Woot ... finally finished one of these books!
As anybody who's been paying way too much attention
would have noticed, I haven't put up a "book review" here in quite a while. This is, of course, due to a mix of things, being busy with the business, being busy with the family, and, frankly, being stuck
in a couple of books that are like dental surgery to read. The current "done" book is not one of those, but one that I, in desperation, yanked off the shelf to have something
to read at one point when I just couldn't
face either of the other two in which I'm enmired!
This one, The Essential Kabbalah : The Heart of Jewish Mysticism
by Daniel C. Matt, is a scholarly introduction to the Kabbalah. It is not in-depth, nor overly broad, but introduces the reader to many of the classic authors, presenting key excerpts from their work in the "themed" sections, with attributional and explanatory notes in the back.
To be honest, I was worried for a while that this, too, would be another grinding read, as the initial sections on the Sefirot and their alignment on the Otz Chiim
"Tree of Life" seemed muddied with a level of "poetic mysticism" that I had not previous had to deal with, having the bulk of my experience of the Sefirot coming through the rather idiosyncratic filter of Crowley, and his interpreters. Fortunately, the book moved on from there and became more familiar, if in its echoes of Sufi teachings (which I've read quite a bit of).
Anyway, this would appear to be a pretty good "sampler" of what is involved in Kabbalistic study, and is based on actual traditional
materials, and not their later pop/new-age permutations! Once again, thanks to Amazon's "new&used" service, you can get a copy of this for as little as $3.25 ... so if The Essential Kabbalah
sounds like something you want to check out, you're in luck!
I'm bringing along John Leslie's (no, not that
John Leslie!) book "Universes" with me this weekend, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to force myself to finally plow through the remainder of it. As I've noted before, I keep wanting to bitchslap the author for his heavy "designist" stance ... of course, this is due to my suspicions that deep inside every "anti-anthropic" theorist there's a scared child not wanting to let go of his or her Sunday school fairy tales ... and my worry that every "Sunday school fairy tale believer" has a strong potential for turning into a jackbooted theocratic thug if their particular fairy tales are threatened! Oh, well ... at least it's easier to force down than the brain curdling newage twaddle of "Voices of the First Day" (the other
book I've been trying to get through)!