Review published on June 26, 2017.
Humans have always had the desire to seek experiences out beyond their comfort zone. Some of these can be a real benefit to people; a shared experience in a crowd, commune with a greater spirit and those most intimate of moments can generate a real buzz. They can though be dangerous as individuals can become addicted and lose touch with their closest friends. The search for ecstasy had been mostly disregarded by Western intellectuals as they looked to enlightenment for answers. Philosopher Jules Evans thinks that ecstasy needs to play a larger part in human emotional development and he decides to try as many ways possible in the search for that perfect moment.
Evans decides the best way of exploring how people react to ecstasy is to experience all of these things for himself. Starting with Holy Trinity Brompton, he undertakes an Alpha course in the search for religious joy, moves onto the thrall of the mosh pit and musical enlightenment, discovers the allure of the silver screen, takes time to consider his position in the universe, seeks harmony with nature, before tentatively venturing into the tantric love temple in Dorset of all places. The future does not escape either, whether it is seeking a transhumanist philosophy and become immortal or to lose yourself in the binary worlds or cyberspace where no one knows you’re a cat.
As the search for the ecstatic experience grows, Evans has provided the closest that we have got to a guide to losing control. He argues that it can be beneficial to us as individuals as well as society as a whole, but that there are caveats. He comes from a philosophical background making parts of the book occasionally quite esoteric, but there are some funny moments in the book and generally it is well written and understandable. By undertaking these series of strange and occasionally enlightening experiences gives him a greater authority to provoke a discussion in this book and gives us plenty of food for thought.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Art of Losing Control: A Guide to Ecstatic Experience by Jules Evans
Canongate Books 9781782118671 hbk Apr 2017