a lot like one of today’s alien visitation scenarios.

It’s all deliciously fascinating, and what’s better is du Tertre’s marvelously fluid and easy writing style which makes this a user-friendly read for any mainstream audience. She never talks down to us, yet provides even intellectuals with plenty of fodder to chew upon.

The only sad thing for me is that the 175 pages melted by for me as quickly as a pleasant dream from an afternoon nap – I was left profoundly wishing that du Tertre could have given us a couple hundred more pages.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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British author Martyn Wilson’s “Enlightenment: The Keys to Consciousness” is a worthy addition to an ancient topic

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

One of my favorite sayings from the Zen tradition is: “To talk about Zen is to not know Zen.”

I think it’s also true, then, to say that, “To write about Zen is not to know Zen either.”

Furthermore, reading a book about Zen is no way to get to really know or understand Zen.

We can substitute the word “Enlightenment” for Zen in all of the above statements. To talk about Enlightenment, to write about it, to read books it is no way to truly understand Enlightenment.

I suspect the author of this book, a down-to-earth, working-class British man by the name of MARTYN WILSON, would agree.

No one else can describe for you or explain Enlightenment. No one else can give it to you. You can only find it for yourself. And once you find it for yourself, you’ll never in a million years be able to fully explain to someone else just exactly what it is that you have found.

Why, then, did Martyn Wilson write this book? Indeed, why have whole forests been cleared by gurus, shamans, yogis, monks, teachers, etc. — all writing books about Enlightenment? For something that can never be truly explained, people sure like to blather on about it endlessly.

Mr. Wilson explains his motivation for writing his book this way:

“I believe that I have been given a gift that has completely changed my life. I also believe that it would be a waste of this gift not to share what I have learned and experienced, not because I am on some spiritual mission to convert the entire population of earth, but to point out that there is another way of living, another choice.”

He also says:

“Whatever you think Enlightenment is, it is not … Enlightenment cannot be thought no matter how many books you read, how many seminars you attend, how many meditation workshops you take part in or how spiritual you think you are. Enlightenment can only be experienced and this is why it is so difficult to explain to others.”

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Martyn Wilson

It can’t be explained, can’t be done … but Mr. Wilson certainly makes a heroic effort in this slim volume. And you know what? He comes as close as anyone or book I have read to giving the reader an inkling of what Enlightenment might be, and how to at least start your journey toward getting it for yourself.

(Yikes! I’m already in trouble! If you think that you need to go on a “journey” to find Enlightenment, then you will never find it. There is no journey to take, and nothing to find!)

But let me struggle on.

Keep in mind that when writing about Enlightenment, both authors and guys like me who review their books are grappling within a situation pitted with paradoxes. You’re always saying something seemingly contradictory, such as , “You must seek something that can never be found.” Or, “There is no journey because you are always already there,” Or, “You can never arrive because there is nowhere to go.”

So if I say that Martyn Wilson has written an excellent book and that these pages are a good place to start on your search for Enlightenment, I am already veering off track and headed for the ditch.

If you think you have to “start a journey to Enlightenment” then you are already lost. Also, if it is anything that is “out there” — such as a book, seminar or some guru, then that is something that is “outside yourself” and will do you no good.

At the same time, I will dare to say: This is as good a book to read as any if you want to seek Enlightenment.

After all, Mr. Wilson’s started somewhere, albeit someplace unusual — an all-out effort to prove that there really is no such thing as Enlightenment!

It was his wife who was really into all this stuff. She was one of those people who was deeply involved in reading books on the subject, going to seminars, practicing meditations, and so on.

Wilson thought his wife’s pursuit was 100% preposterous. Thus, he became determined to do everything he could to prove that all this stuff was just a bunch of baloney — a loony pile of eastern-religious-mystical nonsense for modern-day hippies and delusional New Age flakes.

He did tons of research on the Internet, read books, and then started testing methods, such as meditation and other “techniques” to show that they did nothing for anyone. Indeed, he found meditation to be worthless in his own case.

But then Mr. Wilson stumbled upon a certain method that seemed so simple and ludicrous, he called it “laughable” — and yet he tried it anyway, and (laughable or not) kept at it for weeks and months on end.

And guess what? Martyn Wilson was stunned one day to find that he had become Enlightened!

I’m going to say no more because I don’t want to give too much away. I would encourage all readers to buy, discover and encounter this fine and delightful book for yourselves.

Just a couple of last points. Wilson drops a couple of delicious bombshells in these pages:

1. His comments on the subject of forgiveness may cause some people to have a brain aneurysm!

2. His opinion on the subject of non-duality is unique, bold and matter of fact!

Not to be missed! I like it when an author of a book about Enlightenment manages to break new ground. Martyn Wilson does it. This is one of the best books on the topic since the sublime LAZY MAN’S GUIDE TO ENLIGHTENMENT by THADDEUS GOLAS. If it’s not as profound as Shunryu Suzuki‘s masterpiece ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND, it packs a similar punch in a more “common-working-man” sort of way.

Go ahead, get the book, have a read — just don’t expect this to be your road map to Enlightenment. There is no road map.


Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Talking to the dead: Medium Suzanne Giesemann insists on real evidence

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This is a fascinating book because it is anchored by a story that seems almost too sensational to be true, yet the evidence would seem to indicate that it is true.

Author and professional medium Suzanne Giesemann also brings an added aura of credibility — her former career as a high-ranking U.S. Naval officer provides a sense of grounding – here seems to be a no-nonsense person we can trust to be level-headed, honest and highly responsible.

Before taking on the life of a professional speaker-to-the-dead, Giesemann spent 20-years in military service, retiring with the rank of Commander. She served at the highest levels; she was Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Anyone not knowing her background, and upon reading this book, might peg her as among the most airy-fairy of New Agers. This book, Wolf’s Message, has it all – all the (seeming) New Age fluff it can muster, and more.

There’s channeling of the dead, communication with advanced collective beings, angels, psychic phenomena, trance states – and so many of the common accouterments of New Agers – power crystals, dream catchers, runes for casting, angelic clouds, mandalas, sacred geometry, Hemi-Sync CDs – it’s almost as if the author used went into one of those New Age trinket shops in a place like Sedona, Arizona, and bought `one of each,’ then worked them all into her narrative.

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Suzanne Giesemann

But the real foundation of this book is the astounding details surrounding the death of a young Plymouth, Massachusetts, man by the name of Mike Pasakarnis, who went by the nickname “Wolf.” He was struck dead by a freak lightning bolt.

Remarkably, this is the same way the step-daughter of the author died. Giesemann’s step-daughter was a sergeant in the U.S. Marines at the time. But that’s just one of the eye-popping confluence in this story.

The details of Wolf’s death, his prediction of his own death, the seemingly incontrovertible evidence of that, his after-death communication – it will all blow your mind.

I don’t want to give away too many details and ruin this read for anyone, but the circumstances of Wolf’s death, and Giesemann’s subsequent afterdeath communications with him, are intriguing, to say the least.

Note that Giesemann calls herself an “evidential medium.” That means she’s all about getting the hard facts – solid, undeniable proof that the voices she hears in her psychic head must be and truly are the spirit of the dearly departed.

It is important to note that this book goes well beyond the scope of merely communicating with a deceased person and passing on that information to his grieving parents – Giesemann uses the overall scenario as a platform to deliver up much wider, deeper and more penetrating spiritual lesson for her readers.

If you ask me, her prose is a bit over-the-top. Her style comes off as super-sticky-sugary New Agey schlock. Here enthusiasm is almost tiring – practically on every other page Giesemann reports being “stunned!” “astounded!” “awestruck!” “weeping with gratitude!” “blown away!” “blissful!” – the superlatives just keep gushing forth, as if a dam holding back a lake of Holy Water has breached.

But you know what? That’s okay. Suzanne Giesemann is clearly all heart. She’s a sincere-to-the-bone explorer of transcendent realms. She is driven to bring us a message of unstoppable, monumental cosmic hope. Why hold back?

I encourage everyone to get this book and be prepared to be “awestruck!”

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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