• Rene Daumal


    La grande beuverie (A Night of Serious Drinking)

    “Words are made for a certain exactness of thought, as tears are for a certain degree of pain. What is least distinct cannot be named; what is clearest is unutterable. “

    “It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content … it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble and from babble to confusion.”

    “Common experience is the gold reserve which confers an exchange value on the currency which words are; without this reserve of shared experiences, all our pronouncements are cheques drawn on insufficient funds.”

    These are the words of Rene Daumal, spiritualist, poet and inspiration behind Jadorowsky's epic film The Holy Mountain.


    René Daumal  was a French spiritual surrealist writer and poet.  In his late teens his avant-garde poetry was published in France's leading journals, and in his early twenties, although courted by André Breton co-founded, as a counter to Surrealism and Dada, a literary journal, "Le Grand Jeu" with three friends, collectively known as the Simplists, including poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte . He is known best in the U.S. for two novels A Night of Serious Drinking and the allegorical novel Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing both based upon his friendship with Alexander de Salzmann, a pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff.

    Daumal was self-taught in the Sanskrit language and translated some of the Tripitaka Buddhist canon into the French language, as well as translating the literature of the Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki into French.

    Daumal's sudden and premature death of tuberculosis on May 21, 1944 in Paris may have been hastened by youthful experiments with drugs and psychoactive chemicals, including carbon tetrachloride. He died leaving his novel Mount Analogue unfinished, having worked on it until the day of his death.

    The motion picture The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky is based largely on Daumal's Mount Analogue.


    One cannot stay on the summit forever -
    One has to come down again.
    So why bother in the first place? Just this.
    What is above knows what is below -
    But what is below does not know what is above

    One climb, one sees-
    One descends and sees no longer
    But one has seen!

    There is an art of conducting one’s self in
    The lower regions by the memory of
    What one saw higher up.

    When one can no longer see,
    One does at least still know.


    I am dead because I lack desire,
    I lack desire because I think I possess.
    I think I possess because I do not try to give.
    In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
    Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
    Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing:
    Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
    In desiring to become, you begin to live.


  • Richard Allen | The Charles Dickens of Skinheads






    Red 777
    Undo Mundo

    "James Moffat (1922-1993) was a Canadian-born writer who once published a magazine about bowling and who, under sundry pseudonyms, wrote hack fiction (westerns, children’s stories, mysteries). In 1970 he was asked because he was so versatile and prolific, to write a book for the New English Library about skinheads, the white working-class youths whose thuggery seemed, to some, an authentic cry of alienation and, to others, the decline of Western civilisation.

    Allen’s first novel, Skinhead, uneasily combined self-righteous fascist rhetoric, nihilist indifference and the shocked voice of reason. But it succeed with its authentic portrayal of Joe Hawkins, the 16-year old gangster convinced the Cockneys had lost control of their patch, London, and whose life of rape, drink and hooliganism ends in a kind of triumph when he is jailed for beating a cop – a punishment which, he gloats, makes him king of the skinheads.

    After that sold a million, the formula stayed pretty constant for 17 other novels – seven with the words “skin” or ‘Skinhead’ in the title. Allen bought to the task an enthusiasm for research, speed – he once completed a novel in less than a week – narrative drive and pulp fair. The opening line of Suedehead is masterful: “As he stood in the dock, Joe Hawkins considered the situation with a detachment”. Yet the author, uncomfortable with charges he encouraged violence, later blamed “leniency in courtrooms, catering to fads by mercenary-minded rage-trade merchants, a soft-peddling attitude by politicians who look for teenage votes and a overwhelming pandering by the media”.

    Rediscovered in his seventies, Allen was planning a sequel Skinhead Return, when years of writing at short notice aided by tobacco and booze finally caught up with him. He died in 1993."

    - The Richard Allen Project

  • Selected Titles From The Weird Book Room















    Discovery via The News in Welsh for Life

    Should any of these books address your problems, they can be purchased at Abe Books

    Categories: Books, Book Covers
  • The Whole Earth Catalog



    I was first turned on to the Whole Earth Catalog by my friend and old boss, John Wackman. He described the catalog as the sort of "Sears Catalog of cool and interesting things" as well as "the first blog." He couldn't have been more right.  According to Wikipedia, "The Whole Earth Catalog was an American counterculture catalog published by Stewart Brand between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. Although the WECs listed all sorts of products for sale (clothing, books, tools, machines, seeds -- anything for a self-sustainable ""hippie" lifestyle) the Whole Earth Catalogs themselves did not sell any of the products. Instead the vendors and their prices were listed right alongside with the items. This led to a need for the Catalogs to be frequently updated. Apple Inc. founder and entrepreneur Steve Jobs has described the Catalog as the conceptual forerunner of the World Wide Web."

    The catalog featured brief, blog-like entries on weird stuff that you would now find in selective, curated stores and websites around the city. These entries were written by the likes of: The Black Panthers, Walter / Wendy Carlos, William S. Burroughs, Peter Coyote, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Buckminster Fuller, Ram Daas, Wavy Gravy, Ken Kessey, Paul Krassener, Dalai Lama, Timothy Leary, Alice Waters, The Yippies, and so many more.

    Some of the more notable article titles included:

    The Global Mushroom Trade
    The Double Bubble Wheel Engine
    Left Handed Bears and Androgynous Cassowaries
    Poets on the Bum
    The Ultimate Swiss Omni Knife
    Son of Man Temple
    What are People For?
    Computational Chemistry
    A Witch's Manifesto
    Do It Yourself Eclipse Prediction
    Obeying Chogyam Trungpa
    Outside the Yuppie Zoo
    The Living Water Garden
    God is a Verb
    Tiptoeing Out of Real Estate
    Dr. Seuss: Architect of Social Change
    Death Does Not Exist
    Am I Psychic Yet?
    The Beauty of Disconnection
    Organizing Programs as Mind Extension Tools
    Juggling and Performing Mathematics
    Big Foot No Longer Fair Game
    A Hard Look at Soft Woods
    King Kong Died For Our Sins
    Model Rockets

    From the opening page of the 1969 Catalog:


    The WHOLE EARTH CATALOG functions as an evaluation and access device. With it, the user should know better what is worth getting and where and how to do the getting. An item is listed in the CATALOG if it is deemed:

           1. Useful as a tool,
           2. Relevant to independent education,
           3. High quality or low cost,
           4. Not already common knowledge,
           5. Easily available by mail.

        CATALOG listings are continually revised according to the experience and suggestions of CATALOG users and staff.   


    We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.


    Categories: Reading List, Hippies, Books
  • Vintage Book Covers








    See more from Kyle Katz

  • Who Reads What Reading List

    From 1988 - 2007 the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner, Maine has been compiling an annual Who Reads What list in which they ask the most accomplished in their fields to suggest the books that have influenced them. Below are just a few of the many people involved with the project.




    The Standard Oil Company by Ida M. Tarbell
    One Thousand by George Seldes
    Aims of Education by Alfred North Whitehead
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    The Shame of the Cities by Lincoln Steffens


    Jonathan  Franzen


    Independent People by Halldór Laxness
    The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
    "Two under-appreciated twentieth-century masterpieces"






    Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
    "I consider Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds a must-read not only for all investors - but for all thinking people. As Charles Mackay's classic so clearly demonstrates, follow the herd and you may just be headed straight for the slaughterhouse. With examples ranging from the Tuilpmania that occurred in the 1600's to the over-blown technology sector that we just experienced in the stock market, this recently updated classic is just as relevant today as it was the day it was published in 1841."





    Trails Plowed Under by Charles m. Russell    

    "Our greatest painter and sculptor of horses - better than Remington.  Also, great frontier-American humor in his story-telling.  Russell was a roper and a night wrangler; lived with Indians in Montana for 11 years - funny, funny reading!"


    "The New New Thing" by Michael Lewis    

    "Business journalist Michael Lewis has written a fascinating account of entrepreneur Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, and Clark’s creation of Healtheon, his third billion-dollar company. This offers a new view of the future of the Internet, and an insider’s vision of Silicon Valley’s business."



    The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope

    Cousin Betty by Honoreé del Balzac

    "The Eustace Diamonds of Trollope's, which is part of the Phineas Finn and Palliser series of novels, deeply moved me, and resulted in my reading all of Anthony Trollope. I found him to be one of the most pleasurable of English authors and his books have given me years of enjoyable reading. "Cousin Betty of Balzac's, part of his human comedy (one hundred novels) also affected me and I've since read all of Balzac that I could find in English."




    Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown 

    Sacred Hoop by Paula Gunn Allen 

    Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole 

    Orlando by Virginia Woolf 

    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 

    Ceremony by Leslie Silko

    " Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford, Ph.D, by far the most thorough and readable book I've found about the contributions of Native American people to the world. lso, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Paula Gunn Allen (Native American and feminist subject)."

    " A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Funny, poignant, real New Orleans. Also, Orlando by Virginia Woolf, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Ceremony by Leslie Silko, Native American."



    Fifth Business | The Manticore | The World of Business by Robertson Davies
    Night at the Circus by Angela Carter
    Money by Martin Amis
    Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
    The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
    Libraby Don Delillo   

    "I read something like three books a week, so trimming down became an exceptionally daunting prospect. These few are works that really stayed with me and I can assure the reader of a jolly good time with any of the following. Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders by Robertson Davies. These books form a trilogy so read them in order. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. Wonderfully surreal. Money by Martin Amis. Funny, bitter, extremely British. Brazzaville Beach, by William Boyd. Caring, poignant and terribly romantic. The Viveroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin. One of the greatest writers of this last twenty years. Libra by Don Delillo. Alarming and American."



    Gone South by Robert McGammon
    Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt
    The Twelfth Angel | The Greatest Salesman in the World, Part 2 by Og Mandino
    Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
    A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay




    The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain
    The Robe by Lloyd Douglas
    The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
    100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

    "By the time I was around twelve, some of my favorite books were The Silver Chalice, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Robe. As an adult I have thoroughly enjoyed 100 Years of Solitude and The Prince of Tides.

    Both as Governor of Arkansas and now as President of the United States, I must spend a lot of time reading every day.  I also read about 70 fiction and nonfiction books each year."


    Kim by Rudyard Kipling




    The Foutainhead by Ayn Rand    

    "This tale of an idealistic architech is a compelling tribute to man's quest for personal freedom. I read it first in college and it had a profound effect on me at that time."




    Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf





    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy     

    "The most beautiful love story ever."



    People by Peter Spier    

    "People, by Peter Spier, is a delightful book, for adults of all ages as well as for children. Beyond its charm, it is a smiling lesson of ecology. I am impatient to share my delight with my grandchildren."



    Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes    

    "Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes. The greatest art critic of our time brings us up to date not only with the Art of our Time, but the Art of Criticism."

    Categories: Reading List, Books