- Paperback: 270 pages
- Publisher: Peter Welch; Revised edition (January 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0985318139
- ISBN-13: 978-0985318130
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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And Then I Thought I Was a Fish Revised Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Welch is, as numerous other reviewers have pointed out, an excellent writer. He is a master of the language (as well as a grammatical libertarian, which I love), he has great pacing, and he brings a wonderfully sardonic sense of humor that helps to keep heavy material from feeling like a burden. He is also a highly educated and deeply insightful narrator of his harrowing journey into madness and back again. This is one of those rare books that holds your attention with every paragraph.
This book had an additional hook for me: being a psychologist (cognitive, not clinical), I found his portrayal of mental states, both rational and delusional, to be wonderfully detailed and closely aligned with my own views on how the mind works. His narrative also matches my own observations when I try to examine how my own mind works, including those times when it doesn't work as well as I would like it to. And I, too, went through a non-religious, "spiritual" search for meaning and higher states of consciousness and arrived at the same set of conclusions: We are physical creatures who live in a purposeless, mechanical universe, and the only meaning we find in our lives is the meaning we each give to them. And that this reality is not a cause for despair, nor is it lacking in wonder. Reality is far more fascinating and wonderful and the images we project onto it.
I also enjoyed some off-hand observations about religion: For example, that religious beliefs are essentially delusions that have been codified and culturally approved (a view that I've always regarded as one of Freud's best insights), and that it's easier for religious people to get by with being crazy because we expect less from them in terms of rationality and evidence-based thinking. A cautionary note to potential readers: If these notions disturb you, you might not find the book as fascinating as I did.
The book does have its ups and downs. About a third of the way through, Welch wanders off his narrative path and takes us on a rather lengthy side trip into the mechanisms of the brain and how its operations are hijacked by drugs. I enjoyed this trip, particularly since it was such familiar ground that I could simply be a tourist and listen to what my guide had to say about it. But it may be a little too much detail for those who are enjoying the narrative and don't particularly want to delve into the complexities of neurotransmitters and psychopharmacology. I also felt that some of the material at the back of the book was gratuitous: Including his verbatim medical records didn't add much to his already vivid descriptions of his diagnoses and treatments, and the essays by others who have ventured into acid land didn't add much either. But all these sections are easily skimmed or skipped.
At the end of the book, after the narrative is done, Welch offers his own essay on his experiences, as well as on life, the universe, and everything, and I enjoyed that one immensely. Again, much of that enjoyment doubtless came from how closely his own conclusions match my own. If he concluded that he had discovered profoundly deeper levels of consciousness, found universal truths, or touched God, I would have wondered if he was still in the grip of some of his delusions. These are all things he experienced in his altered states, and the fact that he can leave them behind and be happy with his newfound clarity is a wonderful example of reality-oriented, evidence-based living.
One technical point : For some reason, the footnotes in this book take a *long* time to come up. We're only talking 5-10 seconds (on a new Kindle Paperwhite), but these footnotes are an integral (and highly amusing) part of his story, and many of them serve as punchlines to the episodes he describes. Having to take a time out every time I reached a footnote got old real fast. Perhaps there is a way of reformatting the book that would address this problem.
The author originally posted this story online, in full. I was fascinated to read it. Seeing it in eBook form is great.
While the events that took in the story place may be the result of carelessness, the author is no fool. Without reading it, some would find it easy to dismiss this as the work of a drug addled dilettante. I assure you it is not. The writing is somewhere between David Foster Wallace (I hesitated to write that, but I wrote it) and Maddox (of "The Best Page in the Universe"). It is both serious and hilarious. It's nuanced and chaotic. It is extremely entertaining.
I celebrate his recovery and encourage him to continue writing. He certainly has the wit, as well as the writing skill to become a very successful author. Read this and see for yourself!
Finished it...I did NOT throw it across the room.
I want him to keep writing. He has a website [...] . He recently wrote about Computer Programming in the most entertaining and truthful manner I have ever read.