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April 4 2012 4 04 /04 /April /2012 20:55



A lot has happened since September 2011, which was the ostensible "official" date of publication for Making Sense of Us (hereafter simply MSOU). Talk about 'the best laid plans...", though! Our attempts to get reviews in the major critical sources both here in Canada, and also in the UK and the US were unsuccessful, so the book became available in both hard copies and an e-book version (Kindle) without any prior helpful publicity. UGH!!


Never mind. With the help and encouragement from both David Litvak and the people at Granville Island Publishing. (Thanks, Jo, and Alisha and Pat!) I proceeded nevertheless with public readings, first at the Vancouver Public Library (Kitsilano branch; thanks, Michelle!) and subsequently in Kamloops (Thanks, Andrée!), then at Village Books in Fairhaven, Washington, and that wonderful bookstore, Third Place Books in Seattle. The outcome of all this actvity was a grand total of fifteen books sold, (!) but also a wonderful connection with some delightful and thoughtful people . . .


I think you can probably guess how difficult it is to have something important to share with the world, and then find that very few people seem to want to know about it!


It's interesting and ironic that much of the content of the book itself deals with issues of open- and closed-mindedness, so I should have been amply prepared for the lack of public interest. There's quite a difference between being cognitively prepared and emotionally prepared, though!


Enough of the personal interest comment, however . . . It's more important to share with you more about the issues dealt with in the book, and their connection with a great deal of other thoughtful activity that is occurring all over the world, and yet is probably invisible to all but a relatively few people. The rest of this post is about making connections with those people. Read on!


One of the most important developments in thinking that I have (although only belatedly) come across, is contained in the various published works of the truly great British moral philosopher, Mary Midgley. Her publisher, Routledge, produced a wonderful compendium volume of her works in The Essential Mary Midgley, but what I have found most immediately useful is her splendid 2010 publication (not included in the compendium collection) called The Solitary Self : Darwin and the Selfish Gene (Acumen Books, ISBN 978-1-84465-253-2). It is a dense discussion of the manner in which the polarities of thought exemplified in Hobbes, and subsequently neo-Darwinism, have contributed to our alienating us both from ourselves and from one another. (You may want to take these comments with a pinch of salt, though! Mary very generously allowed me to use her initial reaction to my own book as an endorsement that now appears on the back cover.)


Pretty much simultaneously with my encounter with Mary Midgley, I discovered the work of one of the premium sociological thinkers in the world today, Zygmunt Bauman. (I had discovered him through trying to find out more about the riots In England in August 2011. Not only has he written extensively, but there is now a substantial critical literature commenting on his work. The best way of starting to become connected with his ideas is probably simply to go to Google . . .)


Not surprisingly, Bauman's work takes a rather different slant on the issues identified in MSOU than I do, but he is eminently worth reading. The easiest entry into his constantly evolving world view is probably via The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman by Keith Tester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, ISBN 1-4039-1271-8). Another excellent overview is Peter Beilharz's Zygmunt Bauman: Dialectic of Modernity, (Sage Publications, 2000. ISBN 0-7619-6735-4 (pbk)) More up-to-date developments are continuously posted on the Zygmunt Bauman Institute website.


Well, I guess that's about it for this first dabbling my toe into the world of internet communications! As those of you who have indeed read MSOU know, I am of a generation that finds this explosion of potential communicability almost overwhelming, but I must say it is wonderful to be able to share my thoughts with potential (and actual) readers more informally, and without the stress of constant editorial revising! Please believe me when I say that the ideas in my book are important enough for all of us to participate in debating them. I trust that this Overblog will encourage you to join in. It will help enormously if you've become acquainted with the book first, but by all means ask your questions here first if you are uneasy about what your $20.00 Canadian or US will buy you!


In the meantime, very grateful thanks to my daughter Wendy for helping me to overcome my conditioned fear of wider exposure!


More to come . . .





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