April 1, 2008

Book Review: I'll love "Is"

The Isle of Is: A Guide to Awakening by Caroline Cottom and Thom Cronkhite (The Center Within, 2006, ISBN 978-982-98004-1-1)

This book was written by: Thom Cronkhite, who is a "medical intuitive and vibrational energy healer. [....] Apparently born "awakened," he experiences life as constant joy and peace, fully in the present"(p.189). His co-author, Caroline Cottom is the "published author of numerous articles, essays, short stories, and poetry,"(p.190). This book will no doubt be of interest to all of the readers that have been avidly tracking her career since her time spent as former director of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and the U.S. Comprehensive Test Ban Coalition made her a household name.

What is in this book: A heaping pile of metaphor, fat stacks of allegory, and dripping puddles of symbolism. This book seeks to take "wisdom that humans have known about for a very long time," (p.9) and to present in the story of a journey that will assist the reader in "uncovering that state of being where peace and joy already exist, throughout time and space" (p.10). The journey involves a boat, a swamp, a mountain, and some talking gnomes.
This book also contains a series of writing exercises. The narrator is given a pen (which "shall be your Wand") and an inkwell (signifying "The Well, which is the silence within") on page 16. The reader is instructed to "take the Wand" or "go to the Well" at various times to answer questions like:

"What is one thing in your life that you can't imagine being grateful for?" (p.35)
"What distractions do I use when I don't wish to feel my feelings. And what feelings am I hoping not to feel?" (p.106)
"What stories, songs, fairytales, or movies did you resonate with as a young person?" (p.127)

Since these tools have been given to the reader metaphorically, the writing exercises can also be done metaphorically, which saves a lot of time. (However, for those keeping score at home, the correct answers in no particular order are: gout, arson/jealousy, and Hudson Hawk.)

What is not in this book? Conceit. "The narrator refers to him or herself as "we" because the word "I" solidifies the ego, whereas the word "we" removes us from the egoic bond"(p.181). It is a bold move that could have alienated the reader and ended up sounding like a schizophrenic quoting Faulkner on a bad day, but has been completely vindicated by passages like "We are wearing the captain's hat, and Is-is sits on our shoulder!" (p.176).

Would you recommend this book to Steven Seagal? Yes, he can use a break from the isle of has-been.

Would you recommend this book to Pathmark customers? No. They already know that to "Go fresh, go local," they should search the aisles, not the isles.

What was interesting about this book? The book comes with an audio version on CD, which is perfect for people who want to awaken themselves so that they can live in a place where they no longer value their material possessions and the crude distractions of popular entertainment.

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