Saturday, 6 July 2019

Reality by Peter Kingsley

I was going to write a review about Peter Kingsley's awesome non-fiction work, Reality. But since Gregory Shaw has already produced a wonderful, deep, explanatory review of the book, and I could not reinvent that wheel and do it any real justice, I'll simply confine myself to just a few personal remarks.

First this is how Gregory Shaw leads into his review:

Reality is the culmination of Kingsley's previously published research on both Parmenides and Empedocles, and, to the surprise of no one who is familiar with his work, he holds nothing back. Reality is a brilliant and passionately written book that will strike many if not most readers as monstrous, and in the true sense: it is wondrous, portentous, even frightening. For if we read it with care Reality will undermine not only our accustomed understanding of Parmenides and Empedocles, it will undermine our habits of rational sensibility, our consensus reality, even our self-identity. As Kingsley puts it: "If you want to keep a grip on what you think you already know, you will have to dismiss what I say" (15), and he breaks scholarly convention by arguing that these ancient authors have something critically important to say to us. While his command of the primary and secondary literature is impressive and his philological insights are illuminating, Kingsley is not interested in giving us information: he wants to change us, to draw us into the initiatory spell cast by Parmenides and Empedocles....”

The thing to note is that Reality is not just dry, academic Greek philosophy, relevant only to those of a bygone age. To think that is to miss the essential point.

An initiatory and potentially transformational text (wisely-chosen words being sacred seeds), it concerns the soul, and powerful Archetypes who “live” among us and rule over us now. It concerns the very foundations of the modern Western world, the vast loss we have suffered and the indescribable mess we are in, from which there is little chance of escape, and – most importantly – the work is aimed at you – yes, YOU – the reader exiled to this graveyard in the underworld and longing to Return.

Having said that, this work might not be right for you, right now. But please at least have a look at Gregory Shaw's review.

2 comments:

  1. Hello Eric, hope you are well.

    Some of what is written here reminds me of the work of Pierre Hadot.
    Peer review of “What is Ancient Philosophy?” (Published one year before Kingsley's book)

    https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/what-is-ancient-philosophy/

    A copy of “Philosophy As A Way Of Life” has been uploaded here.

    https://archive.org/details/PierreHadotArnoldDavidsonPhilosophyAsAWayOfLifeSpiritualExercisesFromSocratesToFoucault1995

    Regards
    James Faint

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  2. Good to hear from you, and thanks for this, James. I've just ordered Catafalque. From the reviews at Goodreads, it sounds like Catafalque is an even more relentless "shocker".

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