Review: Delusionism by Anthony Marais

Monday, December 15, 2008

Delusionism (cover)

by Anthony Marais

Balneum Books, 2008
119 pages, ISBN 0977479218

In "Delusionism", Anthony Marais presents roughly sixty-nine micro-essays, whose two sections (Culture vs. Nature and Art vs. Life) are divided by a hundred aphorisms.  This is a forked-tongue-in-cheek exploration and oration, marketed as philosophy/self help--somewhat in the vein of Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary", but intending more to drive thought through humor than humor through thought.

The book is filled with thoughts--and thoughts about thoughts--and I was tempted to refer to its points heavily in this review.  I was, in retrospect, surprised to not find an essay on Conversation or Discussion, though it's likely there was a fitting aphorism I'm not recalling.  Regarding Genius, Marais says:

Has the reader ever noticed that thinking is easy?  For most of us it's more difficult not to think than the contrary.  It seems that with every turn of the head our brain showers us with thoughts, flashing across our mind's sky like fireworks.  Indeed, the rush of ideas is a delightful feeling.  Sometimes it seems to palpably flow through our body in a euphoric, almost tickling sensation.  Interestingly, it's often ideas we perceive as untruths that tickles us most: absurd, ridiculous thoughts that produce outrageous images.  People who, with a haphazard turn of the head, stumble upon these thoughts sometimes find themselves giggling aloud in public, or walking with a silly, conspicuous skip.  This is genius: the ability to produce freely and easily new thoughts.  And the sensation is pleasurable.


It is genius, this genius, that Marais seems to strive for with this book; and from how often I laughed along, I think he often hit his mark.  With a wink and a nudge, he delivers essays on topics ranging from Originality and The Quest For Happiness to Pet Rocks and Books vs. Movies.  Some play straight, some verso--and others strive for double duty, contradicting not only convention, but, subtly perhaps, themselves as well.

Of course, some insights are more clever than others--some are obvious, some simply plain, and some a bit muddled.  But the overall attempt, I think, makes a very worthwhile platter of intellectual finger food that could well be grown into a banquet given the right crowd.  I found myself half wanting to keep notes as I read, to argue back with the author and see where more thoughts led--so perhaps this is a book better read with a friend.  But I suspect the author would be pleased even with my reaction to those essays I was not moved by, or felt were less than a hundred percent presented: I thought. 

If this sounds interesting, you might also consider our review of The Cure, a novel by Anthony Marais.


- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by kaolin

25 comments; 17 subscribers

Monday, December 15, 2008 / 14:14:38
TO ENTER TO WIN OUR COPY, TELL US--an uncommon quote. If you make it a perverse one I'll count it as a second entry. Entries will be considered through Monday, January 5, 2009 (midnight, pacific time). Open to anyone in the US/Canada.

If you duplicate someone else's quote, yours won't be counted.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 / 02:27:34
Guilt once harbored in the conscious breast
Intimidates the brave, degrades the great.

Samuel Johnson
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 / 10:39:34
When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
George Washington Carver
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 / 22:07:17
If ye love the tranquility of servitude better than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen! - Samuel Adams
Thursday, December 18, 2008 / 14:08:41
It Takes A Big Man To Cry
It Takes A Bigger Man To Laugh At That Man

Jack Handy
Friday, December 19, 2008 / 21:25:04
"I see serious problems ahead." -- Roland Deschain
Friday, December 19, 2008 / 22:01:07
"It's a jungle out there, but the animals are fun!"
-Sandra Marais
Tuesday, December 23, 2008 / 12:10:39
We create our history by living our life!
Author Unknown
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 / 19:14:24
And this is the most wonderful thing in the world: that though we are small, smaller than dust in the cosmos, we have the power to change.

~Author Unknown
Friday, January 2, 2009 / 20:16:56
Chaste makes waste! bookbanklink
Saturday, January 3, 2009 / 10:19:56
“We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 06:30:39
"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."
Ambrose Bierce
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 13:50:42
"Honi soit qui mal y pense"
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 15:24:07
"Why must you always generalize everything into an 'always' statement?"---My Mother
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 18:28:19
"No pain, no pain." It hurt when I tried to remember who said that, so I stopped.
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 19:52:17
"It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.” The Marquis de Sade.
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 20:07:05
To hold one's hand in fight is honorable, but to hold one's gland in fight can lead to peace on earth. ME
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 21:24:38
A liberated women is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.

Gloria Steinam
Sunday, January 4, 2009 / 21:29:27
It's a quote from a tv show Becker. I'm using it because it sums up the way things have been going lately for me.

"Y'know, everytime I think God can't screw me any worse, he pulls out the ol' Black & Decker and twists a little harder." -Becker
"Interesting. You're being persecuted by a God you don't believe in." -Margaret
"That's why he's after me, Margaret." -Becker
Monday, January 5, 2009 / 10:49:32
“There are not many things in life so beautiful as true friendship, and not many things more uncommon.”
Monday, January 5, 2009 / 15:31:37
Monday, January 5, 2009 / 16:46:28
The bedfellows politics made are never strange. It only seems that way to those who have not watched the courtship.
Marcel Achard
Monday, January 5, 2009 / 19:02:11
Living things must exploit their environment for acqusitions of energy. To stay alive the big fish eats a little fish and so on.-Professor Tittlebaum
Monday, January 5, 2009 / 22:54:42
What we now call "finance" is, I hold, an intellectual perversion of what began as warm human love.
Robert Graves
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 / 15:37:07
A great number of interesting quotes! Not so many I'd call perverse, but then it's hard for a quote (of the body of conventional wisdom) to buck it.

The random number generator selects:


Everyone else--if you like quotes, aphorisms, thoughts, and such--go out and get yourselves a copy, too (or ask your local librarian!). :)

And check out "A Guide to Surreal Botany" for another chance to win :)


Do you have a comment? Log in or Register; registration is quick, painless, free, and spam-free (unless you ask for it)