- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon Books; 1st edition (1972)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394469119
- ISBN-13: 978-0394469119
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In My Own Way: An Autobiography, 1915-1965 Hardcover – 1972
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Top Customer Reviews
Watts early on evidenced a love for eastern philosophy. At the age of 20, he was already one of the major writers and thinkers on subjects such as Zen Buddhism and Taoism. He was a major exponent of the Zen outlook of Thou Art That.
Watts, an unfrocked Episcopal priest, has often been derided (wrongfully) as a 'popularizer' of subjects more properly reserved for serious study and practice, and (more rightly) as sometimes glib and definitely irreverent. This book is a record of Watts' indulgence in the pleasures of the flesh with a high spiritual purpose.
Watts wrote more than 20 books, and this is Watts at his irreverent best. Written with his tongue firmly jammed into his cheek, it is a compendium of a lifetime's worth of exuberant fun and learning for the joy of it.
Watts gleefully recounts tales of spiritual masters with stomachaches, hidebound bishops drinking fine wines, and sexy women discovering their Buddha-nature.
Nothing is too minor or too major for Watts's wit, and his reminiscences carry us from the bathroom of his childhood home in England to Canterbury Cathedral, from New York City to Big Sur, and touch on almost every major and many minor figures of the 1950s and 1960s.
Watts unabashedly tells us that he finds his life intensely interesting. Anyone reading IN MY OWN WAY would agree.
More importantly, his recounting of his life completely lacks a sense of problems or misfortunes. Some people really do lack this, but from his biographies it is evident that Alan Watts did not. He does not (at the request of his father) talk about his relationship with his mother at all in the book, and he also does not discuss at all his alcoholism problems. He also does not discuss the sexual problems which led to his first marriage dissolving, and doesn't really explain why he divorced his second wife. I found this disappointing because he probably had a lot of wisdom to share about this. It also makes him seem less human. ...
Despite all this, the autobiography is entertaining and definitely worth reading for anyone interested in an inside view of the counterculture movement. His reflections, though at times a little too confident, are still mostly interesting to read.
However, I would recommend reading this book along with an objective biography like "Zen Effects- the Life of Alan Watts" to get a more balanced view on his life.
The book is also filled with details that are as fascinating as they are hilarious. A friend of his youth made a pilgrimage to a famous and ancient monastery, which he discovered was "an elaborate homosexual organization." Though he lacked a university degree, Watts was allowed to study at Northwestern, which he described as "the type of place where philosphers worked from 9 to 5." Later, in LA, he hung out with Aldous Huxley, experimenting with hallucinogens, beating drums all night long, and listening to the incredible rhythm of that brilliant man's speech, which he says arrested all conversation in entire restaurants. The list goes on and on.
It was only at the insistence of two women in his life, his publisher's editor, Paula McGuire, and his third wife, Mary Jane Yates, that he consented to write down the details of the making of Alan Watts. Along the way we meet the people who influenced Alan, who helped guide, shape, and direct his persona. And though he was influenced by many people in his life, whose works and ideas found their way into his many books, essays, and lectures, Alan possessed, all on his own, a certain knack or genius for getting at the essence of a theme or subject. And then he was able to effectively communicate that essence, using his abundant imagination, to his readers and listeners. And this not just for the highbrows in the audience, but for every class of person who picks up one of his books and proceeds to make the effort to understand the ideas and concepts he expresses. Alan's work was, if anything, accessible to the reader, whatever his level of interest.
The title of this review, The Way I Came To Be, refers to the story that makes up the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It starts slow but well worth the read. Applicable story-telling and classic Alan Watts teachings interwoven together. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Zach H
This was a gift and the recipient loved it and doesn't want to finish it because it will be over then. Very big admirer of Alan Watts.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm very interested in him and his ideas anyway, so, yes, of course it's going to be worthwhile. That's why I ordered it.Published 3 months ago by Harry C. Lonergan III
Inspiring, beautifully written account of an amazing life, completed one year before he died. Treat yourself to a wonderful read.Published 4 months ago by Joan
A deep insight into the life of Alan Watts. It reads much like a personal conversation than a recounting of ones life from 'that bathtub to the crematorium' at Alan would say.Published 12 months ago by Timothy D. Sparks
This is one of my all time favorite autobiographies. I first read it when it came out in 1972. I had read all of Alan Watt's books, belonged to his Society of Comparative... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Thomas Tenney
If Bruce Lee reads alan, then he must be doing something goodPublished 17 months ago by Amazon Customer