Whenever you finish a book, post it here

Rigsby

Pelican
Gold Member
Paracelsus said:
Flow, Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi



This is no doubt an important book to read, but that isn't to say it's perfect. Csikszentmihalyi is the creator of the concept of flow, i.e. the idea of optimal experience and what conditions one has to satisfy in order to reach it. Flow is not unlocking superhuman powers or concentration, it comes down to squeezing maximum enjoyment out of what one does and therefore happiness.

A couple of prefaces to bear in mind.

First is that the author is a psychologist, which means you take the ideas with a grain of salt because psychology in general is not a field generally amenable to replication and most of the people practicing it don't understand how statistics works. (On the other hand, and it's encouraging: no sign of the triple brackets in the guy's background, though his bio indicates as a kid he spent time in an Italian prison camp, though I can't seem to figure out why.) In general, you only accept psychology's principles where it's only restating or verifying something in the way the ancients led and practiced their lives; that's where its test of time applies.

Second is that, in common with a lot of stupid academics, Csikszentmihalyi tries pretty hard to make the isolated concept of flow have a lot more significance than it actually does, into a sort of unified field theory that unlocks how to be happy for all people everywhere. He's too greedy to let his ideas be an interesting toolkit for hacking the biological aspects of the brain and wants to suggest that his discovery of flow actually is the key to achieving meaning in existence. He's therefore atheistic in his outlook and when he does encounter a homeless man whose outlook on life is about as Christian as you can get, he smugly describes the discussion as "placidly hallucinogenic". (Still, the transcript of the homeless man's conversation makes it into the book, and it's like a bolt of clear lightning). His definition of happiness seems to be just "distract yourself until you're dead," which is fine because flow is in essence about distracting yourself.

Third, he's a classic liberal; asks us to engage in social justice goals almost as a reflex without explaining why, which is a big problem with his viewpoint and this quasi-philosophy surrounding the theory itself. There's a fair amount of moralising in here.

Flow is not a superpower. It's not going to make you better at your job, your hobby, or whatever it is. It's not unlocking the supposedly-unused 90% of your brain or whatever pseudoscientists like to tell us. At best it's the key to getting maximum enjoyment out of what you're doing.

All of that said:

It's a brilliant piece of work, and the studies conducted on the theory - I am largely assuming this - have been replicated. The book also contains a certain amount of redpill, if only because it calls into question the underlying and dominant mindset of current Western civilisation - that being that sensation, that whatever makes you feel good, is all, and self-denial is to be despised. And it's also a pretty good short summary of how consciousness works (assuming the materialist model, but anyway.)

Flow comes down to this: if you've ever had one of those moments when time seems to stop and you are just right in the moment and happy being there, you're experiencing flow. You're experiencing what seems to be the maximum enjoyment a human organism can have. And when we look across a wide variety of people, a wide variety of professions, the markers that seem to determine flow are these in combination:

1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment (focusing attention - your psychic energy - on what is happening right now, not on the future or past. This also means removing distractions, also see why serious listeners to music dim the lights and sit in a comfortable chair before listening to a piece of music)
2. Merging of action and awareness (No distinction between body and mind, or at least no time to be conscious of it)
3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness (No time to wonder how silly you look, i.e. all ego is submerged, something yoga is good at eventually but isn't a complete answer)
4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity (that is, the illusion of control: rock climbers are mostly in control of their situation, but ultimately answer to random rockslides or disintegration of a handhold)
5. A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered (comes part from the intense focus on the present moment)
6. Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience (generated by the fact the exercise is meaningful to the person, and does not require Big Success On Fifth Avenue - flow can be generated on assembly lines as consistently as it is generated by the inspired artist. What matters is one sets the goal for one's self.)

But there are also two other crucial components to this:

7. Immediate and continuing feedback on the success of one's actions. For the rock climber, it's the fact he made it to the next handhold and didn't die. Writing doesn't necessarily generate this: you don't get immediate feedback on whether that sentence you just wrote is good or not, so it isn't easy to enter flow.
8. A sense that the goal is achievable. This is crucial to flow: you have to feel you can actually achieve the goal. This is why you set smaller goals in pursuit of a larger one - because our egos are not strong; we like to believe we can succeed. You won't get in flow taking on insurmountable odds, you'll only get there if you're already at the level of ability where it's at least possible there will be a success. Compare the all-important idea of the growth mindset, something most self-improvement authors from Josh Waitzkin to Scott Adams have emphasised - that ability in a given enterprise is not set, that it's possible to improve incrementally across the lifespan.

I tend to trust a book when it seems to lock together other disparate concepts I've run across from different authors, and Flow does so. This is not a cheap instruction manual on how to achieve flow, the author is at some pains to point out the observations he's made need thought and application to the person's own life. And it pushes against some of the dominant mindsets in the West: consumerism, narcissism, and in particular against the unachievable "everybody Can Succeed" mindset that is pushed on us from our early teens. This is about finding enjoyment in one's own activities, and it's not easy.

The book is well worth a read. Check it out, you'll pick up some things. I took a bit too long reading this book and I'll have to come back to it, but I will be going back nonetheless.

I just skimmed this. My egg sarnie is nearly cooked. Shit, it's burned!

Never mind. Important matters are at hand.


Flow is the whole purpose of my life.

It comes with good sex. It can even come with a good meal. Cooking the meal. Even knowing how to eat it: enjoy every sandwich.

I have a very easy path for it: Music.

I can make beats and create harmonies. I can twist and turn sound to my advantage like a wizard. It's a rare trick. Perfected over a lifetime. But those frequencies do it for me. Not talking any of that 445Hz bollocks.

Sometimes I will start making a track at 11PM, and I will not eat or shit or piss or get out of my seat until 11AM. And there I have it. Finished. Perfected.

Pure fucking flow.

I can go like a monster for hours on end.

But it's within the arts I find myself. I also do 3D stuff - visual arts. It is how I almost made myself half blind, and I need glasses now. Damn.

But it's also within computer programming and doing higher computer stuff that I find 'Flow' as well. Need to get in to Virtual Machines? 18 hours solid. NO stop. Not even getting out of bed for a piss or something to eat. No shit. Pure adrenaline.

But the body pays a price after a while. There is only so long you can do that 'Flow'.

And my mind is so tortured these days. I just want to immerse myself in something that takes my mind off all my problems. So 'Flow' is a good way to go.

Learning new things. Things that tax your mind, that is good too.

Sometimes the spirit is not with you. I tried to play the guitar the other day and it was all wrong. I had forgotten everything. I could not play. Nothing. All those years of practice. 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for years.

And then you forget it all again. And it comes good.

I can just about always get in to the zone with music.

I know the frequencies. I know the beats.

And I can combine that with colour and light.


Just a quick comment before I go to bed Paracelsus.

I'll read your comment again and do it justice next time.

It's gone 6 in the morning here and I'm wrecked.

Need to make another egg sarnie.

Might put a bit of grated cheese on it.

Mayo on one side of the bread.

Bit of Tomato sauce on the other.

The big question is: do I dare to get those fruity little Jalapeno peppers out of the pot? I love them, but they don't love me...

I may be gone for some time.
 
Just read the book 'Suspect' By Robert Crais, an American mystery writer.

Among other things, a beautiful story about the friendship between a man and his dog. Loyalty, trust etc. Very touching read.

I'm glad I have found a good new crime writer in Crais.
 

Bizet

Woodpecker
Some more books I read recently, in order from favourite to least favourite...

The Rats - James Herbert

A sleepy London village gets infested by a pack of giant, blood-thirsty rats. Not exactly high-brow litrature, but I really enjoyed this book. The premise sounds like something Stephen King would come up with, but Herbert is a far superior writer to King and he actually creates characters that you care about; something King has never been able to do (for me anyway).

South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami

A successful, happily married family man runs into his childhood crush some 20 years later and falls in love with her. This book was incredibly well written. Although I couldn't understand why the protagonist, a man in his SMV prime, was so obsessed with a (clearly damaged) woman in her mid 30's. I think learning game and taking the redpill has left me a bit jaded.

Royal Flash - George Macdonald Fraser

The second novel in the Flashman series. Plenty of womanising and political incorrectness in this book. It was a decent read, although the first book in the series, 'Flashman' is much better.

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

I wasn't a fan of this book at all. I know it's a classic and everything, but I found it to be a massive slog to read.
 

Richard Turpin

Kingfisher
Bizet said:
Some more books I read recently, in order from favourite to least favourite...

The Rats - James Herbert

A sleepy London village gets infested by a pack of giant, blood-thirsty rats. Not exactly high-brow litrature, but I really enjoyed this book. The premise sounds like something Stephen King would come up with, but Herbert is a far superior writer to King and he actually creates characters that you care about; something King has never been able to do (for me anyway).

South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami

A successful, happily married family man runs into his childhood crush some 20 years later and falls in love with her. This book was incredibly well written. Although I couldn't understand why the protagonist, a man in his SMV prime, was so obsessed with a (clearly damaged) woman in her mid 30's. I think learning game and taking the redpill has left me a bit jaded.

Royal Flash - George Macdonald Fraser

The second novel in the Flashman series. Plenty of womanising and political incorrectness in this book. It was a decent read, although the first book in the series, 'Flashman' is much better.

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

I wasn't a fan of this book at all. I know it's a classic and everything, but I found it to be a massive slog to read.
I remember reading Rats years (decades) ago and loving it. Yeah Herbert is better than King.

The Flashman books are nothing short of being a bona fide gift to Mankind. I'd urge any man to pick them all up in physical form before they are banned (I'm certain this will happen). They entertain, but educate in equal measure.

I read Heart of Darkness as a teen and probably misunderstood it. I remember being bored and struggling with it. Might revisit one day.

I'm still working through the Warhammer 40k Black Library books. They are awesome. I sincerely hope they never, ever become mainstream and that the cold, evil light of wokeness never finds them.
 

Paracelsus

Crow
Gold Member
Replay, Ken Grimwood



If you're in your forties, I thoroughly recommend this book.

To be honest, this is a re-read. I ran into Replay after Dan Simmons mentioned it in one of his online stories/articles, and it proved to be a really good recommendation.

The basic premise is: a 43 year old man dies of a heart attack in 1988 ... but then wakes up 18 years old again in 1963 with all his memories of his life intact. And then he keeps going through the same cycle.* It's essentially Groundhog Day, but done a lot more seriously, sensitively, and with some real exploration of the possibilities. It has a light touch, it covers a lot of different philosophical ground, and there are moments in it when I was, really, brought to the verge of tears. I don't reread a lot of books, but this is one of them. I burned through the book just as fast I did the first time round.

As said, I suspect it probably has greatest appeal for Gen X or late Baby Boomers, but the story is beautiful and it'll work whatever your age. Don't miss it, this is a great novel.

* Ken Grimwood died at the age of 59 ... of a heart attack. While working on the sequel to this novel.
 

Paracelsus

Crow
Gold Member
World War Z, Max Brooks



So bloody Millennial it hurts.

Elements of it are Red Pill - and confrontingly so - but Brooks just can't get his fucking politics out of the way. Fetishisation of the New Deal, fiftysomething ex-nuns on the firing line for fifteen hours straight, constant tilts of the fedora to climate change, always the post-imperialist mindset. Brooks is the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, has been in the entertainment industry a while.

All of that said, it's a pretty good read, more a series of interlinked short stories than anything else, but it works pretty well. Particularly liked the story he did of the guy left behind in Japan, watch out for it, it's pretty cool. I just wish he'd tried a bit harder not to put his leftie credentials on display.
 

Silver_Tube

Woodpecker
Gold Member
I just read 'Everywhere Present, Christianity in a one-storey universe'



Its from the same priest that runs the 'Glory to God for All Things' blog. I was drawn to it because of his articles about modernism and how it differs from the classical worldview. It is about how we view spiritual things like they are part of a second floor compartment apart from our daily lives, how we view time and space differently than Christians did in the past, how we came to this modern perspective, and how/why to turn it around. I thought it was really interesting.

It kept me off reddit for a couple days too, which was nice.
 

Syberpunk

Pelican
Gold Member
Paracelsus said:
World War Z, Max Brooks



So bloody Millennial it hurts.

Elements of it are Red Pill - and confrontingly so - but Brooks just can't get his fucking politics out of the way. Fetishisation of the New Deal, fiftysomething ex-nuns on the firing line for fifteen hours straight, constant tilts of the fedora to climate change, always the post-imperialist mindset. Brooks is the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, has been in the entertainment industry a while.

All of that said, it's a pretty good read, more a series of interlinked short stories than anything else, but it works pretty well. Particularly liked the story he did of the guy left behind in Japan, watch out for it, it's pretty cool. I just wish he'd tried a bit harder not to put his leftie credentials on display.
This is such a great book, in spite of the politics (which is very centrist imo). I don't re-read fiction, but its so vivid I couldn't wait to do it again; that film was an abomination.

My favourite stories were the billionaire holed up in Antartica after screwing the world over on a vaccine he sold as the crisis was emerging. the ISS story, the downed fighter pilot in Louisiana, what happened in North Korea and yes of course, Yonkers, the way they waged war back inch by inch using colonial techniques, the Chinese submarine surfacing near the Brazil coast, people afraid to go swimming for years afterwards. The Pacific flotilla. Last song from Rio. Most global catastrophe stories rarely feel global and well thought through like this one.
 

Bizet

Woodpecker
Flash for Freedom - George MacDonald Fraser

I'm currently reading my way through the 'Flashman' book series. This is the fourth Flashman novel I've read now, and it's definitely my favourite one so far.

In this book, Flashman unwilling finds himself becoming a slave trader (the book is set back in 1848). This book is massively politically incorrect, even for Flashman standards. It reminded me of both 'Heart of Darkness' and 'Huckleberry Finn' at different times, but with way more wenching and debauchery.

What I really love about The Flashman Papers, is you learn a lot about history. For example, I always just assumed that white people came over to Africa and kidnapped the locals against their will (for some reason I imagined they did this with giant cartoon-like butterfly nets). However, while reading this book, I learned that a lot of the time the local African tribal leaders actually traded their own people over to the whites in exchange for guns and alcohol.

I definitely recommend this book, but if you're new to the series, start with the first book 'Flashman' to get a bit of background on the characters, then read this one.
 

Bazzwaldo

Woodpecker
Day of the Rope by Devon Stack

This is the first book written by Stack, the man who goes by the moniker Black Pilled on YT
Given his insightful and well presented videos thought I’d give his written word a go
First impressions are if you’re going to read it, don’t buy the book, the quality of paper is crap plus expensive for 100 odd pages
It’s a futuristic dystopian tale filled with cliché. The book needs some serious editing as the story’s time references seemed all over the place but it is readable
For someone who really does have a handle on how things are, I came away quite disappointed with the blatantly obvious targets and his poorly veiled suggestion to take up this method of reprisal in a more literal sense.
He does however make an accurate assessment of the kind of future we are facing and his suggestions are not entirely off the mark. He doesn’t realise his loyal viewing audience are a little more sophisticated than his writing suggests
2.5/5

You can get an idea of the theme of the book as he reads the first chapter here
 

Regent

Pigeon
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. Great book with actionable ideas though could be shorter. Lots of practical illustrations. To distill the book to a sentence or two, it says to ask yourself how your idea is useful. "Usefulness".
2. To have a compelling offer, three things must meet up in your business. Audience, Proposition, and Time.

If you're thinking of side gig, this is a good book to prep you for the realities you'll be facing.

Recommended.

Next up is The Personal MBA. Hopefully it meets up to its hype. If you can get it, Rework by Jason Fried is a good one.
 

Kurgan

Kingfisher
I finished reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King just now.

Aside from King's politics, this is a pretty good sequel to his work, The Shining. It shows the life of Daniel Torrance after the events of The Shining and his struggles with his gift and alcoholism. He ends up helping a young girl who has the same gift and is being stalked by parasitic humans who take the shining out of young children who have it.

A bit long but still good.

Looking forward to the movie coming out in October, it looks to take place after Kubrick's movie but still pay homage to King's work. Stephen King didn't really like Stanley's Kubrick version of The Shining.
 
Just finished “The Temptation Of St. Anthony,” a novel by Gustave Flaubert about one night in the hermit’s life. It took him 30 years to write and he clearly did a deep dive on basically all of Christian and pagan philosophy in order to create such a masterpiece.
 

debeguiled

Peacock
Gold Member
MichaelWitcoff said:
Just finished “The Temptation Of St. Anthony,” a novel by Gustave Flaubert about one night in the hermit’s life. It took him 30 years to write and he clearly did a deep dive on basically all of Christian and pagan philosophy in order to create such a masterpiece.
Did you learn anything?

Obligatory picture of St. Anthony being tempted by a bunny.

 
Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth by Wayne Barrett.

Great book! A super-detailed history of Trump's business dealings from the 70s all the way to the present. This is like the antidote to Trump's Art of the Deal, in which he basically toots his own horn. Got a little boring midway through because the author provided too many details about the various intricacies of tax laws and such but otherwise a solid read.

Gives you a good idea of Trump's personality, character, and his motivations. Everything happening in his admin now starts making a whole lotta sense.
 

Salinger

Woodpecker
Has anyone read John Updike's Rabbit series? One of the later books sounded a bit liberal but the first one in the series is supposed to be a classic.

 

An0dyne

Robin
Not super flashy, but I just finished a book entitled Psychology for Musicians. Overall, it was an interesting read that highlighted the way the brain perceives music, ultimately creating unique mental representations that form a basis for the way that we as individuals perceive the external aural stimuli that constitute a musical work.

Something that troubled me though (and this is a common theme in much of modern academia) is the tendency to look askance at traditional pedagogical models in favor of post-modern ones. Of course, it is not presented this way. The dichotomy was presented as work-focused vs. person-focused. On the surface, this seems laudable. But it eventually amounted to stating that there is no objective meaning or truth in a given musical work, but rather that each piece is subjective and can only be interpreted on an individual basis.

Obviously, this stands to some level of reason given the idea of mental representation that I summarized above. And the inference that we create unique interpretations of musical works on an internal level seems reasonable. But I do not think that an individual's perception can be made to negate the reality of the objective meaning intended by both the composer and performer of a given piece. Even if we as individuals interpret the work differently, it is wrong to say that there was no intended meaning or "right" interpretation. Taken to an eschatological level, the whole universe is predicated on objective truth (God). The post-modern ideology (a misnomer if there ever was one) has us believe there is no truth--in the infamous words of Pontius Pilate, "What is truth?" (Standing in front of you, dope). But I digress.

Anywho, on the whole the science is fascinating, if you're into that sort of thing. Pardon my rant.
 

bgbusiness

Kingfisher
How To Create Wealth Investing in Real Estate by Grant Cardone

Got the book as it was like $10, feels good that I saved some money as it's going for $20+ on Amazon.
I have read his other book, "Be Obsessed of Be Average", which was a quick fun read, but this is my first book on real estate. I have only watched a lot of videos by him.
 
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