cover image Just So: Money, Materialism, and the Ineffable, Intelligent Universe

Just So: Money, Materialism, and the Ineffable, Intelligent Universe

Alan Watts. Sounds True, $17.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-68364-294-7

Five lectures from self-proclaimed “philosophical entertainer” Watts (1915–1973) are collected in this comprehensive, approachable work. Though the language is sometimes delightfully dated—Watts is very concerned about “hang-ups” and calls those who cannot withstand the uncertainty of life “squares”—his general ideas (developing a relationship with the vagaries of the universe, as discussed in his lecture “Going With,” or, in “What Is So of Itself,” learning to trust the intuitive “unborn mind”) still resonate. However, Watts’s idolization of Chinese approaches to technology and nature feels rose-tinted, and Watts’s hopes that transportation technology would eliminate war and that electronic connectivity would connect people in a way that would allow one to “give up all worries concerning ownership” and eliminate the impact of “dirty little secrets” are naive in retrospect. Statements like “when we are adequately fed and sheltered, there isn’t anything missing” remind readers to keep life simple in order to find solace. While those new to the ideas of Western Zen will probably find contemporary authors more to their taste, this insightful survey will appeal to Watts’s fans. [em](Mar.) [/em]