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Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah Paperback – January 12, 1998
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Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From the Inside Flap
In the cloud-washed airspace between the cornfields of Illinois and blue infinity, a man puts his faith in the propeller of his biplane. For disillusioned writer and itinerant barnstormer Richard Bach, belief is as real as a full tank of gas and sparks firing in the cylinders...until he meets Donald Shimoda--former mechanic and self-described messiah who can make wrenches fly and Richard's imagination soar....
In Illusions, the unforgettable follow-up to his phenomenal bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach takes to the air to discover the ageless truths that give our souls wings: that people don't need airplanes to soar...that even the darkest clouds have meaning once we lift ourselves above them... and that messiahs can be found in the unlikeliest places--like hay fields, one-traffic-light midwestern towns, and most of all, deep within ourselves.
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But I am also compelled to admit that Richard Bach's "Illusion" is as others claim: it is a simple and easy read. But so was Robert Munsch's book "The Mud Puddle" and Dr. Suess' "Green Eggs and Ham". And while I enjoyed both of these books at seven, neither, I think, changed my life in fundamental ways. I just got a kick out of the rhymes and the pictures. Unfortunately for Bach, his philosophy is so simple that his pictures can't help. Oh. And he doesn't rhyme either.
People complain that philosophy is usually presented in "dull and complex" ways. The reason for this, is that philosophy includes COMPLEX IDEAS. And complex ideas, regardless of literary approach and style will remain complex. Stephan Hawkings' "A Brief History of Time" proves this. Sure, we can all read about wormholes and envision Asimov-esque time machines. But can we place these ideas into their proper context of complex astro-physical calculations? Unless you sign with S-A-G-A-N, I wish you good luck.
Truth is, Bach's "Illusions" is simple because the philosophy is simple. In a line: "You can do what you want!" He's taken the story of Christ (the misunderstood, persecuted Messiah - Don) sprinkled on some quasi Buddhist ideas (Illusions / Renunciation - Don "quits" because no one listens) added one part Nietzsche (Be creative! Take control!) and topped it off with miracles to hold the interest of those already bored with the ideas and the pictures.
What this books amounts to is philosophical windowshopping -- pluck all the fuzzy happy ideas from some major historical schools of thought and put them into a fuzzy happy feel-good-about-myself story. Be sure to avoid the darker areas of life. Write safely. Take no risks. Cross no lines.
It would be nice if we could all walk on water. It would be nice that anyone not born into privilege could "create" the same opportunities for themselves through "hard work" and "will". But this is often not the case. (See HISTORY 1000 B.C. -- circa NOW). Read Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha" for a better literary rendering of the life of the *real* Buddha. And read "Ecce Homo" or "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" by Nietzsche for a truly stylish account of joyish affirmation.
In the end, this is a book is simplistic borderline boring. Its for cozy people without a whole lot of real problems. And if you're wondering what I mean by this -- If you can turn to any page of this book and there's a quote there to solve your life's problems, then you really don't have any problems.
You probably just forgot your cell phone near the cappucino machine back at the condo.
I haven't even finished it, but I know it won't do much for my soul. I kind of thought it would be more spiritual, but it is just some nonsensical passages that seem too obvious to be profound in any way.
Richard rides around in a plane with Don, who also has a plane. They discuss random things. Richard looks up to Don and Don tries to teach him the ways of becoming a Messiah. At one point, Dracula is conjured up in an image and then just exits the scene. I guess this is to prove a point, but it just doesn't seem to flow with the rest of the book.
Okay, so the point is everything is an illusion, or you know, we make our own destiny, blah blah. If you need a book to tell you that, you were never meant to control your destiny at all.
I've read this book over 30 times in the last 15 years, and I never fail to find something new to learn from it. I've given countless copies away to friends who then give copies to their friends.
When "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" was first published, an elderly relative told me Bach was the devil incarnate. Imagine what she'd say about THIS one!
I've not had the good fortune to run across a Donald Shimoda-like character, but I think I'd be ready to hear what he said.
Two quotes from Shimoda's 'The Messiah's Handbook and Reminders for the Advanced Soul' are worth repeating:
Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet them than your acquaintences will know you in a thousand years.
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life....Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.
This book has been a great gift to me and I'm thankful it found me!
It's easy listening because the philosophical speculations contained in it are largely sophmoric. (Your friends will know you better in the first minute than your associates will in the first thousand years.)
It's thought provoking in its suggestion that the physical sphere we inhabit is only as real as we recognize it to be.
It is in this way that Bach's messiah is able to teach levitation, walking on the water and like. In this regard, Bach was particularly strong at the beginning of this book with his parable of the pebble. It rose because it willed itself to.
What made Bach's earlier work -- Jonathan Livingston Seagull -- stronger was its focus on the idea that spreading your wings and flying was to be taken metaphorically (viz. a challenge to follow your dreams not litterally achieve physical flight).
When I first finished this book, I couldn't help but thinking that if Bach -- given the mindset of this book -- were to write a sequel to Hemmingway's Old Man and The Sea, he would have focused more improving the Old Man's fishing techniques.
It just seems like a messiah capable of conquering physics would have better philosophies to share than what you'd get from a fortune cookie.
That said, I still find the ending devestatingly sad.
Most recent customer reviews
Just one jewel of truth from Illusions. Not preachy/teachy, just a great story full of wisdom and fun.Read more
however, a page was torn when I received it. I kept it but I think sellers of books should take better care!