I am the book club's hostess for January as well as the author of the month. We will be reading my novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money. I'm going to set out some introductory material and outline some of the questions/issues I'd like to see us discuss in the coming weeks.
Before I talk about my book, I'd like to tell you my goals for the month. First, I'd like to develop a feeling of community and warmth that will flow into the Book Club's coming months. I'd like us to get to know each other and have a good time together. I'd like us to learn from each other. I'd like to get a different understanding of my book from you.
My primary intention is that we should have fun reading Numenon. If you don't want to follow the schedule I set out below, forget it. Same with the questions. Don't answer them unless you want to. If you think of other issues or questions, bring them up. This is a time to hang out and examine a very unusual story.
I want to hear from you, too. Would you please tell us a bit about yourself as we begin? What's your background? What attracted you to the book club? Add anything that you care to share.
WHERE DO YOU BUY NUMENON? A number of places. I've got a surprise in point one below: How to get Numenon free.
⁃ I've arranged for you to get an eBook of Numenon free through Smashwords. Go to the book's Smashwords page. Use the coupon code LV94U when you check out and the book will be free. The coupon is good through January 19th, and I can extended the date if people want me to. I believe Smashwords makes books available in almost every eBook format.
⁃ If you'd like a print version, you can buy Numenon here: http://numenon.com This is the gorgeous hardback book that won all the awards. It was originally $24.95. We're selling it for $9.50 plus shipping. I will inscribe the book any way you like, just note what you'd like me to say in the message at checkout.
⁃ Numenon is also available as an Amazon Kindle for 99 cents. And it's available as a hardback on Amazon at a bit more than we charge. (We make almost nothing on the hardback when its purchased through Amazon, by the way.)
Also––I am not a Jungian analyst or professor; I won't be leading this discussion as an academic or psychotherapist. I am an an author. I've got a fairly deep understanding of myself and the writing craft. Both halves of my brain have been educated: I hold Master's degrees in economics and counseling.
If you've got a few minutes, the interview that Bonnie Bright and I did and which is linked here is the best introduction to me and my work. If you don't have time to listen to it, I'll give you a (relatively) short run-through here:
I was born in San Francisco. at the end of WWII. My father, a first generation immigrant, founded and owned what was the 10th largest residential construction company in the USA in its heyday. I grew up on San Francisco's Peninsula, in the heart of what came to be known as Silicon Valley.
Those were intoxicating years. Not only was I surrounded by the cutting edge of corporate culture, I had my father sitting in the family room. That was like having Secretariat parked on the front lawn. I learned about extremely successful people from my father and his friends. They moved at light speed and were more directed and effective than any people I've met since. Mine was a heady and thrilling existence, quite addictive. When I write about the upper end of Silicon Valley society, I do it partially from my own experience.
When I was eighteen, a drunk driver killed my father and my charmed life vanished overnight. I set about defining myself. How I could define myself was limited. Business was the only life-path my father approved. Even though he had passed on, his influence on my psyche was enormous. I majored in economics. I earned two degrees in the subject and worked as an economist for years. I was a doctoral student at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.
I left that program, but ended up working for the professor who taught Negotiation and Intervention at the Graduate School of Business. I coached negotiation and active listening with his students a few days a year for twenty years. That was a blast. As a result, I have an abiding love for MBA (Master's in Business Administration) students and MBAs. And negotiation. This shows in Numenon.
I left Stanford and started moving in a direction that better fed my soul. While working as an economist, I earned an MA in MFCC from Santa Clara University. There I learned about Jungian psychology and the transpersonal psychologies. Roberto Assagioli's Psychosynthesis fit my personal experience better than any other theory. Assagioli's egg diagram was almost a snapshot of my inner life. I've had unitive and other spiritual experiences since I was a young child. My first transcendent experiences occurred when I was a young teenager riding my horse through the redwoods of the Coast Range. I began a meditation practice in 1975 which accelerated and strengthened my spiritual development.
Years passed; jobs and professions along with them. In 1993, had a personal crisis which shattered what I thought about myself and my world. I was devastated. I spent from 1993 to 1995 putting myself back together.
Two major events happened in 1995. I went to a meditation retreat. After that retreat, I had a mystical experience which lead to Numenon and my other work. This is described in the Author's Note in Numenon and in my interview with Bonnie Bright. I also I started writing with a writing group led by a local poet. Those events changed my life.
When I wrote Numenon, I was dealing with PTSD and trauma-related issues. The book has a darkness that reflects my interior state. I was also trying to get my arms around what had happened to me and explain the nature of evil. Be aware of this as you read.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
You can learn pretty much everything about Numenon through this link to my web site. The linked page offers a synopsis, information about the book's awards, reviews, an excerpt, a physical description of the book and more.
The book's "personal history" may be of interest to you. Numenon was released in 2008; it's been around for a while. Being the book's author has been thrilling. Numenon is my first novel; my second book. We entered it in a couple of book contests as an ARC (advance reading copy). It won the visionary fiction and religious fiction categories in those contests. I entered it in more contests after it was released. It ended up winning four more national awards.
I'm particularly pleased with the Silver Nautilus Award for Indigenous/Multicultural Fiction. The Nautilus Award was established to recognize books that promote spiritual growth, positive social change, and conscious living. Previous Nautilus winners include Thich Nnat Hanh and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Winning the Silver Medal in the IPPYs (Independent Press) Awards was also exciting. The IPPYs are the oldest and largest contest for independent presses. About 4,000 books were entered that year.
As a Kindle book on Amazon, Numenon jumped to the front of books about mysticism, ranking #1 in three categories of mysticism and hovering about the 1,000th level in Kindle sales ranking (out of, say, 900,000 books). It's an Amazon Bestselling book. Numenon also garnered five star reviews for years.
I'm not telling you this to brag: it's a cautionary tale. I didn't realize how extraordinary Numenon's performance was. It kept it's #1 position in mysticism for about a year with absolutely no promotion on my part. I became complacent, expecting the wave to continue forever. This was a mistake. I wish I'd taken a screen shot of its Amazon page when it was at it's peak.
Numenon has dropped in the rankings, but it's the same book with the same heart that was ranked #1.
The book has 448 pages. If we divide the reading evenly over the month, that would mean reading 112 pages per week. If we do that, we should be on page 112 on January 7th, 224 on the 14th, 336 by the 21st and finish by the 28th.
Don't feel bound by this, if you want to read ahead, please do. But, if you read ahead, please don't ask questions in the reading group that reveal content that other group members haven't reached. You can message me privately if you want to talk about something.
Don't wreck your experience of reading the book by trying to answer these questions while you read. Let the answers and your viewpoints rise to the surface as you absorb the text. Numenon is a piece of art and a gestalt, not material for a quiz.
Compare & contrast Will Duane and Grandfather's psychological development. These are two very successful men in radically different fields. How did they end up so different?
Will Duane's psychic structure. What Jungian concepts do you see manifesting themselves in the book's first chapter? Subsequent chapters?
How would you diagnose Will?
Grandfather has had horribly traumatic things happen to him. How did he come out so well?
How would you diagnose him?
Two shamans exist in Numenon: Grandfather and Great-grandfather. How do they strike you?
Numenon brings up a wealth of issues highly relevant to our contemporary society. The following add greatly to our understanding of the book and what's going on around us.
"Inside Job", the Academy Award Winning documentary film produced, written and directed by Charles Ferguson. I believe that this film, which documents the causes of the 2008 financial crises, generated the "Occupy Wallstreet (and everywhere else)" movement.
The film clearly illustrates how our financial markets caused their own collapse because of greed and lack of discipline and morality. It makes complicated economic concepts easy to understand by use of graphics. It also illustrates the culture of the upper financial echelon, which is of interest to us as we study Numenon corporation.
My character Will Duane isn't based on a real person. He's a composite, partially my dad, partially people in the news. And partially my neighbors. I lived in the Town of Woodside, bedroom to Silicon Valley's finest, for fourteen years. People like Will Duane were all around me.
When I wrote Will and his lifestyle, I thought I was absolutely over-the-top in describing his behavior in every direction. "Inside Job" shows that I under-wrote the character. In all likelihood, Will would have been more flamboyant, ruthless, and immoral than I show him.
The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America by John D. Gartner PhD. This illuminating book explains a lot about Silicon Valley and its "movers and shakers". I'll bring it up in subsequent weeks.
Well, that should be enough to get us going. Let me know what you think/feel about the book and what I've written above.
And enjoy Numenon. One of the reviewers called it ". . . an amazing trip into two worlds."
Have a good trip! I'll be checking in often––feel welcome to come and hang out. I've got more material for the coming weeks . . .