Revolution #234, May 29, 2011
From a Prisoner:
My Most Favorite Book
May 16, 2011
To Whom this may concern:
The other day someone asked me what was my most favorite book, and if I still had it, could they check it out. As simple as a question like that was, it stumped me for a second. I realized that I didn't actually have just ONE favorite book—as if one book could provide all the answers one could ever wish to find answers to (although I'm sure most religious fundamentalists would strongly disagree with me unscientifically; and I emphasize unscientifically.)
After pondering his question for awhile though, it made me think about a quote by Bob Avakian in his latest book BAsics in which he said, "I've taken up a principle that Mao brought forward: Marxism, as he put it, embraces but does not replace the arts and sciences and all the different fields of human endeavor. It is necessary to learn from many different people with many diverse viewpoints in all these different fields." (p. 127) That's a principle I've always attempted to apply consistently even before becoming a communist myself.
For that reason, I could've easily mentioned to this individual, that The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy was hands down my favorite book in the category of religion (despite their metaphysical conclusions still), since it was the best book I ever read which comprehensively showed how all of these monotheistic religions (particularly Christianity) were actually human inventions and had evolved like everything else. Or I could've mentioned that Ardea Skybreak's The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism was my favorite book, since it had opened my eyes up to the fact that evolution was a scientific fact for the first time in my life and that the belief in any Creator of any kind was absurd in the face of those undeniable facts. Or I could've mentioned the significance of how Viktor E. Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning had provided me with an existentialist approach to finding meaning in one's life (which in many ways is consistent with a materialist analysis). As Frankl would say: "Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible." I would add: in a consistently materialist and dialectical way.
What was common amongst all those favorite books of mine, which I could've mentioned to him though, wasn't that they were the only ones one would have to read to understand this experience we call life, but because they provided one with the most BASIC foundation in order for them to come to understand it more deeply and more concretely. I've noticed that every time I've come across another book that's capable of doing that, they've always assumed an elevated status and could be classified as being amongst my most favorite ones—at least in regards to that particular subject matter.
That's why when I read Bob Avakian's latest book called BAsics recently, it put a wide smile on my face because the title of it couldn't have been more appropriate. As BAsic as it may be for those with a longer history and background in studying the subject of communism, that's what makes this book so profound and significant to me. There's no question in my mind, that its simplicity will be the start of many people coming to see the world as it actually is for the first time in their life and proactively taking up a communist world outlook and methodology, with the intent on changing the world for the better. And to me that's what it's all about anyways.
By the way…did I mention that the book that I ended up giving that individual to read, in the end, was Bob Avakian's BAsics? My rationale was quite simple. As the back of that book states, "You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics," I couldn't agree more. That'll always apply to all fields of human inquiry, no less than it will in relation to our scientific approach to changing the material conditions of human civilization itself.
P.S. Could you send me a book on Dialectical Materialism whenever you find yourself in the position to? The one I have now has an idealistic tendency of "inevitablism" attached to it which Chairman Avakian has rightly condemned historically in the proletarian movement. Thanks again for sending me BAsics, and all the other ones you have in the past several months.
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