March 5th, 2004

Books!

another book ...

The Te of PigletOne has to wonder what happened to Benjamin Hoff in the 10 years between his two Pooh/Tao books ... where The Tao of Pooh was charming, disarmingly naive, and well grounded in Taoist text, The Te of Piglet is abrasive, confrontational, even petulant! Despite starting off by bragging how well The Tao of Pooh did, how many languages it was translated into, etc., etc., etc., Hoff then launches into a series of attacks at "types" he identifies with various Pooh characters. You get the feeling that he feels slighted by certain sorts of people, and he's decided to write a new book to simply get revenge. He takes Rabbit, Tigger, Eeyore, and Owl and uses them as symbols for various people (or behavior patterns) that he clearly doesn't like. It would be one thing if he really based any of this on the Taoist texts, but he seems to interject these quotes randomly to very little illustrative effect.

About half way through the book he gives up savaging his character-represented targets and launches into a wider political diatribe. Suddenly neither the Pooh world nor the Taoist teachings mean anything, it's all "raging against the machine" at this point. It is almost as though he went out to see "Roger & Me" (released in 1989, while Piglet came out in 1992) and suddenly deeply wanted to be Michael Moore, complete with the "selective editing", ignoring of facts, and attacks substituting for truth.

His premise for advocating for the "Piglet" type of approach reads more like a farce of Jimmy Carter's pitiful M.E.O.W. policy (the "Moral Equivalent Of War") than anything from the Taoist material. Where he talks of Charles Dickens being "... wary of social reformers as they tended to turn people away from the causes they so seriously championed, thereby unwittingly weakening their own efforts", a few pages prior he is railing like an A.N.S.W.E.R. stooge about how "For years now, intelligent, concerned activists have been Out, and self-centered ignoramus conservatives have been In." ... and he hits on nearly every "hot button" of the far-left. Frankly, a better title of this book would be "The Green Party Piglet Manifesto".

Ultimately, The Te of Piglet reminds me of the board games made to play off the popularity of mid-70's TV programs ... they all were disappointing as they ended up being yet another version of Parcheesi, with new graphics. Hoff tries to play off the popularity of Pooh with a fraudulent follow-up which is neither about the Pooh world nor Taoism, but uses the imagery of both simply to pretty up what would be an otherwise unreadable mish-mash of personal vendetta and delusional political rant.

Of course, some of my more Liberal readers might find it quite to their liking.


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