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Does It Matter?: Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2000
It is subtitled "Essays on Man's Relationship to Materiality"...and my copy perhaps is almost ready for the Smithsonian. So much for my relationship with my materiality, eh? Well, I'm still learning. This book is one of his most accessible collections, his writing style here is so light and readable that it's clear that he is getting a kick out of his own whimsical turning of phrases. The words, the symbols, the images, the numbers in which we define reality are NOT reality and according to Watts, we confuse our descriptive world with what is really going on, thus we are distanced and numbed to real situations in the real world...we become blind to nature, we fail to connect to the living vibrations. These essays--I know, yet more descriptives--are designed for us to recognize the problem. (Money is not wealth. We are not our clothes. Food is not the packaging it is placed in.) These essays tell us ways we can connect to the cosmic consciousness...so we can avoid self destruction. One of the best essays is the short piece on Zen scholar DT Suzuki in which, I find, has the best line about both Suzuki and the Alan Watts of this text...it is "as if he had seen the Ultimate Joke and as if, out of compassion for those who had not, he were refraining from laughing out loud." Well, that is almost the way I have often been described, like I've told a joke that few people get...Anyway one of Watt's best, it's a pity is no longer in catalogue....
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Alan Watts is one of my favorite philosophers. His wisdom is timeless, and his views refreshing in this age of mass media hype and overplayed political propaganda. Does it Matter? That is an important question for everyone to ask themselves. I'm not going to list here the many topics covered in this volume, and certainly I'm not equal to Watts in trying to explain it. The book is worth owning even for his writing about children. One can get a whole new perspective on the Columbine shootings, for example, by reading what Watts said about children several decades before. Columbine wasn't a surprise. It's a great book for those who take time to think about life and the real way of the world.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 1999
Alan Watts is somehow able to turn upside down our most basic assumptions and, by doing so, make more sense of the world. "Does It Matter" is a small collection of essays about Western man's relationship to everyday material things (e.g. food, clothing, money). Watts convincingly shakes us out of rutted thinking. With humor, irreverance, sincerity, and clear writing, he articulates profound ideas without resorting to obscure argument. A theme that runs through the essays is our tendency to confuse symbols with the material things to which they refer(desiring the menu more than the food). I get the feeling while reading these essays that the author is comfortable enough in his own search for truth to enjoy sharing it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2008
You need to be an Alan Watts fan to fully appreciate this book; it is not the place to start if you are just getting into him, but it is important if you want a fully representative collection of this brilliant man's work.

Watts' writings, considered as a whole, come close to providing a workable philosophy of life. This book contains essays, some quite funny, about materialism. But it wouldn't make much sense unless you were already familiar with his more important and serious work explaining and translating Buhddist and Hindu thought and practice into Western terms.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 27, 1999
I particularly love Alan Watts' play on words in his titles, in which this case he does so well. A common phrase 'Does It Matter' is the subject in which the author explores and expresses his ideas of materialism in a materialistic age (more so now than in his own time - appearingly). Discussing his own perceptions in which the way things could be in order to get full advantage of living and being free from oneself as well as anything material. Yet, also expressing the notion that materialism, in all its greed and desires, can be viewed as spiritual and indeed be part of every persons awakening to real life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 1998
This book changed my life. It's a series of essays by the late Alan Watts. Two brilliant essays included in it are: "Wealth Versus Money" (the US government should read this one), and "Murder In The Kitchen". Must reading for all Watts fans, and the best book to start with if you aren't familiar with Watts' brilliant insights into the unspoken obvious! -Paula Martin-
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2011
Another fine book by the deceased author, Alan Watts. After reading this book, I decided that my own ideas of making my life simple were reinforced in a very positive way. Simple living, with a reasonable temper on what that means. A modernist of comfort, I only need one cup, one saucer, etc. Make do and do away with excess. Everything else is a "money" on our back. People move and carry all their "great stuff," with them. Alan has made me re-think what is really needed and what can be dismissed. Took everything out of the closet, gave it a social value, and gave away anything that did not fit my life today. Great idea, great book!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2010
To say I was disappointed is putting it mildly. I love the work of Alan Watts. He takes very complex material, and makes it readable and enjoyable and understandable.
This is not that.
I bought it because it was the only Alan Watts book available for Kindle, and my old books of his I tend to re-read every few years, and enjoy all over again.

This is a selection of articles he wrote for popular magazines in the 1960s. The magazines include Playboy. He could not get into philosophy and challenging material. He had to write in a light manner. He wrote about his life, his home, his clothes, and his attitudes. He writes about Viet Nam, and war in general. He writes about psychedelics. The articles are a little longer than magazine articles would be today, and that was interesting, but the material includes no new information, and none of the depth of thought and material that I hope for from Mr. Watts. It is something of a snap-shot of his life and attitudes during the Viet Nam War. The only pleasure in it is that it is Alan Watts, who is enough of a thinker and writer to make almost anything fun to read. I don't imagine I will be using any of this for reference material.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2007
Certainly one of the best of Alan's books I've read! Written towards the end of his life, it details various things that had happened to him, and explains how and why he developed from them. Very readable. I'd suggest this is the book to get to see if you like Alan's style of writing, although his others are somewhat deeper.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2010
Very instructive and creatively spiced with humor. An idea worth contemplating yet very difficult to apply. We are stuck with being blinded and Watts' comparison with the idea of our planet being flat is great. I am reading it the second time and it is as interesting as the first reading.
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