Thoughts on: Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

This was the right book at the wrong time for me. I can see myself loving it 10 years ago, when I was had a more gloomy and cynical outlook on life, I can hear myself saying, “This book really gets it”. (It don’t miss those days. 😂)

While I can still see the qualities; the complexity, the prose etc.., I just don’t connnect fully with the existential crisis of the middle aged misanthrope, Haller, around which the story revolves.

Part of me wanted to go up to him and shake some life into the man. “Wake up, go dance! Have a laugh for Christ sake!” And well.. thats just what the characters around him tried to do, whether it was Mozart and Goete (we are dealing with a mix of fictive and historical character in true Hesse fashion..) or Hellers object of desire, a girl named Hermine (his anima?!).

📝 “You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live”.

📝 “For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity.” This reminds me of McCandless notion from ‘Into The Wild.

⚖️ VERDICT:

I love me some Hesse— Siddhartha and Damien being two of my favorite novels of all time—but I didn’t fully resonate with Steppenwolf. It’s a solid classic nevertheless!

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

We need to laugh more! Have you ever gauged how many times you laugh out loud each day?

Which is your favorite Hermann Hesse novels?

3/5

(ps… looking for my next classic. I’m looking for recommendations!)

Check out my Reading Lists for more great books!

Book Notes on Aging and Dying

Nothing last forever. Here are a few great notes on aging from my reading the last couple of years. Memento Mori.


📝 “By becoming deeply aware of our mortality, we intensify our experience of every aspect of life.” – Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature

📝 “No one set value on time. All use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But see how these same people clasp to the knees of physicians when they fall ill and the danger of death draws nearer” – Seneca, On the Shortness of life.

📝 People have different sensitivity to caffeine. Older people are more sensitive in general.

Notes from Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker.

📝 A deadly gene could survive in the gene pool by inflicting its damage only after a person reaches an old age, where the victim already produced it’s offspring. Like Cancer.

Notes from The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins

📝 John D. Rockefeller was obsessed with his health and set a goal for himself to live until he was 100 years old. He died at 97.

Notes from Titan, Ron Chernow

📝 “Whatever the cause of the inverse association between body size and aging, it seems to be found in all mammals” Bigger animals live longer.

Notes from Mutants, Armand Marie Leroi

📝We know intellectually that we are going to die. But we don’t really feel it. We repress the affects of death to be able to function normally. – The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker


What are your favorite quote on the subject?

Notes from a Year of Reading – Psychology

📝 “It takes a lot of courage to take the unconscious seriously and to tackle the problems it raises.”

– Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols.

📝 “As a rule, whatever we don’t deal with in our lives we pass on to our children.”

– Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

📝 “Sometime educated guesses can be made about the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what matters adults irrationally lose their tempers over”

– Clarissa Estes Pinkola, Women Who Run with the Wolves.

📝 “Those with a negative attitude tend to operate from a basic position of fear towards life.They unconsciously want to limit what they see and experience to give them more control.”

– Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature.

📝 “In other words, the final terror of self-consciousness is the knowledge of one’s own death, which is the peculiar sentence on man alone in the animal

kingdom.”

– Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death.


I’m working my way through my notes from the last 12 months. I thought it would be interesting to share my notes by subject rather than per book.

What’s your next read on human psychology?

(If you don’t have one. Pick any of the books above and you’ll be good!👌🏻😉)

Thoughts on: “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker

We know we are going to die someday. This is the unique problem of the conscious animal. We know it but we don’t feel it because we need to repress this truth in order to function.

So what to do? It’s really hard to accept that we are just worms in the dirt. Especially when our nature is so paradoxical; the body being so animalistic and limited yet our minds so godlike and boundless. We are gods with anuses.

What we need is a lie. A vital and grand one that we can always rely on. We need something that transcends us, some system of ideas and powers that embed us, whether it’s a flag, the proletariat, a guru or religion.

Kierkegaard, Freud, Jung, Maslow and Fromm are some of the characters you’ll get to familiarize with during this journey. I felt like each chapter demanded a following period of reflection. I was absolutely taken aback by this book.

freud meme


Some notes:

📝 “I believe that those who speculate that a full apprehension of man’s condition would drive him insane are right, quite literally right.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. 😨

📝 Man is beaten down by life and the world; “beaten because he fails to face up to the existential truth of his situation— the truth that he is an inner symbolic self, which signifies a certain freedom, and that he is bound by a finite body, which limits that freedom.”

📝 How much of experience do we let in?The schizophrenic allow for too much; the depressed too little.

📝 Anxiety is the possibility of freedom.

📝 Ideally man is “…fully in the world on its terms and wholly beyond the world in his trust in the invisible dimension.”


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

If life is an insurmountable problem, and we can’t live with the truth of our situation then the question is on what level of illusion to live our lives on.

This book really checks all the boxes for me:

✅It’s complex and nuanced – yet I don’t feel totally lost (expect that fu*king castration complex.. I just do get it…🤷‍♂️ ✂️ )

✅ I started the book being one person, came out of it as another. (SWIPE for example 😉)

✅ Checked one book of my reading list – added a dozen!

Loved it!

5/5

Find more fantastic books in my Reading Lists or get this at Amazon

Thoughts on: “The Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene

Robert Greene puts a lifetime of studies of human nature into one huge and important volume.

This book covers: character, toxic personality types, narcissism, cognitive biases, archetypes, childhood trauma, desirability, shortsightedness, the Shadow, attitude, group dynamics, leadership, persistence, fearlessness, purpose. The list goes on…

📝 You are more like than Louise XVI than you think!

📝 What you and me try tell ourselves: “I’m different. I’m more rational than others, more ethical as well.”

📝 ”If possible, avoid deep contact with those whose time frame is narrow, who are in continual react mode, and strive to associate with those with an expanded awareness of time”

📝 Keep in mind that your expectations of people are communicated nonverbally. Teachers expecting greater things from their students, without saying anything, have positive effects on their work.

📝 People with negative attitudes uses this world view to narrow their experience. It give a sense of control in a world of uncertainty.

📝 Cynicism as Purpose: “Man would rather have the void as purpose than be void of purpose”. Behind this false purpose is the great fear of trying and failing, of standing out and being ridiculed… Cynicism acts as consolidation for lack of accomplishment.

📝 Self-doubt makes us surrender inwardly before we surrender outwardly. Remember this: almost nothing in the world can resist persistent human energy.

💪🏻 ACTION:

The last chapter talks about the importance of mediating on our mortality. This prompted me to commit to a new experiment; to pretend it’s my last day in life. More info coming I separate post!💀 ⚰️

🎲 VERDICT:

This book is great (Book of the Year?)! And practical; I almost don’t want you to read it since I want my newly found super powers for myself. It has already helped me wrap my head around what’s really been going on in situations with people that, until now, had left me dumbfounded.

5/5

Find other fascinating books in my reading lists!

It’s Out of Control! What The Laws of Human Nature will do to your To-Read-List

Is your To-Read-List (TRL) growing faster the more effort you put into working your way through it? I know the feeling – and I feel it might be especially true for non-fiction readers.

Every good book opens up your eyes for new topics and bombards you with new exciting ideas of what to read up on next (as illustrated above 🤪), filling your TBR to the brink.

Today I’m presenting some new additions to my TRL, courtisey of the book The Laws Of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

📖 The Tigress of Forli by E. Lev 📖

Caterina Sforza, she seems to be such a bad ass warrior countess! Greene uses her as an example of how masculine/feminine aspects of one’s personality, when well integrated, leads to more authenticity. “In the theater of life, expand the roles you play.”

📖 Born Red by Gao Yuan 📖

Gao’s account of the Cultural revolution in China and how he and his fellow students “made revolution”. Greene uses this story as an example of how our personalities changes in a group context.

📖 Chekhov by Henri Troyat 📖

Chekhov, Russian play-write, is brought up by Greene as an example of how you can change your circumstances by changing you attitude. “He made a vow to himself: No more bowing and apologizing to people; no more complaining and blaming; no more disorderly living and wasted time.” Now I just want to know more about this exciting fellow!

What are you reading and what additions is that book adding to your To-Read-Lists? 🤔

The Laws of Human Nature: Discover Your Dark Side

Recall Britney’s 2008 breakdown, Clinton’s sex affair and the behavior Nixon’s behavior in the White House before his resignation?

“When we experience those moments when people reveal their dark side, we see something come over their face; their voice and body language of altered— almost as if another person is confronting us, the features of the upset child suddenly becoming visible” – Robert Greene

Carl Jung called it The Shadow.

The Shadow consists of all the qualities we try to deny about ourselves and repress. You can try really hard to cover up these aspects but they will pop back up sooner of later. You can see glimpses of it showing from people in moments of stress.

“You can throw out Nature with a pitchfork, but she’ll always come back.”

Hiding The Shadow side of yourself takes energy. You must be adept to see when The Shadow is appearing in yourself and others.

The Shadow also tends to show more with age. “Later in life we tire of the masks we have been wearing, and the leakage is greater.”

I’ve started to study Jung but I haven’t read up on the concept of The Shadow yet. What I’ve got from The Laws of Human Nature is an introduction that left me wanting to know more – What reading do you recommend on the Shadow and Shadow work? Let’s confront our dark sides! 🤔

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: “Demian” – Hermann Hesse

A short and moody novel that revolves around young Sinclair and the difficult task of finding oneself. Growing up in a protected and pious middle class home he eventually has to face the real world. Sinclair gets a new mysterious classmates, Demian, who guides him to detach and revolt from the superficial world of form and awaken to his true self.

📝 “All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?”

This is most memorable fictional book I’ve read this year. A coming of age story with strong connections to Jungian psychology and symbolism. It came to me at a perfect time; Since I, much like Hesse did when writing the book, just “began to explore the writings of Freud and Jung on dreams and archetypes”. Something that really influenced Hesses writings.

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: “12 Rules for Life” – Jordan Peterson

Life is suffering. How do we deal with that?! We face it, we bare it. Hell is a bottomless pit and in spite of how fucked up and unfair things are, we still can make it even worse. Let’s not do that! What if we instead get our act together and prepare ourselves to face suffering when it comes knocking? That’s the better path. And we all know where we fall short.

Peterson puts the responibility of all the world and all of it’s suffering on the individual. “If we all lived properly, we will collectively flurish.” If we put ourselves in order, maybe we will do the same to the world?

📝 “Aim up, pay attention, fix what you can and don’t be arrogant in your knowledge , strive for humility, be aware of your weaknesses. Consider the murderousness of your own being before condemn and judge others. Maybe you missed the mark? And most importantly, don’t lie! Lying is the path to hell.”

The book is fantastic, but maybe more importantly – it led me to examine the world of Jungian psychology – and what a wonderful rabbit hole it is to dive into!Leading me books like these:

📖 Man and his symbols

📖 King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

📖 Demian (kinda related..)

📖 Women Who Run With with the Wolves

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!

Are you Man Enough? Thoughts on: KING WARRIOR MAGICIAN LOVER

Do we face a crisis in masculine identity? This books claims that’s the case. The disintegration of traditional family systems being one reason – but it’s not whole story.

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There are two other factors:

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Lack of initiation into manhood leaves modern society to a dominance of Boy psychology.

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The other factor is patriarchy which is the expression of the immature masculine. What today is called patriarchy is really “puerarcy” (I.e the rule of boys) – like Lord of the flies! An expression of boy psychology and the shadow (crazy) side of mature masculinity. The authors see patriarchy as an attack on both masculinity and femininity in its fullest. Boys fear women and boys fear real men.

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So how do we deal with this? In lack of rituals we have to each find our own way to Man psychology and that’s the purpose of the book. To help us on our way by showing how to access the mature masculine energies.

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📝 For initiation rituals to work there needs to be a death. Effective, transformative initiation slays the ego. This is not the case for our modern initiations (I.e military, criminal gangs).

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📝 The Patriarchal male does not welcome full masculine and feminine development. The more beauty, maturity, creativity and generativity we display the more envy, and hate we generate in superiors and peers.

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📝 King, Warrior, Magician, Lover being the dominant masculine archetypes. We have all archetypes within us. Like board members we need to make all of them heard.

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📝 We can only admire others if we have a sense of our own worthiness.

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📝 Kings in the ancient world was often ritually killed when their ability to live out the King archetype began to fail.

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📝 If we are not secure enough in our inner structure, we will rely on our performance in the outer world to bolster our self confidence.

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TAKEAWAY:

By learning about the archetypes and their shadow versions we can assess them in ourself. I have a hard time imagining anyone reading this book without getting an aha- moment for sudden insights, whether it’s about yourself or people around you. Loved it!

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I posted my full notes on my site. (LINK IN BIO.)

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5/5

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Archetype are you most aligned with?

Get the Book!Extended Notes

Check out my reading lists for more great books!