Lessons from Twiki

One of the pieces of detritus kicking around in my brain is the catch-phrase of Twiki the robot from the ’80s version of Buck Rogers: “bidi-bidi-bidi.” Twiki begins all of his utterances with tag. It’s pretty inane. But once it’s inside of you, it never goes away. In the story, Twiki’s reason for existence is to be the vehicle for Dr. Theopolis, a disk-shaped super-computer who has no other means of getting around. Dr. Theopolis is sort of like IBM’s Watson meets Brian the Dog. The caption for the youtube clip below calls a scene with Twiki “awesomely bad crap.” Which it is. But there’s also something profound about Twiki and Dr. Theopolis. The two are a metaphor for the mind-body split.


Dance more.

I am on page 189 of Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. She opens the chapter with three recommendations for daily life from positive psychology manuals:

Practice random acts of kindness twice a week.

Think about Death for five minutes every day.

Dance more.

I have heard the recommendation about practicing random acts of kindness and I have often longed for more dancing in my life. The notion that modern psychology would recommend the medieval practice of “the death’s head” is highly intriguing. I did it today, thinking for a few minutes about my dying friend and listening to the beating of my heart which will stop some day. It actually made me feel better. But how will it make me feel in two weeks? Maybe Jane has an answer to the problem of dryness. Random acts of kindness scare me. I have been taken advantage of too many times. Dancing more I think I can handle.

Reading Book Reviews as Spiritual Practice

On July 20th the Wall Street Journal published a review of The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch. The review was written by John Horgan who is the director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Mr. Horgan also reviewed The Shallows for the Journal, but more on that at another time.  What grabbed me in this review was a passage in the fifth paragraph:

[Deutsch] rejects end-points of all kinds, whether a “theory of everything” that answers every scientific riddle, a work of art so exquisite that it cannot be surpassed or even the Buddhist version of Enlightenment, a state of unsurpassable spiritual grace.

happy new year 2018 quotes
I was in the midst of a love affair with Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now when I read those lines. Like so many Buddhist thinkers before him, Tolle believes that a state of unsurpassable spiritual grace is attainable. Reading those lines brought me back to the Beatitudes of Jesus and the Our Father which project a world where spiritual grace is a journey, not a destination.

I devour book reviews because I am a slow reader and do not have time to read everything that I would like to read. I have trouble finishing the books that I start because, in the words of the YA writer, Kristen Anderson, there is always one “shinier” just over there.

Still, apart from giving us summaries of some of the great books hitting store shelves, the reviews themselves can often enlighten. And I am constantly amazed by the erudition of the reviewers–especially those in the Journal. Reading the daily review in the Journal is part of my daily routine. Do you have a review site or page that you frequent?