November 15, 2008

Award-Winning Excavations

Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Warner Books, 1998, ISBN: 0-446-52413-1)

This book was written by: Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance and a woman who has a healthy, well-balanced attitude about men and her relationships with them. “I have always overwhelmed men,” she writes, “I used to think it was because I was lacking. Now I realize I’m the living embodiment of abundance – too much woman, too much love, too much passion”(p.163).

What is in this book: In this book, “You’re embarking on an archaeological dig to excavate your Authentic Self. Our journey has brought us to the sacred site of your soul. The choice of archaeology as our fantasy is very deliberate, because women are born incurable romantics”(p.20). Finding your authentic self “is not easy; if it were, everybody would be doing it,” but Ms. Ban Breathnach notes that “It’s been my observation that only women of great discernment, women with no time to lose or squander, and women who frequently feel too close to the edge for comfort, are the best candidates. Women very much like you and me”(p.8). At the end of each chapter are a set of questions, exercises for the reader assigned as field work. “As the archaeologist of your Self, it will be necessary for you to do some digging in the verdant field of your past, in order to aid the excavation process” (p.14).

What is not in this book: Advice for dudes. Some of the greatest luminaries in archaeology (Heinrich Schliemann, Howard Carter, Indiana Jones) may have been men, but this is a book for women—a fact you may recognize when Ban Breathnach discusses how the movie Bridges of Madison County was “a perfect example—not of passion, but of the habitual betrayal of our authenticity that leaves us lonely, vulnerable, and aching for anything other than a self-imposed sentence of life imprisonment”(p.147). It becomes even more evident when you read about how “You are sent into the Wilderness for one reason, and one reason only: Woman, find thyself”(p.177). Men shouldn’t read this book, and they certainly shouldn’t enjoy it, because “Men treat you badly when they don’t love you, but they treat you even worse when they don’t want to”(p.180, emphasis the author’s).

Would you recommend this book to Wonder Woman? Not really. I’d rather she spent her time reading books about the due process of law, and maybe brush up on some interrogation techniques in case her lasso of truth ever goes on the fritz. Lynda Carter might want to check this book out, though.

Would you recommend this book to a Sandhog? I... I can’t do it. I’m not going to use this space to make a crude, excavation-related double entendre about women and "heavy equipment." No matter how much I want to. I'm better than that.

What was interesting about this book? Sarah Ban Breathnach is a very spiritual writer. “Before making major decisions, I take my question to the spiritual world for consultation”(p.226). Creating the book itself appears to have been an almost religious experience, as she notes that “I laughed and cried as I wrote this book, just as women laugh and cry when we give birth. And I sense that this will be your experience as well”(p.14). Now that it has been completed, Ms. Ban Breathnach reflects on the process by admitting that “I trust the unseen more than the visible, which is why I have come to rely on the spiritual secret that ‘The Book’ always knows more than I do, thank God”(p.327).

Special Award
For the first time ever, Bitterly Books would like to present the WTF Award for Excellence in Literary Juxtaposition to Sarah Ban Breathnach for the following paragraph (p.78, emphasis the author’s):

One of the more horrific ways to die is through internal hemorrhaging, the uncontrollable bleeding buried in the body’s cavity. What makes this particular exit route even more insidious is that internal hemorrhaging is most often painless to the victim. There are no visible clues signaling the tiny trickle that starts when a small blood vessel begins to leak until it’s become a fatal flood, “a blood-stemmed tide,” as the Irish poet W. B. Yeats so beautifully describes destiny.

In his original poem "The Second Coming," Yeats writes of a "blood-dimmed tide." Because of her bold re-interpretation of the poet's original language and her daring linkage of Irish poetry, destiny, and death by internal bleeding, it is with great pride that Bitterly Books announces Sarah Ban Breathnach as the first ever recipient of the WTF Award for Excellence in Literary Juxtaposition. Ms. Ban Breathnach, you’ve earned it.

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November 1, 2008

Trust Me: This Book Is Useful

Never Be Lied to Again: How to get the truth in 5 minutes or less in any conversation or situation by David J. Lieberman, PhD (St. Martin’s Press, 1998, ISBN: 0-312-18634-7)

This book was written by: Dr. David J. Lieberman, who is “affectionately referred to as a hired gun,”(p.2) and singularly adept at marketing this book to the intensely paranoid. “When you know a person’s true intent, you have the power to control the situation,”(p.1) writes Lieberman, who also says that one of his clients described his techniques as “like having a man inside their camp—an outpost in their head” (p.1).

What is in this book: Ways that people will lie to you, and ways that you can see through their lies to draw the truth from them. You may not have known that “the person who is lying will probably slouch […] he may place physical objects between himself and his accuser”(p.26), and that other common signals to look for include poor posture(p.23), being uncomfortable with silence (p.31), not giving a direct answer (p.32), or an obsession with establishing a contrary position—e.g., “the man who claims to be adamantly against prostitution may be covering up his true feelings, which are the exact opposite”(p.36). Dr. Lieberman also directs readers to look for a lack of eye contact (p.13), mumbling, (p.24) and “take note if he is trying to control his breathing to calm himself”(p.54). This, along with the warning to “look for signs of distraction and an inability to pay attention to what’s going on”(p.55) definitively prove that people who claim to have ADD, social anxiety, or asthma are just filthy liars.

What is not in this book: A blueprint for torture (wink, wink). Dr. Lieberman’s methods to get at the truth include eleven “attack sequences” followed by eleven “silver bullets.” “If terms like arsenal, weapons, and bullets seem warlike, it’s understandable. But they’re thoroughly appropriate considering the situation [….] You need to see the process of detecting deceit for what it really is—a verbal battle”(p.67). In his opening note to readers, Dr. Lieberman cautions that his techniques could be used for ill, but “to live in a world where information is distributed based upon the damage that can be caused by the lowest common denominator is to spiral away from progress and away from hope”(p.xiii). He also warns that some of his techniques, especially the one called Heaven and Hell, “should be used as a last resort. It is with high hope and expectation that this and all of the other processes be practiced with judgment, common sense, and decency”(p.165). Of course, “if you want to influence a person’s behavior, you need to attach pain to the direction you don’t want him to move in”(p.180).

Would you recommend this book to Scarlett O’Hara? Yes, if only so she could dramatically shake her fist at the sky and scream, “As God is my witness, I will never be lied to again!

Would you recommend this book to Maury Povich? No, if the information in this book became common knowledge, his pool of guests would shrink dramatically, so he'd probably try to have all copies of this book destroyed.

What was interesting about this book? Dr. Lieberman’s hypothetical situations for using his techniques in romantic relationships. He addresses the obvious questions of whether your partner really loves you, but also sketches a scene where Pamela discovers that “she has contracted the herpes virus”(p.95). Because she is familiar with the techniques in this book, “she calls both guys up and casually informs them that she just found out that she has herpes. The responses she got led her straight to the culprit”(p.96). He also discusses a situation where “during their first intimate encounter, Randy asks his new girlfriend if she’s ever been tested for AIDS. [….] If she was concerned about her health, as her answer implied, then she would have asked him the same question”(p.44).

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