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Boomeritis : A Novel That Will Set You Free Hardcover – June 11, 2002

3.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wilber (A Brief History of Everything) shifts (sort of) from philosophy to fiction in this story about a young MIT grad student's journey to self-discovery, which is finally little more than a thinly veiled attempt to outline and promote a theory of consciousness. Dubbed Ken Wilber, just like his creator, the novel's protagonist finds answers in his search for identity when he attends a series of consciousness lectures at an institute called the Integral Center. There, Wilber is exposed to an eight-level theory of consciousness and buys into the lecturer's premise that baby-boomers made the first step into higher awareness before they got "stuck" in their own narcissism and self-absorption, leaving it to subsequent generations to take things to the next level. Wilber makes a halfhearted effort to inject some plot elements as he tracks his friends' romances and their reaction to the theory, but most of this book is a lengthy rant about the shortcomings of boomers, padded with analysis of various thinkers, political movements and the effect of computers on modern thought. Wilber (the author) has some interesting ideas but, philosophical issues aside, this isn't much of a novel, and Wilber's failure to develop a coherent narrative, some semblance of a plot or interesting characters will deter many readers.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Wilber here introduces concepts discussed in his Integral Psychology in the form of a highly entertaining postmodernist novel. Wilber's central character, also named Ken Wilber, is a student at MIT who is energized by his belief that within 30 years artificial intelligence (AI) will have so progressed that humans can upload their consciousness and move from carbon-based to silicon-based life forms. One day he stumbles into an integral psychology seminar and comes to realize that what humans do with these next 30 carbon-based years will greatly affect the AI of the future. The entire seminar is presented within the framework of the novel, along with lunchtime synthesis and analysis presented by Ken and his friends (representatives of Gen X and Y), with Ken's sexual fantasies intruding at regular intervals. Integral psychology is based on levels of consciousness, along with the belief that Gen X and Y will be the first to enter the second tier of consciousness. The boomers came close but then got bogged down in egocentrism and ethnocentrism. Unfortunately, as Ken and his friends are discovering, boomers are ruling the world and trying to perpetuate their flawed philosophies. Boomeritis is destined to be a cult classic and is recommended for all libraries. Debbie Bogenshutz, Cincinnati State & Technical Coll. Lib.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (June 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570628017
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570628016
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Hanson on June 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
At least thirty percent of the population will probably not like this book, yet it may turn out to be a great example of the Perfect Postmodern Novel. If the three editorial reviews of "Boomeritis" I've seen are any indication, many readers will not understand Wilber's intent in writing this book. It's so sad when you see people get whacked between the eyes with a Stick Of Compassion and yet they don't even know they've been whacked.
You'll soon see why I give this book 5 stars, but this is what you can expect to find in Boomeritis (as I shamelessly rip concepts and phrases from the book - I doubt Ken would mind. He might even find it humorous):
1) This book is sharply critical of many of society's closely held ideals and ideas, and many sacred cows are viciously gored. Too, it isn't soothing that the author comes across as polemical and pathetically narcissistic.
2) As written, there seems to be no difference between fact and fiction. Did this really happen? Does this character really exist, or not? At least one character, in fact, has a real-life counterpart of the same name and job description, but others seem to be an amalgam of various personalities both real and fictional. And many so-called facts are truly questionable.
3) Some of the main characters have been portrayed with shady, shallow, and reprehensible backgrounds. A certain segment of the readership will probably find the demographic distribution of these characters to be expected and fitting, others will find it curiously unnerving.
4) It's boring! The writing is incredibly flat. It often seems to be all Theory, a stream of verbal vomit, with no flowing prose or colorful descriptions of surroundings, people, or places.
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Format: Hardcover
Wilber is a strange character. He's unbelievably smart and unbelievably well-read. He's also unbelievably goofy, so reading him is often like meeting up with a version of the owner of Garfield the Cat with a 300 IQ.
This book tracks the attendance of a 20-something young man (with a 300 IQ and a hopelessly goofy personality) named Ken Wilber at a series of lectures at something called the Integral Center. He is a student at MIT and working on some sort of artificial intelligence project with the idea that silicon can develop the consciousness that flesh has now and evolve much more quickly and that the two consciousnesses might someday merge (as in Kurzweil's Age of Spiritual Machines) -- of course there's an alternative, sinister possibility (as in Dan Simmons's Hyperion books) but neither of these possibilities is really explored (Wilber ultimately arrives at a new understanding of the flesh and silicon evolutionary processes). The real point of the book is a kind of exposition of Wilber's version of Don Beck's spiral dynamics theory of human development.
We get this fed to us through a series of lectures by a series of cardboard characters distinguished by superficial qualities (skin color, sexuality, eye color) but who all speak the same wooden dialogue. These monologues are punctuated by character Wilber's erotic imaginings which arrive with the mindless frequency and communicative vacancy of a series of obscene phone calls. In between the lectures, Wilber meets with his peers who exchange would-be witty put-downs and eat meals. There are hints of sub-sub-sub plots - this one doesn't get along with that one, that one is jealous for some reason of another one, but nothing that advances any action or seems to mean anything in the big picture of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
As I read the opening of this twisted tale ["I am the bastard child of two deeply confused parents, one of whom I am ashamed of, the other of whom is ashamed of me. None of us are on speaking terms, for which we are all grateful. (These things bother you, every now and then.)"], I had the distinct sense that I was on the initial incline of a breathtaking roller-coaster (chunk, chunk, chunk). I was not disappointed.
WARNING: This ride is not for everyone!
It is a terrible novel, yes, and full of awful ideas...in the sense that the book simply won't behave and it takes you places that you may not want to go. This book offends and irritates and soothes...it slaps your [rear] while it holds your hand and fills your head with all manner of difficulty. When it's not doing that, it's busy warping the boundaries between what's real and what's imagined. Oh, yes, there's also distracting sexual imagery and escapes into non-ordinary states that interrupt the flow of the story. (How irritating and what poor form!) In between, it provides yet another view of Ken's overwhelming synthesis and blasphemy, arrogance and sheer joy in a vehicle that provokes as much it transports.
I understand the editorial critiques that say this is just one more look at Ken's philosophy, but that's a bit like saying "oh...another look at the Louvre. Haven't we seen that already?" However, every time I am exposed to this vast body of thought and spirit and heart, I learn. So don't read this solely to be entertained...although that's likely to happen. Don't look for character development -- that is, not in the characters in the book -- it seems to happen instead to the people who read the book.
So be forewarned. I have a friend who is a former pro ball player, a cognitive psychologist and a seeker. His one sentence review, after eating the book whole, was "I loved every minute of it...but it was really painful."
That's why you should read it.
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