Over the past year I have had a number of inquiries about my de anima novel series. Here are a few clarifying points. The title obviously refers back to Aristotle’s classic work. Anima (a translation of psuche) refers more to general personal and community worldview than any inscrutable aspect of the human animal. This is meant to dovetail with my work in ethics and social/political philosophy on the personal worldview imperative and the shared community worldview imperative. In my most recent conventional work on this topic (Natural Human Rights: A Theory--Cambridge 2014), ch. 6, I have extended the number of communities to five including social communities near and far and ecological communities near and far.
One way to sort the varieties of personal worldview and shared community worldviews is to track a key sociological feature: major world religions and key issues associated with them—for example, Buddhism & Desire. Behind all four novels is my own personal worldview that interacts with each of the others in a dialectical challenge to the claims that each espouses. This allows for a somewhat ambitious viewing of worldview on the earth. It is my expectation that the various stories will set out what I call fictive narrative philosophy. This is a discussion of worldview that cannot be stated in straight forward deductive argument. On the edges of the realm of truth is a rather foggy area that cannot be the subject of strict scientific analysis, yet nonetheless, is of vital importance for those seeking to live sincere and authentic lives.
Here’s a quick summary of the novels and what I am trying to do in each (besides creating a compelling story that pleases—the minimum condition, as Horace, are poetica extolls).
Rainbow Curve (2014)--Here is a tale about race, baseball, and politics in America with an overlay of the Muslim worldview on justice. You don’t have to understand the American game to get into this book in which a teen-aged European descent boy who loses his last parent is “adopted” by a 50+ African American who once was a pitcher in the Negro Baseball League (a testament to segregationist America). The boy’s mentor creates a traveling baseball team that takes on games in Mexico and the Caribbean. The time frame (of two concurrent stories) is 1970 and 1980. A major philosophical theme (aside from the social/political themes of Chicago in this period of time and sectional violence) is justice.
The Extinction of Desire (2007)--This novel begins with an astounding event: at a family gathering there is a disaster in which a light plane crashes into the event killing several in the gathering. With life insurance this creates the situation of sudden wealth for Michael O’Meara, a high school history teacher. What effects will this sudden wealth have on Michael? As friends, adversaries, and a greedy ex-wife emerge from the background to lay claim to the fortune, Michael finds himself caught up in a number of troubling situations that disrupts his life and leave him questioning everything about his personal worldview.
To the Promised Land (2015)--Moses Levi is a powerful corporate lawyer who gets a multi-national chemical company off from any legal liability for a Love-Canal type case in which 1,500 people die and 15,000 have serious health reactions (largely cancer). Then Moses’ wife dies of brain cancer. Is there a link? Moses turns away from big-time corporate law and seeks some redemption in becoming a social activist. Will this be enough? Then there is also a harm Moses was responsible for against his old college roommate, Peter Simon, for which Moses also wishes to patch-up. At the beginning of the book, Moses is missing and is a suspected murder victim. The FBI believes Peter Simon did it. What results are both a murder investigation and the back stage machinations of political Washington, D.C. The ménage is an examination of how forgiveness works at the individual and group level using distinctions from the Jewish tradition.
Maya (scheduled for 2018) --Like Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, this multi-generational novel presents many small stories within the larger context of a family over time. In this case it is an immigrant Irish family coming to America in the late 19th century. The family is confronted with a shared community worldview that is present in this period. Various family members make choices, but larger forces within society (acting in the place of fate, as understood via the classical Hindu tradition) interact with those striving to live the American Dream. As the next two generations proceed forward both the common understanding of the Dream changes along with the facts on the ground: the Great Depression, World War II, the boom of the 1950s and 60s, the Moon landing, and finishing with rise of personal computers. The coda is set on the 9/11/2001 tragedy and the subsequent reaction. As the next generation is ready to go--where will free will and fate fit in?
Together, these four books seek to explore personal and shared community worldview through various lenses in order to offer a more complete picture of how these concepts both describe and prescribe our behavior as humans living in the world. Please ask your library to buy one or more of these. The ISBN numbers are: Rainbow--978-1620-156-278; To the Promised Land--978-1620-159-984; and The Extinction of Desire--978-1405-148-504. Thanks.