Drinking From The River Of Light: The Life Of Expression, by Mark Nepo
If you want to read a lot of terrible books with terrible advice written by people who are absolutely ignorant about what they are talking about but cannot stop writing about it, a great subject to do a lit review about is the subject of creativity. In few subjects are people so willing to expose themselves to the ridicule of the world for the nonsense they spout out while being so woefully ignorant about even the basic and fundamental aspects of the given topic. In reading about creativity, it is very common to see a lot of information about people who think of themselves as being creative in particularly important ways while not realizing that their self-absorbed discussions about themselves fail to respect their own Creator and come to all the wrong sorts of conclusions about what it is that creativity is really about and what is it that we are trying to do as creators. All too often people want to proclaim the nonsense that they view as their own truth without recognizing that most genuine and worthwhile creations are like pearls that result from the irritation and agitation of existence within us from which our insights and art is produced. It is not so much that the insight is inside of us as much as it is that we gain insight through wrestling with reality and coming to grips with the life and times that we have been given.
This book is about 300 pages long and is divided into four parts with unnumbered chapters. The author begins with an exploration about the river of light and the life of expression that he believes he has lived. After that the book begins with the author’s view of basic human truths (I), including the question of why we write (1), explores the gift of vision (2), demonstrates his confidence in the art of perception (3), and discusses our heart as a tuning fork that inspires us to an inner experience of truth (4). After that the author explores how we are shaped by life (II), through unraveling the self (5), bearing witness of our truths (6), and looking at our instrument and its gifts (7). After that the author posits his own view of depth (III), in breaking the surface (8), giving and receiving attention (9), and understanding the value of practice (10). Finally, the author discusses the importance of becoming at one with existence (IV) through understanding the magic of liberty (11) and swimming in the timeless river (12) of life, after which there are acknowledgements (the author calls them gratitudes), notes, permissions, and information about the author.
This book contains within it a great deal of writing that the author has viewed as insightful and important and a lot of the author’s own personal thoughts. To the extent that the author is someone that one would want to know more personally concerning how they view creativity, this book is not a total waste. To be sure, the author’s religious perspective, with its New Age Buddhism mixed with a sense of Jewish mysticism, is by no means congenial to my own, and thus I am less likely to enjoy this book than many other readers will be. To the extent that the author views his writing as personal opinions based on his own incorrect worldview, this is certainly not the worst book I have read about creativity, or even in the bottom 5 (the field really is that bad), but it is not a book I can recommend. Just about everything in this book is either the author’s opinion, which isn’t worth much to me, or is rubbish spouted from the author’s misguided and mistaken belief system which is impossible to reconcile with reality. This is the sort of book that seeks to flatter the reader, and as a result does not provide the insight that a better book would.