image courtesy shutterstock / Stu Porter
Additional Books mentioned in post:
- Version 1.0 of my 2013 Self-Improvement Program: 7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal
- Version 1.5, published a month later after my 29th birthday: The Plan So I Don’t Waste the Last Year of My 20s
Today I am joining Charlie Martin and Sarah Hoyt in attempting a 13 Weeks Blogging Self-Improvement Program. I invite others to join me and assist in the continued development of what we should call The Charlie Martin 13 Weeks Method. (Has a nice alliterative ring to it, methinks.) Back in February Charlie laid out his approach:
By accident, however, I’d noticed a process, or pattern.
- Decide there’s something you want to change.
- Find ways to measure your progress.
- Decide on some small unthreatening things you can do that should affect those measures.
- Track the results for 13 weeks and see what happens. It helps to pick appropriate tools and techniques for that tracking, but something as simple as a Seinfeld calendar, where you just draw an X on a calendar for every day you do something can be very powerful.
So here’s my 1-2-3-4 for The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen:
1. The problem that I’d like to change is the one that Sarah identified in her PJ Lifestyle article yesterday: being buried in books for research. Over the past year I’ve tried to figure out how to organize the various subjects that I want to study in order to best make sense of them and find the connections across the disciplines. I want to read more books and do a better job of staying organized with the ideas and research that I find in them for my future writing and editing projects. I want to continue to explore connections across disciplines, reading both novels and a wide variety of nonfiction, both very serious philosophy and absurd satire.
2. I will continue to share the most interesting nuggets of my research in one daily PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf post that features an excerpt. Additional snapshots from my research will appear at my Instagram and Twitter accounts which can be followed here and here.
3. I will only create seven piles of books, one for each day, and then base each day’s reading on the titles from that pile. I won’t have to think about which books I’ll read each day. I’ll just draw from each pile. Each day will be based on 1-3 authors and 1-4 related subjects that I want to juxtapose together. This will not be a hard rule that I can only read from that day’s pile. If a book on another subject has caught my enthusiasm then I can still read it after dong the day’s necessary reading.
But I need to find at least two excerpts worth Instagramming and at least one of them should appear as a PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf selection to inspire debate and discussion. (That’s the purpose of those posts — for the regular readers who have complained, asking why I don’t take a few paragraphs to spell out my opinion of each excerpt offered. They appear because I am more interested in hearing reader feedback on them than pontificating my own ideas.) These seven piles will then flow into the six categories that I created in my original Counterculture Conservative book list from back in October. The seventh (and last) category I plan to add will be based on my list of the The 15 Best Books for Understanding Barack Obama’s Mysterious Political Theology. (This will be the basis for Friday’s systematic exploration of evil ideas.)
4. I will create a calendar on a page of my journal broken up into 13 weeks and at the beginning of each day I will notate which page I am on in the books that I am reading associated with that day. I will photograph this calendar and blog about it each week, noting and analyzing my results on Tuesdays (the PJ Lifestyle day focused on writing, media, and technology). At the end of the 13 weeks I will see the progress I made on each author and subject. Then I will decide how to adjust each day’s reading focus, maybe taking a break from an author for a bit or adding another writer whose ideas are worth juxtaposing with the other thinkers of the day.
So what will the reading subjects be for the seven days of this “first season,” as Charlie calls it, of the The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen? I’m doubling down on the authors and subjects of previous self-improvement plans, but focusing some plans and expanding others. As always, your recommendations for additional books and authors that I need to read are sincerely appreciated. Please leave suggestions in the comments or email me.
And publishers, authors and publicists: any and all paperback/hardback books received by mail will be photographed and blogged about. (And e-books that are especially interesting may also be featured. But actual books are of course more photogenic.)
In Program or Be Programmed, his compelling short guide to seizing control of your life back from the seductive embrace of technology, Douglas Rushkoff describes the oddly detached lifestyle of a young trendsetter named Gina who has an “always on” relationship to her social media. She hops from one hip party to another, but is never truly present:
Instead of turning the phone off and enjoying herself, however, she turns her phone around, activates the camera, and proceeds to take pictures of herself and her friends – instantly uploading them to her Facebook page for the world to see . . .
She relates to her friends through the network, while practically ignoring whomever she is with at the moment. She relates to the places and people she is actually with only insofar as they are suitable for transmission to others in remote locations. The most social girl in her class doesn’t really socialize in the real world at all. [Emphasis added]
In this era of easy worldwide connectedness, our youth are suffering an unprecedented degree of emotional detachment, depression and loneliness. “The more connected we become, the lonelier we are,” argues Atlantic writer Stephen Marche in “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” MIT’s Sherry Turkle, in her book Alone Together, concurs that our relentless online connection ironically leads to alienation and solitude. Marche nails it: “A connection is not the same thing as a bond.”
Andy Braner, author of the new book Alone: Finding Connection in a Lonely World, views the social media sites themselves as the biggest cause of loneliness among young people today. “We’ve created this illusion of friendship with a click and a ‘like,’ especially in this young generation of students who don’t know life without social media,” he says. These kids have grown up barely experiencing friendship without an online component, and that element actually detracts from rather than supplements their real human interaction. “It’s hard to know how to act around people now,” says Phil Gibson, a sophomore at University of San Francisco, “because the only thing kids know is how to act on Facebook.”
Related at PJ Media:
I guess it’s to be expected – that the cool grew up to be square. Hell, even evangelicals are hipper than liberals now. (I used the word Hell deliberately, even though it isn’t cool.)
Now here’s the thing: Liberals are beginning to realize they’re not hip anymore. They won’t admit it, but they do. Witness Obama’s behavior with the press. He’s sweating like Nixon – and that’s definitely not hip. (On second thought, Nixon was finally hipper than Obama.)
And Jay Carney? Would you call him hip? And what about Biden? Has there ever been a soul so square?
What makes modern liberalism the mess that it is today is that it is mainly composed of people who desperately wanted to be cool in high school – wanted to be Abbie Hoffman or Eldridge Cleaver – but never were. Their longing – this need to be Abbie – has clouded their thinking and their ability to perceive reality, placing us all in a mess along with them.
Meanwhile, Bob Dylan became a conservative.
– PJ Media CEO Roger L. Simon, June 19, 2012
“He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will, too. I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we’ve gotta … name this condition that he’s going through… I think it’s called Romnesia,”
– President Barack Obama, October 19, 2012
Of course we’re down to the final months of the president’s term, as presidents…
…as President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room with everyone in white tie and refinery, you have to wonder what he’s thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute.
And by the way in — in the spirit of Sesame Street, the president’s remarks tonight are brought to you but the letter ‘O’ and the number $16 trillion.
– GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, October 18, 2012
Previously at PJ Lifestyle we’ve discussed the phenomenon of the “crunchy conservative,” the individual who embraces politics and values commonly associated with “the Right” while living a more natural, “hippie” lifestyle stereotyped as a monopoly of those on “the Left.”
But libertarians who prefer raw milk and organic food aren’t the only oddballs smashing the stereotype of what a “Bitter Clinger” actually looks like. Here are three more political-cultural hybrids:
Someone with classical liberal politics and outside-the-mainstream art tastes, lifestyle choices, diet, fashion sensibilities, sexual preferences, or religious beliefs. Often times this mindset comes as a result of a political shift to the Right later in life.
Archetypal example: New Media troublemaker and publisher, the late Andrew Breitbart (whose memoir appears second on the list.)
Tea Party Occultist
One who identifies with both the founding fathers’ Enlightenment politics and Masonic spiritual values — and perceives the relationship between the two. Religious Liberty requires a government based in Political Liberty and a military to defend it from barbarian idolaters who would take away both. Alternative definition: one who identifies with both the “Right-Wing” Tea Party movement and the Right-Hand path of the Western Mystery Tradition, adequately defined here by Wikipedia:
The Right-Hand Path is commonly thought to refer to magical or religious groups which adhere to a certain set of characteristics:
(See the rest of the Wikipedia entry for a list of various religions and mystical groups characterized as Right-Hand.) Even within the magical world those on “the Right” cherish the Rule of Law, while those on “the Left” embrace anarchy.
Archetypal example: James Wasserman, author, book designer, and a “founding father” of the modern revivals of the mystical secret society the Ordo Templi Orientis and its religion Thelema. (Wasserman’s new memoir begins the list and four more of his books also appear.)
One who understands the magical abilities of the free market to create value, wealth, and prosperity out of nothing but hard work, great ideas, and good luck. In free societies you really can wave your wand and turn lead into gold. All wealth begins when the entrepreneurs who will someday create it first dream and then put pen to paper to lay out their plan. Writing creates wealth. The ridiculous level of comfort in our society today — our government can afford to pay for the luxury of a cell phone for “poor” people — could happen because hundreds of years ago men wrote that the pursuit of happiness was an innate right.
Archetypal Example: Walt Disney. What began as imaginations in his head and sketches of a mouse would one day become a billion dollar multimedia empire with DisneyLand — our Mecca — as the permanent celebratory reminder of how the imagination can manifest mental and spiritual wealth into the material world.
One can note that these categories each correlate with one of the three values of the American Trinity identified and defined by Dennis Prager in his book Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. Counterculture conservatives embody Liberty, Tea Party Occultists emphasize In God We Trust, and the Capitalist Wizards live E. Pluribus Unum in both theory and practice.
These three categories also have their natural opponents, of whom more will be said later in the list when appropriate:
- Counterculture Conservatives Vs Cultural Marxists.
- Tea Party Occultists Vs Nazi Mystics.
- Capitalist Wizards Vs Corporatist Sorcerers.
My intent with this list is to compile an annotated bibliography of sorts — a collection of books on a variety of subjects and genres that when put side by side can manifest fresh connections and new ways of looking at the world so we as individuals can solve our problems and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
Future editions will include additional categories and authors, as well as expanded entries for the books and authors already included. (Please leave suggestions of who should appear in future updates. And if you leave an especially strong comment then I might include it in the next edition.) This first list comprises only a bare bones beginning for defining these three emerging traditions. Perhaps 100 more titles await in my mind for potential inclusion and with input from PJ Lifestyle’s readers that number can grow.
Here are the various sections of the list for your browsing convenience so you can jump to the subjects or authors who are of most interest. However, I’ve still written this extended article (really more of a free e-book before the election) with the traditional intent that it should make the most sense read beginning to end… that is, if it ends up making any sense at all — which is not something I can guarantee… Caveat Emptor…
Part I, Autobiographies: Forging Counterculture Conservatism In The Center of the Fire
- Occult author James Wasserman in the context of New Media publishers Roger L. Simon and the late Andrew Breitbart.
Part II, History: The Temple of Solomon and the Foundations of Western Civilization
- Abraham, The Patriarch as Original Counterculturalist.
- Also: the truth about the Muslim occultists who tried to separate Islam from Shariah and their hidden role in shaping Western Freedom.
Part III, Polemics: A Moonchild of Aleister Crowley and Ann Coulter
- “Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other, responsibility. Both edges are exceedingly sharp and the weapon is not suited to casual, cowardly or treacherous hands.” — Jack Parsons…
Part IV, American Exceptionalism: The Secrets Embedded Within The Fourth Great Western Religion
- The Tarot cards hidden in Washington D.C.’s architecture.
- Why America really is a nation of crazy people.
- Also: meet Ronald Reagan’s favorite occultist.
Part V, Media: Douglas Rushkoff and Programming Internet Magic
- The Bible as R-rated Counterculture Comic Book For Adults.
- What’s the difference between capitalism and corporatism?
Part VI, Science: Howard Bloom and the Modern Alchemical Marriage of Secularism and Spirituality
- What does it mean to understand Mother Nature as “a bloody bitch?”
- And what does it look like when an atheist proves that God exists not as a noun, but as the Kabbalists always said, a Verb?
Imagine we were just developing spoken language for the first time. And someone came up with a new word to describe an action, thought, or feeling – like “magnify” or “dreadful.” But in this strange world, the person who came up with the word demanded anyone else who used it to pay him a dollar every time the word was uttered. That would make it pretty difficult for us to negotiate our way to a society that communicated through speech.
That’s the way the patent wars on smartphone and tablet advances are beginning to feel to me.
As a human being, I do not particularly care about Apple’s recent victory in the US version of its patent lawsuit against Samsung for copying its iPhone and iPad’s form and features. Now that Apple is demanding that Samsung pull eight of its products off the shelf, my only personal interest is whether the Samsung products, once banned, will become collectors’ items. Will I one day want to show my grandchild the phone that dared to mimic the iPhone?
But while the details of legalities and impact to share prices and even consumer choice don’t keep me or any of my friends up at night, there is nonetheless something creepy about Apple’s suit. It’s not so much that Apple – the biggest company in the world – has turned into a competitive monster; it’s the territory that Apple’s fighting over. It feels as if the technology innovation wars are no longer over one piece of technology or another, but over us humans.
More on technology from PJ Lifestyle:
The teenagers of the Adolescent Demo Division live inside a media-saturated universe. From birth they prepare to star in their own reality television show as professional video gamers and product testers. They live with the dream that if they perform well then someday they can “level up” and graduate to the real world where perhaps they can meet their birth mothers.
However, this immersion in virtual worlds yielded unforeseen consequences their corporate handlers fail to understand. During the time the A.D.D. spent playing video games and giving their opinions on products they developed the ability to “dekh” new interpretations of reality. Their eyes go blue and all of a sudden they perceive hidden connections behind the media narratives:
This vision allows the A.D.D. to see how empty the video game, hyper-consumer lifestyle is. They realize they are in charge of their own destiny and don’t have to live their parents’ dreams.
Not good for the corporate executives relying on the A.D.D. for their bottom line.
But Rushkoff’s comic isn’t firing shots at corporate America.
Read his nonfiction book Life Inc. for the author’s dissection of corporatism’s infiltration of Western culture and lifestyle. I usually hand this one to my progressive friends when they start ranting about corporate greed and the need for government regulations to save us from Mark Zuckerberg. “Yes, I agree with you that corporations do bad things sometimes,” I concede. “But you’re not going to stop them by passing laws and electing Democrats. You need to change yourself and shift the culture if you want to change the world.”
A.D.D. shows us how this actually works in the real world. And don’t let the science fiction props, new media lingo, and thriller plot fool you. This fantastic metaphor of “dekhing” a new reality — similar to the “grokking” of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land — has basis in reality and Rushkoff’s generation points the direction. The late Andrew Breitbart was only one real life example but there are many more.
Author and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff in an interview about his new graphic novel from D.C./Vertigo, A.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division, on why the worlds of video games and geek culture are so male-dominated, emphasis mine:
“I think to some extent it’s harder for the forces that be to hypnotize women the same way they hypnotize men,” Rushkoff said. “Women were just as susceptible to the marketing of objects. In the 1950s, when they started marketing to women in America after World War II and trying to increase consumption, that’s when kleptomania was first diagnosed — and it was a women’s disease, because they were so marketed to that they would go in and steal stuff from the department store. I’m not saying women are not programmable and susceptible, they are. But it tended to be more for ‘the real.’ I’m finding, at least, that boys and men are more susceptible to the attraction and hypnosis of ‘the virtual,’ whether it’s pornography or video games or ideas. They seem to be more susceptible to these abstract forms of manipulation. Maybe men are more visual and less tactile; there’s probably some old evolutionary biology reasoning for it. Men were hunting, so they had to stay at a distance; women were gathering, so they had to feel the berries in their hands. Who knows what it is, but it doesn’t seem, for the most part, that these worlds are quite as compelling in the same way to women as they are for men. They are compelling — now, the numbers are changing, and I think the number of women involved in social media is greater than the number of men. As the applications change, certainly the gender biases change as well. But this ADD video phenomenon thing does seem to be more boy than girl.”
This of course has something to do with the angry emails and comments that are still coming in from Star Wars enthusiasts more militant than I who could not stand the fact that Kathy Shaidle does not share our pop culture faith.
And to put it in terms that PJM’s regular readers may recognize: publishing Five Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks is done for the same reason why Comedy Central should allow South Park to depict the prophet Mohammed. If we can’t laugh at our idolatry then we’re in trouble.
Nobody should be emailing to complain because Kathy wrote a self-evidently hyperbolic sentence like, “Successful, mature men do not play computer games, attend ‘cons,’ and get excited about overrated science fiction movies from the 1970s.”
We all have silly hobbies. It’s very silly how regularly April and I go to DisneyLand and how much we enjoy goofy rides like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. (Kathy, have any funny mean things to say about DisneyLand obsessives?)
But even sillier than our hobbies is getting emotionally upset when others judge us for them.
David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media and writes a post each day on news and politics at PJ Tatler and culture and entertainment at PJ Lifestyle. He can be contacted with feedback and story tips at DaveSwindlePJM[@]gmail.com and on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He enforces commenting guidelines on his posts — rude, off topic and ad hominem comments will be deleted.
After reading Douglas Rushkoff’s Testament series, which ran for two years starting in 2006, you’ll never look at the Bible the same way again. Doug — who’s also a friend whose books I’ve written about regularly — takes stories from the Old Testament and juxtaposes them with a near-future, dystopian, science fiction thriller. The series begins with Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac and leaps throughout the Torah for other narratives. Rushkoff’s thesis is that the stories of the Bible are always happening throughout human history and our own lives. The comic book medium in particular allows plenty of startlingly effective storytelling techniques.
Film can of course do similar things – perhaps by having the same actor portray multiple roles. Not unlike Bosch Fawstin’s The Infidel, the previous item on this beta version of the top 10 comics to be made into movies list, the provocative intellectual nature of the series makes establishment entertainment funding a long shot in the world of today.