Only Ever Freedom [Book Review]

A few months ago I posted my article The Nomads Journey in which I briefly analysed the writings of James Ellis – best known for his work on the Hermitix podcast.
Since then, Ellis has published another book, Only Ever Freedom, in which he systematises the ideas put forward in Exiting Modernity and critiques modernist attitudes toward education, credentialism, careerism, money,  normality and more. Here Ellis hopes to provide the reader with an inward sense of disconnection – allowing them to move away from the negative influence of modernism and onto the path of internal freedom.
I think this is his best book yet and I found my self frequently agreeing with the text. I think Ellis has an interesting ability to describe deep down how many feel about the modern world. Only someone already, on some level, dissident of the modern world would be attracted to such a text. If this book does not serve you as a guide to freedom, as Ellis intended, then it will paint an accurate and honest portrait of our culture.

Snuff Memories: Book Review

Snuff Memories is a rather short experimental work of fiction by David Rodin, an academic philosopher working at the Open University. It’s made up of vaguely connected vignettes that read more like a prose poem than a work of fiction.
Like a sort of cut-up Cronenberg, each segment is filled with body horror and imagery of a grim apocalyptic world. Scattered throughout the text are a few beautifully nightmarish aphorisms: “The universe is composed of windowless monads each locked away and screaming.” However, Snuff Memories quickly and frequently goes from vivid nightmare to hazy dream. Rodens highly stylised experimental style renders the majority of the book incomprehensible, rambling, repetitive and unforgivably dull. I’m unsure if the book is supposed to have some kind of underlining philosophy, if it does, it is completely indecipherable.

Modes of Sentience: Book Review

Six years after the publication of Noumenautics (2016) Dr. Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes brings us a new collection of essays, Modes of Sentience, in which he continues his exploration of Psychedelic experience, Metaphysics and Consciousness. Unlike this previous book there is no exploration of Meta-Ethics.

Many of the chapters are deeply complex such as “The Great God Pan is not Dead,” which explores Whiteheads Metaphysics in relation to Psychedelics perception and “Deeper then Depth,” which explores space and sentience. I don’t want to summarise these more complex essays here. Doing so would take up to much space for this to remain a simple review and I do not think a short summary would present such ideas adequately. Instead I will briefly discuss what could be seen as the more “approachable” essays.

“The Concrescence of Dissent” is a fantastic essay exploring the development of Alfred North Whitehead within the Religious and Philosophical context of his time  – showing that Whitehead stood as a heretic amongst his contemporaries. An interesting article for those both new to Whitehead and those already knowledgeable of his work.

The book also contains perhaps one of Sjöstedt-Hughes most significant essays: “The Psychedelic history of Philosophy.” Which gained almost instant popularity after its original publication in Mid-2016. This essay explores the hidden influence of Psychedelics have had on Western Philosophy exploring usage from Plato to Foucault. Here Sjöstedt-Hughes provides us an alternative view of Western Philosophy and discusses figures both well known and obscure.

One such obscure figure is Sir Humphry Davy, who is further discussed in the essay “The First Scientific Psychonaut.” Davy is best remembered for inventing the miners lamp and isolating several elements however he want on to experiment heavily with Nitrous Oxide – inspiring a poetic philosophy of Metaphysics of which Sjöstedt-Hughes explains in detail.

Modes of Sentience is a compelling and complex read. I wish not to discourage or criticise by mentioning its  complexity – I enjoy a challenging read. I don’t think ideas like these can be presented simply and in many ways I feel this book continues on from the writing he presented several years earlier – Modes of Sentience brings us deeper into Sjöstedts Psychonautic voyage. But we have further to travel yet as in the past Dr. Sjöstedt-Hughes has stated that he hopes to combine the metaphysics of Whitehead with the philosophy of Nietzsche.