When literary journalist Chip Brown offers up his heart to various healers for mending, the result is a probing, often hilarious journey into the depths of the alternative-medicine movement. Consider the power of mummified bananas. You may call exponents of this diet "woo-woos and wackos," as Brown once did, but as the director of the University of Nevada's Consciousness Research Lab said, "You're wacky before you succeed. Afterwards, you're a genius."
Afterwords, You're a Genius should appeal to a much broader readership than most New Age titles because Brown's first-person narrative succeeds in fusing humor, intellect, and curiosity with a dazzling writing style reminiscent of Tom Wolfe. Suddenly, reading about metaphysics is hip, not dippy.
Examining not only his own intentions but the healers', Brown's record of his growing awareness of such things as chakra influences is amusing. At the same time, the book asks truly important questions about conventional Western medicine and ponders the meaning of a widespread loss of faith in doctors. While he acknowledges that "most of the secular academic world equates faith with naïve self-delusion and holds that to entertain the fairy tales of a higher power is to affront the only real higher power, which is reason," he reports that more and more highly educated people are seeking alternative treatment. "Belief," he writes, "is still working some of the weirdest voodoo in the healing world."
Highly informative and offering prolific footnotes, Brown struggles with "chronic misgivings," the "ineffable," and logic as he witnesses things that can "no more be corralled in language than the essence of smell." He writes,
The trauma in Cynthia's back felt like when you go from a paved road to gravel. Cancer felt like dancing in a mosh pit. The voice of the liver was like a cassette playing too slowly in a Walkman with rundown batteries. The pancreas had an agile, hyper feeling. Lymph nodes felt like humid wind blowing over small grapes.
Ultimately, Brown, an award-winning journalist, offers readers a critical look at the field of medicine and metaphysics without supposing solutions. Quoting from great thinkers like Saint Augustine ("Understanding is the reward of faith") and Thomas Sydenham ("the arrival of a good clown exercises more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than twenty asses laden with drugs"), perhaps Brown is most in sync with Emerson
, who wrote: "Our life is not threatened so much as our perception." Afterwards, You're a Genius
dares to open the doors. --Cristina Del Sesto
From Publishers Weekly
Though the subject of alternative medicine often leads to polarized and strident debate, Brown brings bracing intellectual balance and humor to his exploration of the ways in which faith and spirit contribute to physical healing. Brown, a former reporter for the Washington Post and an award-winning journalist, draws on extensive historical research, lectures and interviews with practitioners, and his own experiences as a patient in this engaging and provocative analysis. He points out that a "longing for meaning" drives the increasing numbers of people who seek alternatives to Western medicine. Drawn to practices based on the concept of "chakras," or energy centers within the body, Brown is clearly sympathetic to alternative approaches, and he makes his exploration of the subject intensely personal. But his lively skepticism also leads him to question some tenets of spiritual healing and to acknowledge the real advances achieved by modern medical science. One of the book's best chapters brings the reader into the operating room of a cardiac surgeon as a bypass patient is helped during surgery by a healer who is present throughout the procedure. Another describes the complex feelings that evolve over Brown's long course of treatment with Rachel, an aspiring novelist as well as a healer, who reveals a disappointing egotism when she asks Brown to critique her newest manuscript. While this book offers no solid answers about how healing occurs, its value lies in the important questions it raises and in the genuine spirit of inquiry, buttressed by critical thinking, that Brown brings to his subject.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.