Wisdom 2.0-a book review

Have spent the past 2 weeks with only occasional Internet access and anticipate perhaps another week likewise. Being accustomed to connection on demand, and fairly fast at that, this interlude of a few minutes of dial-up here and there and occasional trips to the cybercafe has been a little frustrating.

It is fortuitous then, that I have a book at hand that addresses this and other technological challenges.

Wisdom 2.0 by Soren Gordhamer carries with it the subtitle “Ancient secrets for the creative and constantly connected.”  It is thanks to Nathan DeMontigny at Precious Metal blog that I have gotten a copy of it. He ran a contest at his blog and named me as one of the winners. I appreciate that, especially at this moment.

I’ve had the book for a while and read it the first time in a rather haphazard fashion due to circumstances of traveling, family things and a lot of other stuff.  It was one of those dip in and out sort of reads that doesn’t really get at the point completely. Rather like cruising through a bunch of stuff on-line but not stopping too long anywhere. By this approach I didn’t really get this book. It seemed kind of “light” and appeared to be a lot of recounting of Mr. Gordhamer’s encounters with the well-known in the fields of business, sports, entertainment and Buddhist gatherings.

Having made the mea culpa about my inattention to reading it the first time, I’ve now given it a more serious second read.

There’s some pretty interesting stuff here. In the introduction the author states:

In this realization at just how much various technologies ruled my life, I was not (and am still not) willing to renounce my interest in or use of them. However, I am also not willing to let them rule my life in the way they did. I sought a middle way, a means to use the great technologies of our age creatively and effectively instead of habitually. I wondered where to look for guidance in this effort and discovered that ancient wisdom traditions such as Zen had much to offer the subject. To tackle this formidable task, I realized that I had to merge my two interest areas: the path of technology and the path of wisdom. Out of that exploration, this book emerged. It offers tools that I have by no means mastered, but have found great use in implementing and practicing.

That sums up the purpose of the book pretty well and it does deliver on that objective. The main thing I got out of the book was the realization that technology has become an unconscious habit for me. The methods of communication vary from phone to text to blog to email to in person. I never differentiated them all that much before. Since I do tend to talk in much the same fashion that I write email and much of my blogging, the output of all of these has taken on a generalized tone of communication to my way of thinking-or not really thinking about it at all actually. But they really are each quite different in their own way.  By attending to the differences a person comes to understand their relationship to the technology of communication and the use of technology as an intermediary in the communication process.

Much of what is discussed in the book relates to this habitual attitude towards technology and the inattention that it gets. Timely I’d say.

And he talks writes about the obsessiveness that accompanies this inattention to communications technology. I wrote “talks” when I meant writes-talking and writing are not the same thing even though I still want to think so by habit.

The book is divided into 4 sections each with numerous short chapters addressing a different aspect of relationship between one’s self and technology. And each section and each chapter includes a number of useful exercises to overcome some of the specifics addressed. For example one chapter discusses getting stuck. This can mean anything from writer’s block to just dealing with the frustration of waiting for something to happen so we can move on to the next step of a project. Most people struggle against the stuckness or try to distract themselves from it rather than just see it as it is. Two suggestions are offered. First one can examine the tendency to personalize the situation ie. “Why is this happening to me?” and similar thoughts and substituting a more factual thought “A feeling of stuckness is present.” From that can come an opening to learning from the situation and examining it from a less frenetic point of view.

Much of the advice is similar and applied to such things as developing creativity, dealing with stress and so forth.

Lessons and quotes are taken from a variety of sources including sports figures, scientists, artists like Picasso, Buddhist sources, business leaders like Steve Jobs, Krishnamurti, Gurdjieff, and (cringe) Eckhart Tolle. Some are interspersed without much reference to the context. It seemed like they were there for the name more than for the information they added to the section in question in some cases.

I found the references to Tolle a little irritating (like Tolle himself) in their gushiness. Just because someone knows how to parley themselves into the spotlight doesn’t mean they are the next avatar of Vishnu or something. It’s not that hard to become famous. Even a famous Buddhist or other spiritual leader. Wait for the next post and I’ll tell you how-in a dozen easy lessons.(Really!)

The style of the writing reminded me of Facebook with comments and seemingly unrelated quotes and stuff just inserted here and there.  And some pages have 5 or more fonts including italics and bold. And the style is a little inconsistent. Mostly it is in a chatty vernacular style and shows personal situations that are familiar to most North Americans. But sometimes it drifts off into a more story telling kind of flow and then jumps into a kind of tech manual sort of instructional tone. And then there is the word shit. 28 times by my count. Even more than in Brad Warner’s latest tome. It sometimes seemed to be written more for effect than for literary necessity. Normal shit I can handle but gratuitous shit might well be dispensed with.

So those inconsistencies bugged me a little. The early mea culpa is now also an authora culpa-yeah I invent my own pseudo-Latin phrases when necessary.

A few quibbles with various inconsistencies and some of the references.

But all in all bringing unconscious habits, suppositions and externally controlling conditions into consciousness so that they may be acknowledged, examined and dealt with if necessary is a good thing.  From that perspective it was worth my time to go through this book with some attention. I will pass my copy on to someone I know who could use a little bit of perspective on these issues. I’d even buy the book for that purpose too.

Here’s the Amazon link
Wisdom 2.0


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