Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Essential Alan Watts by Alan Watts (duh)

The Essential Alan Watts by Alan Watts is the final book of the Transformational Book Circle.  I have to backtrack and try to finish another book in the collection which I skipped because no matter how many times I try to start reading it, I simply get bored by it.

That is neither here nor there.  This book by Alan Watts is good, possibly even great, but as I have said before, the poor quality of the editing makes assessing the content difficult.  Watts’ writing style is dense, full of complex sentence structures that take up multiple lines of text.  When you have editing that either drops or changes words, it becomes all the more frustrating reaching the end of a sentence, knowing it doesn’t make sense, and wondering why.  Naturally, you go back and reread the sentence but there’s still something wrong and it takes two or more readings to realize where the problem lies and then a few moments to figure out what the problem is.  Should “is” be “it” or did someone just drop “that” altogether?

So once again, I think this is a really good book that suffers from how it is presented to the reader.  I can’t recommend this edition.

The audio cd from Bill Harris explains to the listener why he chose this book to be part of the Transformational Book Circle and Harris explains some of Watts’ teachings, commending Watts for having an innate ability to take complex ideas about Eastern philosophy and making them more accessible to the Western audience.  In a way Harris is doing the same for Watts so if Watts is “watering down” the teachings to make them easier to swallow then Harris is sort of watering down Watts to make him more comprehensible.  Unfortunately, thanks to the editing of this book’s publisher, it will take more than this cd to make some of the sentences comprehensible and every time a reader has to stop and reread a sentence, the flow of the teaching is lost.

Read another edition of this book.  The chapter on God is worth the time and effort.  Too bad the publishers didn’t think the book was worth a good editing.

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