THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK
MARK MANSON (Harper One Collection)
When my grandchildren saw what their grandmother was reading, they giggled away and told their parents under the hand “Oma is reading a book with a bad word!”. True. I was curious to understand what was behind such a provocative title. And with my intention to live more clarity in 2017, I was open to explore what the author wanted to express.
If you are sensitive and in demand of high quality language, do not read the book. The first three chapters are full of the f**k word. He slows down after a while. And yet, the f**k word is the key to his message: do not pay too much attention to what people say about you, be aware of your choices and live your life. His search for meaning in life is written in a light, humorous and eloquent way, not always coherent and sometimes contradictory. But, as he says; take it easy.
Interesting is his point that we should doubt and question our actions, feelings and outlooks on life permanently. It made me think of Byron Katie’s invitation to question every belief we have with “Is it true?”.
The ancient “Know Thyself” script of the oracles of Delphi does not mean anything to him. More over: do not know yourself, he writes, rather stay completely open and watch what unfolds in front of you. Do not be curious, instead let things come to you and contemplate on them from an observer’s perspective. He does not believe in intuition either, rather in reflection and analysis.
Half way through the book, I was asking myself how can I be empathic, loving and compassionate when I do not give a f**k about so many things? I did not find the answer.
The parts that spoke most to me were the ones where he reveals his own difficult childhood and especially his problematic adolescence. Drifting through life without commitment and emphasis, he found himself lost in places somewhere on the globe. As he says, he frequented many countries, many women, many books and ideas, yet, he did not find what he was looking for. He even did not know what to look for. What he finally found, in his thirties, was nothing special, nothing dramatic. He settled down, because he had seen enough and thus took the decision to settle down. It sounds simple, yet I think life is more complex.
At some point in his life he started to write blogs. Blog posts and the exchange with his readers are the backbones of this book. It might explain the incoherence at times. The composition of personal offerings, some pseudo-theories and mainstream language made it difficult for me to give the book too much applause.
GoodReads sees things differently:
… “There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives. “ …
Maybe you understand the book in a completely different light. I do give a f**k about your opinion, so, please let me know what you think.