Swedenborg: Introduction to His Life and Ideas, Gary Lachman, Tarcher/Penguin, New York, paper back, page 181, $16.95.
The book under review is because Gary Lachman wrote it, and it is not so much the subject matter, in this case Swedenborg, but the author that I'm focusing on. I believe the first book I read by Gary Lachman was Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work. There was one thing that bothered me about Steiner. Despite his departure from the Theosophical Society, Steiner maintained his interest in Theosophy throughout his life. Finally after reading Lachman's book, I understood much more clearly the bigger picture, the details of the split, and why it occurred. I found that Gary Lachman was able to cut through the clutter and get to the key parts. I have valued all his books ever since.
The next book by Gary Lachman I read was Jung the Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung's Life and Teachings. Even though I had read extensively on Jung, Lachman's book, containing slightly less than 300 pages, was a very compact summary of the type of information I needed to correlate my information. With his insights, I was able to make new connections.
So, it only was a matter of time before I would read other Lachman books that many theosophists would find of interest. Hence, the one now under review is like his other publications. It is an introduction to the life and ideas of Swedenborg. I'm working on the assumption here that the readers of Notable Books know something about Swedenborg. I do want you to focus on Gary Lachman's approach.
It is a concise, engrossing, and enlightening book that explores every important esoteric item in the life of Swedenborg. You may not always agree with Lachman's conclusions, but you will learn a lot and do some critical thinking as you move through the material.
The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong, Guido Mina di Sospiro, Quest Books (TPH), Wheaton, IL , paper back, page 116, 2015, $16.95.
This is a book that I have been wanting to review since it came out. I have played table tennis (ping-pong) most of my life, and I have often thought of it as being quite metaphysical. I still have fond memories of my first weekend seminar at Olcott, the headquarters of the TS in America, many years ago and seeing a ping-pong table downstairs in the dining room. I just knew I was going to fit right in!
The subtitle of the book comes closer to substance of the text when we read: "Table Tennis As A Journey of Self-Discovery." This rings true for me and the book revolves around this theme. It is about a lot of things: forehand, pips, spin, military theory, Taoism, and non-linear thinking. In the end it is about creating a 'Community' that would not interact otherwise. Thinking back to my days as a professor in higher education, I bonded with more undergraduates over a game of table tennis than in any lecture hall. In going to almost any scholarly conference, you didn't have to look too hard to find a place to play a game or two. Often, the conference discussion continued as we batted the ball back and forth.
I recall how tangential topics became part of our banter, and that is where the metaphysics entered the picture. It was in a friendly game at Olcott that I first heard about Edith Stein. She did her doctoral under the philosopher Husserl and then became a nun in the Carmelite tradition. I found that so astounding, that I have spent many years reading and researching her truly interesting life.
If you don't play ping-pong, that's okay. You'll learn a lot of interesting items about things you didn't know from this author. I don't think it will improve your top spin, but it will help you realize that you're not wasting time batting a ball around when you should be studying some esoteric topic.
Notable books is a series compiled by Dr. Ralph Hannon.