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Earl Hazell (New York)

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Blood Rites: Origins and the History of the Passions of War
Blood Rites: Origins and the History of the Passions of War
by Barbara Ehrenreich
Edition: Paperback

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 12 Nov 2002
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If we can accept the fact that the latest evolutionary stage of war has been completed--from multi-national/mechanical (1914 to 1945) to Cold/covert/technological (1946 to 1989), to terrorist/"asymmetrical" (today, in the 21st century)--we can see that this book easily surpasses anything written in the last decade for the title of Most Important. More than the ocean of tomes recently produced on the psychology of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban (and the Middle East as a whole), or those depicting the consequences of biological and chemical weaponry on American soil, Barbara Ehrenreich has, with this book, surpassed the innovative, seminal and profoundly contraversial scholarship of anthropology, psychology and political science of the past thirty years.
BLOOD RITES: ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF THE PASSIONS OF WAR is one of the greatest, most frightfully illuminating books I've ever read. In the context of unified-field, "theory of everything" books on culture and the human psyche--the holistic/spherical direction into which Western consciousness seems to be finally heading--this book ranks with work like the 19th century Godfrey Higgins' ANACALYPSIS, scientific mythographer Alan Alford's WHEN THE GODS CAME DOWN, Camile Paglia's SEXUAL PERSONAE, linguist Kuhn's THEORY OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS and CHANGES OF MIND by philsopher/psychologist Dr. Jenny Wade. I believed few works in this new discpline of evolutionary psychology/anthropology could ever come close to the impact of THE IMPERIAL ANIMAL by Tiger and Fox. Ehrenreich, however, with BLOOD RITES, via encapsulating all of their discoveries within an even newer and more all-encompassing paradigm, surpasses it with a quantum leap.
Ehrenreich's idea is that the primal fear of predation of Paleolithic man has driven much of what we know as the genesis of culture, from religion to war. Early man's very real fear of being eaten alive in the jungle by much physically stronger animals, back when early human kind/hominids didn't leave willingly but was forced out of the trees by climatic changes in the Savannahs of central Africa--is the generative force behind the primal rituals of the blood. These rituals--blood rites--symbolize the eventual supremacy over the man-eating animals via man learning to hunt even better, and subsequently successfully fight for their survival as a species. In other words, they symbolize the ultimate transformation of the jungle: prey to predator. These rituals, with their corresponding symbol meaning, are the DNA of culture itself.
The reenactment of this rite in every human community--the transformational ritual that told the story of mankind's most humble and frightened beginnings--in turn created much of society as it exists even today; from the characteristics of ancient culture's many gods and the corresponding behavioral architecture of ancient religions...to the shape and purpose of modern day war.
How Ehrenreich proves her point will change the way you look at everything, including many other historically intellectuals and the actual validity of their ideas, regardless of how foundational to our culture they may seem. Particularly because so many influential thinkers and philosophers of the past three centuries have consciously and unconsciously based their theories of human existence on a now defunct paradigm: the unvanquished hunter-gatherer man of Neolithic times as the beginning of human civilization and thought. Ehrenreich reveals this foundational idea to be a myth of its own. *That alone*, when contemplating its implications, will change the way you look at literally everything--especially the true horror that is war.
This is a book to be experienced, moreso than simply read. Those whose hearts question obvious things, like why the irrationality of war continuously re-demands supremacy over our lives, will have many questions answered by this work. But for those whose questions go deeper...deeper into the intellectual architecture of Western man and its place in the human psyche...for those who understand, who feel, but lack the words to explain the feeling of seeing an ignored pink polka-dotted elephant on the coffee table of every celebrated thinker of the past--from Descartes to Hobbes to Rouseau to Darwin to Nietzsche to Freud to feminist Susan Faludi...for those who question it all, but even the fairly current answers to so much of why culture is what it is only yields more questions, this book will change you in ways that could not be predicted. It is books like these for which Kuhn's term *paradigm shift* was created.
And instead of like a college textbook, its 250-odd pages read like a novel. She is a brilliant intellectual and masterful storyteller herself, rolled into one.
The influence this book will have on everything from child psychology to international politics to art will assert itself for many generations to come. In these times (it was first reviewed by the New York Times four years before the September 11th Tragedy), every American--every literate person--should read it.


Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin History)
Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin History)
by Edward W. Said
Edition: Paperback

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important look at the West through how we look at the East, 12 Nov 2002
Public opinion has gone in and out like the tides on Said's book since I first read it five odd years ago. It has been said that the primal characteristic of a truly enlightened mind is its ability to entertain two seemingly contradictory ideas at the same time; in that context I find it odd that people can be so proud of their total discrediting of Said's work in favor of the preeminent and(seemingly) diametrically opposed Bernard Lewis. It is obvious to me that both men have something provocative to teach us Europe and America's relationship with the Middle East (as it has been over the centuries and is reflected in culture and scholarship), and both need to be heard in that context.
It is not often that a brilliantly, exhaustively researched book on an alternatingly controversial and trivialized subject can engender an emotional response of the magnitude with which this work does--which usually means that it is worth reading. In documenting the psychological architecture of the western mind and its perspective on the East--or the "Orient", he deconstructs it. The idea that it exists deconstructs it by nature; before reading this book you will swear that most of what we know of the Arabian East is the absolute truth, without even being aware that it's been either romanticized into impotence or isn't much of anything complimentary, let alone influential.
I rate ORIENTALISM, for its effect on our psyche as Americans alone (regardless of race or assumed political leanings), as one of the most important books written in the last decades of the 20th century. The world looks the way it does not because of natural law, like the reasons why the Sahara has become a desert--or at least not by the natural laws we have imagined. Edward Said, regardless of the possibility of his biases coming through his scholarship, regardless of the political realities he left out of his thesis, shows this in remarkable fashion to people-- like myself--who never considered this fact's existence (let alone its influence on my perceptions of the Middle East in all their forms).
Be mature enough to accept that it is not the only educated opinion or set of facts about our complex world, and this book will be a great read and teach a great deal.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2010 11:11 AM BST


Miles: The Autobiography
Miles: The Autobiography
by Miles Davis
Edition: Paperback

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stellar, honest...musical, 12 Nov 2002
Miles Davis, with all his faults, flaws and laughable quirks, was still one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century. It takes a book like this where he leaves no stone unturned to make clear the debt we all owe him and his contemporaries, as well as the restless spirit that lead him beyond what he helped to establish as modern jazz. In many ways he shows himself to be, ironically, the archetypal and sterotypical artist simultaneously. Yet his telling of the profound friendships he had with Max Roach and Coltrane, his deep awe and respect but dispassionate eye for the genius and addictions of Charlie Parker, the loves of his life- and what he put them through, and his brutal, courageous hoonesty in general, gives us a gift of his haunting humanity.
But above all, this about the music. His own telling of his style, the true creators of the form in total and the actual environment where it was produced, and how he created so many styles of his own is enough to make this book worth having.
You will never find another human being who can make curse words sound so beautiful!
If you love jazz, or are a jazz musician, this book will remind you why. And why you love Miles. Everybody does.


Changes of Mind: A Holonomic Theory of the Evolution of Consciousness (S U N Y Series in the Philosophy of Psychology)
Changes of Mind: A Holonomic Theory of the Evolution of Consciousness (S U N Y Series in the Philosophy of Psychology)
by Jenny Wade
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.07

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The great paradigm shift is here, 12 Nov 2002
To say this monumental book changed my life would be to use the most overused term in today's New Age pop-psychological world (I know because I've used it myself a few times describing other books!). But there is no other way to describe the power of what Dr. Jenny Wade has to say and the intellectual argument she makes- with the erudition of a scientist, and the humility of a mystic.
CHANGES OF MIND is the thinking man and woman's CELESTINE PROPHECY. She not only avoids backing down from the challenge of embracing previously accepted conventional psychoanalytical theory, religious philosophy and the scientific method. She embraces and redeems them all, as well as the myth and mysticism of practically every age and religion, by puttting them in what can only seem to be their proper intellectual/spiritual perspective. The model for charting and understanding the levels of consciousness of the human being- animal and spirit/mind- that she proposes becomes so immediately all encompassing that it can be considered a unified field theory for the human experience unlike anything that has been rendered before in Western Society.
Many writers, with their amazing intellect and insight, can give honor to their disciplines as they encompass enough of human endeavor and history into their perspective to make you become a intellectual roomate in the apartment of their minds whenever you look at the world afterwards. Camille Paglia and Nancy Friday, with their Freudian/Nietzschean, Anthropological/Psychological perspectives; Giorgio de Santillana (HAMLET'S MILL), with his profound and innovative (though not new) look at ancient myth in the context of astronomical science, immediately come to mind. Some, like the genius astrophyiscist Stephen Hawking, open you up to a world you otherwise would not have ever known.
CHANGES OF MIND has managed, for me, to create a paradigm of thought that encompasses every other, as if the intellectual house of every other thinker over the past three or four millenia around the world has been layed out to be easily visited and understood in the Urban Planning City-structure of Dr. Jenny Wade's mind. Gnostic Christianity, Freud, Piaget, Tibetan Mysticism, Sociology, Possibility thinkers, Success-oriented philosophies, New-age Spiritualism, Newtonian Physics, Quantum mechanics, psychic powers, dysfunctional families and codependency, Jung, history, the nature of time and space, reincarnation, pre-natal memories, English literature, sex, Buddhism, Christian Fundamentalism, Jesus Christ... there is little if anything in the human world that cannot be better understood and completely encapsulized by her vision of Transpersonal Psychology and the actual full stages of human development she clearly, lucidly and powerfully describes.
There are an extraordinarily few number of books that I have read that have touched me so profoundly, creating a paradigm shift in my view of people, myself and the world,while simultaneously reaffirming my most treasured pre-verbal intuitions- with science, not poetry. She does, however, make the poetry of all the world, from John Donne ("Death too, shall die") to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to the New Testament, come alive in ways I never expected, and never would have guessed.
I cannot recommend this book to the fascinated and the skeptical alike enough.


When the Gods Came Down: The Catastrophic Roots of Religion Revealed
When the Gods Came Down: The Catastrophic Roots of Religion Revealed
by Alan F. Alford
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 12 Nov 2002
Alan Alford has created an intellectual paradigm shift of such domino falling proportions that it will probably take a decade at the absolute least before WHEN THE GODS CAME DOWN becomes recognized or ignored for the incredible service to world culture it is. We can read all of the New Age, New Perspective Archaeology, Popular Psychology and much of the scientific innovative literature so popular today in one or more of three contexts: the socio-economic (regarding cultural trends and publishing houses), the cultural psychological reaction to technology and the Information Society, and one powerful other. That third one is simple, and is the unifying belief, stated or unconscious, of every author: regardless of the specific message of the individual book, we are witnessing the dawning of a future world where all our existential questions of spirituality, communication and those of the multi-discplinary sciences meld into one unified linguistical system of an answer. Alan Alford reveals, perhaps unlike anyone since the 1830's supreme mindblower ANACALYPSIS by Godfrey Higgins, the psychological, cultural, anthropological, intellectual, scientific and spiritual reasons for the optimism and enthusiasm such an idea inevitably produces in the human heart. He reveals that that grand idea, generating such spiritual hopes for the future, is the mental architecture and language upon which the past 6000-plus years of human civilization is already based.
In THE PHOENIX SOLUTION, Alford took a radical approach to the decoding of Egyptian religion and mythology to reveal its scientific underpinnings unlike literally anyone before him. He said in THE PHOENIX SOLUTION that the foundation of Egyptological thought and religion lay in their scientific theory of the evolutionary growth process of our entire solar system. Much of the foundational myths, Gods and Goddesses, he showed, symbolize the theorized outer planets of eons past, and their process of raining meteoric bits of proto-life onto our Earth; effectively "seeding" our planet with the beginnings of new life unlike ever before. This foundational universe-view, not just world view, generated the entire religious philosophy, scientific study, cultural practices and art of the culture for more than three thousand years. It was shared only amongst the highest initiates of the religious sub-culture/ruling elite.
WHEN THE GODS CAME DOWN is Alan Alford's masterpiece. He shows in the most remarkable scientific, archaeological and literary fashion how this foundational concept of the evolution of our entire solar system is the generating principle behind not just Egyptian religion but ALL ancient myth and religion; from that of Sumer to Babylon to Memphis to Athens to Jerusalem . He then goes to show how the great teachers of every age, like Socrates, Plato, and Jesus, were lauded as such because they knew, mastered and shared this foundational concept of truth in the context of its cultural, linguistic and psycho-mythic implications--though they still did it in such a way that only the most knowledgeable and initiated would fully appreciate it. In short, Alford reveals the one sublime, ancient religion UNDERNEATH the many modern world religions as we have come to know them, in their "dumbed down" form; from Christian fundamentalism to Ancient Astronaut/Extraterrestrial fundamentalism. In so doing, he reaffirms the majesty and human truth within them all. He also simultaneously obliterates the assumed relevance of a divisive, purely literal/fundamentalist interpretation of ANY religion's literature, theology or perspectives.
My test for the far reaching influence and power of any theorist--particularly of the wannabe revolutionary kind--is three-fold. One, their theory must be completely plausible; i.e. not needing simple revolt from detractors and complimentary but poorly explained aspects of ITSELF to proclaim and rationalize its essential relevance. Two, it must have the ability to completely encapsulate the foundational principles, concepts and findings of the other competitive theories as a part of its own. And third, perhaps most important of all, it has to excite me. There may be things my mind will not be strong enough, educated enough, mutil-lingual enough or quick enough to pick up, but you cannot fool my heart.
WHEN THE GODS CAME DOWN does this on all counts.
In light of everything written from Bauval, Hancock, and West, to deSantillana, von Dechend and Thompkins, to Martin Bernal, to Michael Rice, straight back to Breasted and Budge, Massey and deLubicz, duPuis and Frankfort, and all of the French and German schools of Egypt-and Assyriology, spiritual and academic... Alford has seemingly united their perspectives under one foundational principle that is seemingly the key to understanding all of the ancient---and most of the modern--intellectual and spiritual world.
This book answers more questions than it raises. Try reading it, and looking at anything regarding culture, religion, the spirit and scientific news the same. I cannot recommend it enough.


The Phoenix Solution: Secrets of a Lost Civilisation
The Phoenix Solution: Secrets of a Lost Civilisation
by Alan F Alford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.74

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An inventive, fascinating reappraisal of ancient knowledge, 13 Jan 2000
I was lucky enough to have tuned this work in while on business in the UK from the States, where I live. Quite possibly I was also lucky enough to not have read his other book, the partial refutation of which has seemed to throw many for a loop. Coming as someone from an Egyptological and artistic/ethnological background who knows many of the world renowned Egyptologists he quotes personally, I can honestly say, as Michael Rice does in his preface, that this is one of the most important new perspective Egyptological works written in at least thirty years. It is capable of creating its own genre of study and enlightenment across several disciplines. It is fairly easy to write some New Age mythological mind candy that declares all kinds of wild things to be a secret reality. It isn't often that a work comes along that challenges the erudition of the status quo with a mind blowingly believable unorthodox thesis, partly derived thanks to the plethora of scholarly material ignored by the establishment for more than a century for just such a reason. This is the kind of book that makes waves; the kind of waves that some future book will capitalize on and ride like a surfer while this one is unsuccessfully trashed or frightfully ignored; making the world believe the truth herein has just been discovered, when it will be only in the future that it in actuality could be digested by the masses. I only hope Alford is the one to write that one also. It is hard in retrospect, given how hard it is to shock us these days in the now 21st Century, to compare Alford to Galileo and Darwin. Yet given what I know of many of his research materials, sources and approach- and again, the erudition of his varied references, along with his phenomenal ideas- it is hard not to.
Read it with an open mind, and learn something incredible- even if in the end, you don't agree with the plausibility of the final theory. That is the hallmark of a seminal work...as this is. This work will change your and everyone's understanding of many, many things...give it time.


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