Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If I Was to Write Another Book ...

For some reason, I am not entirely sure why, I think I should write another book.  Of course I am not very good at writing books.  That might be a small problem.  Nevertheless, as I have little common sense, I might try it again.

Of course, the first question is - why?  Why bother attempting something I failed at so miserably the last time I went up to bat.  Well, for one, aside from being wrong about all the particulars, I thought it was a lot of fun.  And isn't life about having a few good times before it's all over?

The second point is that even though I am not very good at writing books, I am not all that great at doing much else.  I mean, I am tolerably proficient at a few things. But there is this nagging thought in my head - don't I have to fail at something at least twice to know that I am perfectly unsuitable for doing it ever again?

So what went wrong the last time?  I think I set out with the idea of finding out what it would be like to publish a book.  I succeeded at that.  I flew to London, signed a book deal and in the process got a literary agent, and met some delightful people.  I worked on a television documentary and ended up meeting even more interesting people as I continued to pitch shows and even appeared in a television documentary as recently as last year.

The problem of course was that I didn't really have a firm idea about what I was going to write about when I signed the book deal in the first place.  Of course, there was an 'idea.'  But with all this other stuff going on I sort of got distracted from the original premise of writing a quality book.

Did I mention I got an all expense paid trip to Venice, another trip to London and a bunch of other nice places?

So what's changed this time?  I think I have a much better idea for a book.  It might even be built around an article I recently helped write.  There are some difficulties I have yet to work out - like why anyone in their right mind would buy this book I am working on.  That's always the problem isn't it?  But maybe I should the book for myself.  Or better yet lay it out like I am trying to explain things to the person I love most in the world - my son.

I could have said my dog but my ten year old Bichon Frise is really only interest in sirens and people knocking on the door.  That range of material is a little too limited for me to work with this time around.

I think my main difficulty writing is that I write to avoid getting personal with people.  I mean, most writers are introverts.  I just hate people - period.  I am a good-natured misanthrope.  I don't actively despite humanity.  I just like keeping people at arms length because I expect either nothing or the worst from them.

All of this makes my next idea for a book very odd for me.  I want to write a book which explains the mystical foundations of Judeo-Christianity in a way that hopeless morons could understand and maybe even learn something.  Once again, 'it's an idea' book.  I am not going to sit down and write the history of an idea.  I don't have the patience for that.  I have this idea which I think is the answer to everything, and then if everyone agrees with me I can basically die and live happily ever after.

Here's the idea in a nutshell - Christianity is just a Gentile version of an ancient Jewish doctrine of mystical Menschlichkeit (brotherliness).  I know this sounds self-explanatory (for people that know either Yiddish or German) but I can't help but think that the Jewishness of this doctrine or myth has been unrecognized so far.

Scholars might talk about the beliefs of an ancient Jew like Philo of Alexandria for instance, acknowledge that he had this heavenly man at the heart of his worldview but they won't say he held fast to a practical understanding of mystical 'brotherliness' which was almost identical with earliest Christianity or what the rabbis say when they say 'be a mensch.'

Yes, I know it doesn't sound that impressive but it's a work in progress.  Above all else I want to write it for my son because I can't help but come to the conclusion that at the core of Western civilization whether it is 'Jewish' or 'Christian' version of the myth, it was Menschlichkeit - that made us a great.  Idealism may be naive - even stupid at times - but all the cleverness in the world can't found a civilization you'd want to live in.

I don't believe that we can live in harmony with one another without a myth which connects each of us to every one else.  I think Christianity was developed out of a long tradition of 'human idealism' within Judaism.  I would like to explain the Bible as a doctrine of brotherliness from the point of view of someone who doesn't practice any sort of religion, faith or worship.  It might read as an appreciation and understanding of the seminal role that religion had in the humanizing of humanity without preaching or believing in any of it.

That's really where I come from.  I think all of this Menschlichkeit develops from myth.  It's not objectively true but entirely necessary because myths are what are needed to prevent utter chaos and catastrophe in this world.  We humans are hopelessly self-centered and destructive. I think I understand what the people who wrote the most fundamental parts of the Bible were trying to accomplish even if I don't believe what they wrote was heaven sent.

Like many parents, I am willing to tolerate enduring a lie for the betterment of my son and the world he is going to live in.  My gift to the world is to hopefully explain how idealism - this myth of Menschlichkeit in its various forms - helped civilization attain its former greatness.  Any way, that's the idea for my new book, naked and laid bare for everyone to see.  Back to work ...

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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