Five Souls in a Dream

Five Souls in a Dream, copyright and written by Elias Aractingi, with illustrations by Christiane Walegren.

The book consists of eighteen chapters, each exploring the important part played by meeting people, interrelationships and learning, family, financial matters (Parterna), Safety (and freedom), and dreams. A Prologue identifies Sam, the protagonist, as a 63-year-old Portland store owner, now semiretired to a small ranch where he makes additional income by doing small appliance and plumbing jobs. He has a close relationship with a local hospital nurse although each preferably retain their own homes. The story is about an unusual dream Sam experiences one night. It covers years and begins as he seemingly awakens on a strange deserted pathway where gradually, and sequentially as he finishes each encounter, he meets other individual souls embodied within tangible bodies with which he can exchange words and actions. With each encounter he learns different lessons over an extended period of time until he again ‘feels something is missing’ that he needs to find to fulfill his destiny and he moves to the next. Each soul represents a different phase of his learning experience and he discovers such factors of importance as the importance of his unconscious as well as his conscious thoughts, that persons he meets become whom he needs them to become, nothing in life is guaranteed so the ability to re-bound is paramount, that “love heals all wounds and is the ultimate escape”, and more.

Discussion/Conclusion: The raison d’être given by the author for provision of this book perhaps is best set forth by the protagonist as he is conversing with one of his souls in a dream sequence. The soul called Safety says “I don’t have all of the answers (with respect to what’s next? in his activity). You know these things evolve and change. What I can say for sure is that you need to tell the world about your dream.” …“Because this dream has taught you things about yourself that most people wish they could know.” Still not convinced because of his inadequacies, she tells him not to worry because “You’ll meet who you need to meet!” Amusingly perhaps and certainly pragmatically acknowledging the author’s opening acknowledgements, this statement appears to be a truly prophetic declaration. He states “Experience has led me to believe that one’s greatest positive impact in this world is cultural. This book is my cultural message. But it owes its final form to a number of contributors.” He continues to thank his early supporters because “when you start writing, you are usually insecure and vulnerable…” and continues by acknowledging the fact that the final version is “longer than originally envisioned”, “improved in shape and contents”, “format”, “final edit and polish” as a result of considerable editorial assistance from dedicated members of Kirkus Reviews. So to conclude, this author’s originally somewhat nebulous thoughts, ideas and concepts gradually were molded into the final product that offers the reader a philosophical discussion that may provide enlightenment on many aspects of life, and finalized because “You’ll meet the people you need to meet”.

4* Interesting approach to understanding life’s components

Behind Civilization

Behind Civilization ISBN: 9780980856620, 2nd (English) Edition, copyright and written by Gavin Huang.

The author offers a list of seemingly well-qualified individuals as a group of translators who “partially contributed to the translation of this edition” and mentions the fact that the books first print was December 2015. He then provides 18 chapters of prose. In the first 16, or slightly over half of the book, he sets forth his understanding of civilization per se – what it is; the driving force behind it; its direction; how it is disseminated; elements required for its accelerated advance; importance of society’s orderly functioning with respect to social output; the forces controlling individual behavior to insure an orderly society; how society manipulates social output; the position of various “internal and external controlling forces” as they function to maintain social order; logical thinking; “concepts and the objective existences”; the fundamental interrelationships of nature; body and social systems as “parallel expressions of energy in the universe”; the nature and rules of technological development; “the mechanism of social evolution and the impacts of the information revolution and the biological revolution”; “Beauty and interrelationships”. Chapters 17 and 18 comprise the last half of the book and present material supporting his understanding of the mechanisms behind the rise of Western Civilization and that of China with much discussion and comparisons of differences among similar and/or inter-relative factors. Some references are included.

Discussion: The author has attempted to offer a total evaluation of modern civilization.. Literally, he attempts to cover every possible internal and external modifying factor and the many interrelationships that exist. Included are mental factors from basic needs to those psychologically and/or sociologically dictated; physical considerations ranging from minutia with regard to blood elements and immunology to construction of a building; numerous additional facets of social activity and societal mores; economics including features offered by wealth, population distribution, and more. The chapters comprising the last half of the book, also ‘ramble’ a bit, but do provide an interesting comparison of the direction of development of the two cultures and the causative factors that dictated each of their directions.

Conclusion: In this reader’s opinion, the author in attempting to be all-inclusive and provide easily understood interrelationships in the first 16 chapters regrettably has presented simply a mass of material in a rather simplistic manner. The approach may prove to be of interest to some readers, but others may find it to be difficult to accept. The last half of the book (Chapters 17 and 18) set forth pertinent observations, albeit in somewhat of a ‘rambling’ fashion, but nevertheless intriguing.

3* Dichotomously; 4* for the second half; 2* for the first half.