Question from Royal Flora about books
Dear Mr. longhairdon'tcare, i appreciate your insight.
Okay, before i lubricate to much honey around your mouth my question, what do you read and what do you recommend everyone should read?
So what are your favourites, your best books?
It don't matter if its fiction like the metamorphosis or it's the "second world war" by Churchill.
Ok. Well. First, I have no training or diet books to recommend. I recommend just reading blogs and websites for that information.
Also, I don't read fiction. Fiction is fine and all but I don't read it. Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 was one of the few fiction books I've actually read. It totally kicked ass.
All of my reading is driven by key words and purposes and I prefer philosophical handling of the topics. For example. I'm interested in learning about what Boredom really is, what it means, the implications of it. So I look for a philosophy book on Boredom.
Lars Svendsen also wrote a great book on Work and on Fear ... I recommend Lars's book Work for all college students pondering their life after college. Okay, another example of key word based philosophy book selection was Distraction by Damon Young.
I read it because I had a Facebook addiction at one point in my life and needed help. It cured me of that. Also, Alain Botton. Check out his book on Status Anxiety it is incredible.
Another author who seems to write almost exclusively key word based philosophy books is Osho. I've only read two of his books, Intimacy and Being in Love, which really did a lot to improve my relationship.
Here's an example of something in his book Being in Love that, to me, was something I never had even thought of:
"If you want to become a human being and not a machine, get rid of your parents. And you will have to be watchful. It is hard work, arduous work; you cannot do it instantly. You will have to be very careful in your behavior. Watch and see when your mother is there, functioning through you—stop that, move away from it. Do something absolutely new that your mother could not even have imagined. For example, your boyfriend is looking at some other woman with great appreciation in his eyes. Now, watch what you are doing. Are you doing the same as your mother would have done when your father looked at another woman appreciatively? If you do that, you will never know what love is, you will simply be repeating a story. It will be the same act being played by different actors, that’s all; the same rotten act being repeated again and again and again. Don’t be an imitator, get out of it. Do something new. Do something that your mother could not have conceived of. Do something new that your father could not have conceived of. This newness has to be brought to your being, then your love will start flowing. So the first essential is getting rid of your parents. The second essential is this: People think that they can love only when they find a worthy partner—nonsense! You will never find one. (around Page 11 and 12)"
How many of you readers out there are living in your parent's house? How many of the decisions do you make on a daily basis are influenced by your parent's expectations or what you assume are their expectations? Did you ever think that maybe that was holding you back in your romantic relationships?
Montaigne is another favorite of mine. Interesting, with that 1600s wording, but not stupidly hard to read.
Each essay is about a 5-25 minute read and the topic is made very clear so you can read exactly what you want to read about and skip around. Montaigne has an aphoristic writing style (meaning, almost everything he writes reads like one of those quotes you see on quotes websites) and a great sense of humor. The best part of Montaigne is how incredible his understanding of himself was.
Since I cannot hold my reader's attention by my weight, it is not a bad thing if I manage to do so by my muddle... And there are humours so made that they despise anything which they can understand and which will rate me more highly when they do not know what I mean. They will infer the depth of my meaning from its obscurity - a quality which (to speak seriously now) I hate most strongly; I would avoid it if there were a way of avoiding myself...
Now that's #realtalk ... Montaigne was real. It was astounding how well he knew himself and how he accepted it. Through and through. A philosopher from the 1600s who philosophized about farts and sex positions along with all the usual crap like morality and truth or whatever.
Anyway, similarly, as Montaigne hates the tendency of certain people to infer meaning from obscurity and overcomplicated metaphysical gobbleduck and writers who do it intentionally, I hate people who recommend stupidly hard books to come off as intelligent. And I hated the tendency in myself I used to have to strive to read stupidly hard books just to say I read them (yes I went through that phase... dick waving contest immaturity) A book I tried reading just to say I read it and brag about, that pissed me off like none other was Being and Nothingness by Sartre.
I read the first 100 pages of that fucker, it took me 3 weeks to do that, underlining and taking notes and really trying to grasp what he was saying before I finally realized I was getting absolutely no results from killing myself trying to understand it. Here are the final two parts I underlined before I gave up.
Everything happens as if the Present were a perpetual hole in being - immediately filled up and perpetually reborn - as if the Present were a perpetual flight away from the snare of the "in-itself" which threatens it until that final victory of the in-itself which will drag it into a past which is no longer the past of any For-itself. It is death which is this victory, for death is the final arrest of Temporality by the making-past of the whole system or, if you prefer, by the recapture of human Totality by the In-itself.
Keep reading it gets better, you'll understand it in just a second I promise.
This totality which runs after itself and refuses itself at the same time, which can find in itself no limit to its surpassing because it is its own surpassing and because it surpasses itself toward itself, can under no circumstances exist within the limits of an instant. There is never an instant at which we can assert that the for-itself is, precisely because the for-itself never is. Temporality, on the contrary, temporalizes itself entirely as the refusal of the instant.
Sorry guys I'm just too stupid to understand Sartre's mega dosed amphetamine, nicotine and alcohol induced mental gymnastics in Being and Nothingness. Attempting to read Sartre's Being and Nothingness was about as exciting, fun and useful for me as trying to max out on a deadlift with twice my current max. Try that yourself, tell me how you feel. You know it's absurd, why would you ever try it? You wouldn't! But do it, try it anyway, and when you do you will understand how absurd I felt as I continued turning pages in Sartre's Being and Nothingness just to be able to brag to people that I read it. I wasn't ready for it, and never will be ready. And I do not give a fuck, and you know why? Because Sartre didn't give a fuck himself! He didn't give a fuck whether people understood him or not. Maybe if Sartre gave a fuck about that, his philosophy would spell itself out? Okay let's try something here.
This totality which runs after itself and refuses itself at the same time, which can find in itself no fucking limit to its surpassing because it is its own surpassing and because it surpasses its fucking self toward itself, can under no fucking circumstances exist within the limits of a fucking instant. There is never an instant at which we can assert that the for-itself is, precisely because the for-itself never fucking is. Temporality, on the contrary, temporalizes itself entirely as the refusal of the fucking instant.
Nope. My head is still fucked from reading that. Sartre was a paradox in that he was extremely careful with the system of his works and choice of his words, while careless and clueless that his readers didn't understand any fucking sentence he wrote.
I read philosophy to broaden my understanding, troubleshoot my thoughts and develop my attitude. But what I finally realized from trying to read Sartre's incredibly sterile and cryptic philosophy text, was how much I really, really, really appreciated a philosopher I could fucking read. I recommend you read something you can actually read. So, if you want to read a philosopher who writes things you can actually read... who writes in a more conversational tone, and with passion, who uses exclamation marks almost every sentence, who bashes everyone and everything excessively and unabashedly, who has an awesome sense of humor about himself and everything and seems to have way, way too much fun while he writes, read Nietzsche.
Nietzsche is my favorite writer of all time. He was the most obsessed person who ever lived on this planet, in the good connotation of that word. He is my #1. My main man. I read him for years and it did nothing but change my life, my outlook, my sensitivities for the better. When I read Nietzsche, I get ideas, I get inspired, I get awesome and I get moving. Reading Nietzsche makes me want to do "life" and enjoy everything about it, the good and the bad. Nietzsche has been a strong contributor to my good humor and happy demeanor. Seeing how he makes light of everything, how he laughs at all the philosophy time immemorial while making sense somehow of the fact that none of it really makes sense anyway is a magical experience.
So is Nietzsche hard? Reading him is not hard, no. Understanding him correctly can be very hard though. But what makes Nietzsche interesting is you don't have to understand him to benefit from his writings. How is this possible? Because when you read him, you're going to read yourself and own situation in his writings very strongly. And you will benefit from thinking about it in ways you never ever considered. For example, you can read his works in any context: tricking, training, relationships, wealth, social media, whatever you want, whatever you think about, and it will enhance your thinking of it. It's like game genie for your thoughts.
He knew his readers read him this way, he knew they were cheating, and he didn't really like this too much. But it doesn't matter what he thinks because he's dead, and I can tell you myself that even if you don't really understand what the fuck he really meant, you can still find him super enjoyable and get a ton out of what you're reading even while you're cheating.
So what book to start with? Since Nietzsche wrote in German, make sure what you read is a Walter Kaufmann translation if you can't read German, his read the best. The Gay Science is a good one to start with, pick it up and skip around. Ecce Homo, and The Will to Power are my other favorites. Beyond Good and Evil is typically considered his beginner book but I didn't find that one spoke to me quite like the former books I mentioned. I strongly suggest a paperback. I've since tried reading him again in digital format and it's impossible.
So. How to read him? Remember how I mentioned that I like key word driven reading? Well, my recommended way to read Nietzsche is backwards. Start with the index. Find a key word and read every instance of it in a book, connect those messages. When you find something you really like, go back to where you started reading and go back a few pages. Remember what I said: backwards.
So, to those people who will say you have to read from start to finish to understand, that's bullshit. There is no need to read start to finish, jumping around like a motivated lunatic keyword to keyword, cross referencing passages throughout his books like a psycho and treating it like a coloring book with all my pens has provided me TREMENDOUS and PROFOUND value to my life. And I understand him just fine but I can tell you that's not what's important. You don't need to understand him. What's important is beginning to see how he thinks and how he treats topics he discusses. It's more important to see and learn the way he thinks than what he thinks or what he actually meant. So enjoy skipping and skimming around reading handfuls of his aphorisms at a time applying them to your own situations and problems, and see if he begins to rub off on you like he did me.
So, if you pick up a Nietzsche book tomorrow at the store and thumb through it and decide "man, Juji is really fucked up in the head, this isn't as good as he said it was." or if you feel like how I felt when I read Sartre, that's okay! Just put it back and go check out the Where's Waldo books. Because everyone loves those things. I've had one next to my toilet since I moved into my apartment a year ago and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. I skip around non-stop time period to time period, stone age to space age, always finding new shit to explore.
Jujimufu, try Albert Camus!! Gave me so much more than Sartre, seems like complete opposite, much deeper into life itself.
You´re crazy, I like your attitude so much, Happy New Year from Czech Republic!
Camus is definitely ok! Thanks for reading!
Hey Juji, thanks for the article.
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I once had to read Being & Nothingness for an essay I had to write on Beckett’s Godot; in spite of knowingly misquoting him (taking passages from the text and changing their inference) – my tutors all gave me top marks. I’m quite certain they were as lost as me when it came to Sartre.