Thursday, June 27, 2019


Creative Obsession

I appreciated the gift of this paperback for reviewing, and the Kindle version as well. The production values of both are exemplary: the book cover beautiful, the interior formatting clear and attractive; the well-formatted Kindle has an active Table of Contents and one can tab easily from chapter to chapter. The editing seems excellent, though the oddness of some of the sentences made me wonder whether the author had overruled a more conventionally minded editor. Probably.

The book calls itself "an apomary." What is "an apomary"? The "Oxford Dictionary of English" doesn't list it, nor did Dr. Google. It seems to mean a collection of aphorisms. The world-traveled lawyer-author tells us that he collected some 63 such short and pointed literary items and then spent years trying to decide in what order they should be put. Because he and I share a real respect for mathematics, I'll note that there are 63 factorial = 63! = 63 x 62 x 61...x 1 = 2 x 10 to the 87th power different orderings (permutations) of 63 elements. That is 2 with 87 zeros possible orderings. The effort to order them might drive one mad, and the title's term "obsession" hints that the author realizes this himself. I understand his hyperbolic statement, "Of all the things we care about in life, we value most of all the consummate certainty of mathematical knowledge," one of the reasons I pursued a career in science, which I mention here to color my admission that much of the book I did not understand. Perhaps you will do better.

The pseudonymous author (Viator E. O'Leviter) tells us at the book's beginning that we seek, in part, interesting lives, and I agree. His travels have taken him far and wide, though others have argued that the most important truths can be learned at home, without much travel or the donning of new outfits for new settings.

When he moves away from aesthetic/philosophical issues, he seems on more solid ground, "Do what it takes to raise the odds that absolutely amazing and incredible things will happen in your life." Yes, embrace this, while making sure to contribute regularly to your 401k.

One must sift his prose to find some golden nuggets. This became a challenge. The author warns, perhaps especially in this being self-aware, "If your message is 'ahead of its time' and 'hard to understand,' then maybe you're not so smart. Maybe your art is just too weak."

"'Creative Obsession' is experimental prose," the author writes. This reader felt experimented on.

The book is available from at

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