- File Size: 1205 KB
- Print Length: 535 pages
- Publisher: The Mouse That Spins (February 20, 2017)
- Publication Date: February 20, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01NB0H2FZ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,785 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
My Years of Magical Thinking Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Ramsey Dukes is the most well known pen name of Lionel Snell, the book's author --This text refers to the paperback edition.
"My Years of Magical Thinking by Lionel Snell, aka Ramsey Dukes... who must surely rank as the finest metamagical theoretician currently, or perhaps ever, incarnate. In this masterly summary and exposition of a lifetime of magical thought, Lionel muses deeply on the relationships between art, science, magic, and religion. You may not find much of immediate practical use in this tome but it certainly expands and contextualises the magical way of thinking as a distinct and increasingly relevant way of relating to perceived reality. Lionel told me he had tried to write about magic for the general reader in this latest book. He may achieve that, in places he digresses into magical thinking strategies in the dark arts of politics and marketing, yet I will always regard him as 'The Thinking Magician's Magician', the wizard who looks into the ideas behind the ideas, and as such he may well go down in history as the 20th & 21st century's version of Paracelsus." Peter Carroll (Author: Liber Null, Psychonaut, Epoch etc) --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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Thundersqueak is best treatise on politics which I ever read, so section 26.17 Magical thinking and “Post-Truth Politics” was especially superb for me.
Lionel's writing is light-hearted, but don’t mistake yourself – this is a “hardcore” book about magical thinking and can change your mental framing, maybe even your life, in many ways.
“This book presents a series of thought experiments. In fact the whole book is one big thought experiment: a suite of programs for readers to run in their own minds. Not to judge if they are true, or good, or even beautiful, but whether they offer a feeling of experience that is somehow bigger and more whole.
The ability to choose between different sets of rules and play one’s own game is what characterizes magical thinking as a an advance on religious or scientific thinking, rather than a backward step. It can accelerate human evolution by developing new modes and levels of experience.
The criterion of choice is no longer “goodness” or “truth” but what offers a feeling of growth towards wholeness – and that is why the choice is so much more open. Goodness (sought by religion) is hierarchal: even if the seeker has decided that all the world’s religions are good, it would still be bad to choose any other than the most good. Truth (sought by science) is not so hierarchical, but it is still exclusive: even if the seeker decides that all scientific theories appear to be true, combining two or more mutually contradictory theories could not itself be true. Selection towards wholeness (sought by magic), however, can embrace contradiction as well as diversity.”
Lionell Snell states that this book is aimed at an audience who haven’t yet read his writings, in particular people who have rejected magic, or just haven’t thought that much about it. The main question explored is “what happened to the Enlightenment?”… personally, I remember growing up thinking that human knowledge and society was building up to something, leading in a direction of understanding more clearly, and building to some Truth. However, the more that science explores, the more it uncovers paradoxes that seem to require mind-bending to reconcile; meanwhile, the enlightened truths discovered through scientific research seem to be discarded or denied when they are economically inconvenient… and, we seem to be currently in a world where people are each entitled to their own truth (‘alternative facts’), no matter how contradictory they are or how much expertise they are grounded in. Has the Enlightenment quest for Truth, Objectivity, and Absolute Knowledge failed? Or, is it necessary for science to at some point transform into something else completely, if it acknowledges that the paradoxes it uncovers can’t always be ignored… and instead, that in some way fear of contradictions can be resolved through a pursuit of wholeness, that values temporary usefulness, rather than Absolute Truth?
For people who’ve read the work of Lionel Snell (formerly writing most often in the pen name Ramsey Dukes), this book does summarize ideas explored in his earlier writing, but also extends and deepens the exploration – I personally found new value in the book through it’s more nuanced exploration of the differences between religion and magic (for example… when people who practice rituals written by other people, are they performing magic? Or, is it a form of religion if they’ve accepted and follow ideas/practices that come from some exterior authority?)
The book is written for what Lionel conceives of as a 'mainstream' readership, but I think that as usual his largely esoteric focus will mean that it's mostly magicians who will read this. A pity, because Scientists, Artists and Religionists might get a lot from it too. If you've never read Ramsey Dukes, by all means start here.
Top international reviews
Readers expecting the usual academic discourse will be thrown astray, because the author brilliantly articulates his argument using his own epistemology, giving an example of the efficiency of his model.
Lionel Snell once again delivers a complex philosophical argument with the kind wit, good humour and original perspective that his readers have been used to enjoying over the years. However, this particular book is more 'anthropological and social' compared to his more 'psychological' works of the past. His demonstration places a greater accent on Cultures than on Cognition. While MYMT is broad and stands alone pretty well, I would recommend complementing this book with previous works (under the pseudonym Ramsey Dukes) for added depth in applications at the individual level.
Despite its gentlemanly tone, I enjoyed the incisiveness with which this book simultaneously derailed and reframed the dominant narratives of our day: naive realists and post-structuralists, alt-rights and intersectionalists, post-truth and identity politics - and pretty much all of the pseudo-intellectual junk that's been thrown at the world for the past decade or so.
This epistemological model, revolving around four cultures of thinking, not only transcends the debates of our times, but also proposes a solution that aims to strengthen all individuals involved. Progress as a cycle of improvement, rather than a finite linear hierarchy.
If being a laboratory rat does not make you a scientist, in what position are you in relation to magic when unaware of how it plays out in your life?