I normally don’t endorse anything. But I’m currently re-reading this book by Alan Watts and I really find it really powerful. Probably more so than before. To make matters even better it’s an easy read as well. For us creative types, I definitely think it should be on your reading list.
Alan Watts was an English born “philosopher/entertainer” as he like to call himself. He wrote prolifically and eloquently about our wrongheaded concept of ourselves as unique and separate individuals. This little quote pulled from his book “Does it Matter” is a good example of his profound, and for most, deeply unsettling views.
Civilization, comprising all the achievements of art and science, technology and industry, is the result of man’s invention and manipulation of symbols — of words, letters, numbers, formulas and concepts, and of such social institutions as universally accepted clocks and rulers, scales and timetables, schedules and laws. By these means, we measure, predict, and control the behavior of the human and natural worlds — and with such startling apparent success that the trick goes to our heads. All too easily, we confuse the world as we symbolize it with the world as it is.
This sign was in a bookstore in San Francisco. I took its picture rather haphazardly with nothing in particular in mind. I’ve been laid up in bed for a few days and stumbled across it just now.
Looking at it again, it struck me that one of the best things anybody can do with their lives is to serve as a door which through which others may pass. A door that, when open, leads to a new and better world.
I recently read a book by the philosopher Alan Watts titled “The Book..On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”. I found it very troubling because it postulates that our concept of ourselves as having individual existence and identity is totally false because it ignores the interdependence of all things and events. Yet the more I read and thought about it the more sense it made.
If you want to get a real existential slap in the face by a writer who makes a brilliant case for the falsehood of our concept of separateness get “The Book” because I guarantee it opens a door to a world you’ve never imagined.
Amazon sells it.