Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rosy's top 7 picks for finding the meaning to your life

1. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking 
For a dose of relativity as well as an understanding of the fundamental universe that we happen to be bobbing about in. It also provides a subtle observation that we as observers are rather unique and at the very least should take some pleasure in being able to do so. Shutting your eyes to what the universe is just because you don't think you'll like what you see is a mistake as there are many wonders out there and many a confusing puzzle to be puzzled out. The universe provides us with endless entertainment and frustration and it is unlikely we'll reach any of the big answers soon despite our progress in observing accurately.

2. Gray's Anatomy by Henry Gray
For a look into ourselves and an understanding of how the body treats us all as we live. Largely, the body doesn't care what you have in mind for it and just does what it does. This can lead you to feeling like your body has betrayed you at times or possibly like you only really exist in your mind but still, accept it for what it is and don't try to make it into something it isn't. Far too many attempts to do so that aren't as medical treatments don't end well.

3. The Hitchhiker's series by Douglas Adams
For the realisation that even if you find the true meaning of life you aren't likely to bloody well understand it anyway so don't waste too much time searching for ultimate truths and meanings. Create your own because it is likely to be just as valid while being more understandable.

4. Oliver Sack's many books on the brain (but my favourite is The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat)
For an understanding that not everyone views the world the same way you do for very unphilosophical reasons. Sometimes it isn't a clash of theories but more a clash of perceptions.

5. The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz
For a greater understanding of neuroplasticity than provided by Oliver Sack's works. It is possible to tinker with your own mind and change your way of life completely. We aren't static creatures and even as oldies we can learn new tricks. Anyone who doesn't like something about their habits or their perspective on life or even the way they deal with life can tinker away with their own mind. While you can't rewrite your entire mind, memories, life and personality it is possible to change enough to make your life better (or worse) according to your wishes.

6. Anything on Chaos Theory, Fractals and Quantum Mechanics (Don't stop at one book because it is surprising where chaos can take you.)
For an understanding that life is largely going to be out of your control whether you like it or not so don't waste too much energy trying to control everything. Down to the fundamentals structure of the universe chaos and entropy will have their way. I say read anything as I largely picked up chaos theory by reading anything and everything as well as sneaking into university Physics lectures I hadn't and never will pay for. Also, for an understanding that out of chaos order can spring and that the forces that govern nature are rather gentle in their strict approach. Life is freeform art within the limits of possibility and probability.

7. Anything describing the Postmodern History Theory but start with Willie Thompson's Postmodernism and History (Theory and History)
For an understanding that our differing viewpoints on events, our backgrounds, our environment and situation and our intentions all impact on our perceptions of truth and our writing of truth. There is no absolute truth but what we insist upon and even then there will be someone else about insisting on another absolute truth and neither has to be wrong (or both are wrong). In fact, the blacks and whites of right and wrong, truth and lie, fact and fiction all become a wishy-washy indefinable grey under the weight of multitudes of different viewpoints. So don't take your own opinions or those of others too seriously unless they threaten your existence or preferred way of life. Even then, you preferred way of life might only be so because you haven't experienced something else being offered so you don't always have to say "No, I'll stick with what I've got".

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