Cover image for Original self : living with paradox and authenticity
Original self : living with paradox and authenticity
Moore, Thomas, 1940-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 150 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL624 .M6643 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BL624 .M6643 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL624 .M6643 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL624 .M6643 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL624 .M6643 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"I spent many years trying to become conscious, but all that effort led merely to self-consciousness, which in turn generated guilt, anxiety, and ambition. I was told that higher consciousness was a worthy goal and that its opposite, unconsciousness, was the result of laziness and ignorance. Around the age of fifty my ideals and values began to change, so much so that many of them turned upside down and inside out. Now I see great value in laziness, understood as giving up both effort and the attempt to justify my life. I have come to appreciate the teaching I have found in many religions that praises holy ignorance. And I have been discovering how to live with little consciousness

"Emerson once remarked that it is advisable to live without consciousness of the workings of the body, and I wonder if the same recommendation applies to the whole of life. Perhaps in some ways we do have to become conscious, and that may be the proper work of the first half of life. But then all our education and learning experiences may fade, not into oblivion, where they are simply lost, but by a process of absorption into us, so that they become us or we become them."

from Original Self

It's easy today to lose the deep, direct, and vivid sense of living with passion and originality. Thomas Moore states in his preface that we are "chronically trying to be someone other than this original self, persuaded that we are not adequate and should fit some norm of health or correctness, we may find a cool distance may gradually separate us from the deep and eternal person, that God-given personality, and we may forget both who we were and who we might be."

The fifty meditations in this collection offer fresh interpretations of living with originality rather than conformity, presenting multi-dimensional portraits of the creative self and different angles from which to tap one's primal emotions and possibilities. These pages show what it means to live from the burning essence of the heart, with the creativity that comes from allowing the soul to blossom in its own colors and shapes. Simple and beautiful woodcut drawings accompany each meditation, showing the primal yet complex nature of experience and suggesting with great subtlety the themes of paradox and contrariety that characterize the deep self.

With his usual grace and insight, Moore counters the prevailing assumptions of the day and offers strikingly unorthodox views on at is virtuous and healthy, opening up possibilities for a renewal of the way we live socially and in our private lives.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In introducing this set of two-plus-page essays meant to spur meditation, Moore restates the point he made in his first best-seller, Care of the Soul (1993): "All our problems, personal and social, are due to a loss of soul." He has come to see, he continues, "that soul is lost in our everyday lives whenever we try to force ourselves to fit some norm of health or correctness." So the thing to do is to plunge ever deeper into the "original self" that each of us possesses within ourselves and that "reeks with pleasure." To help in the quest for ever greater selfishness--er . . . originality, that is--the book's tiny disquisitions expound on such propositions as "Being smart about life leads us down a superior but narrow road of self-deception" and "Modern life and thought have been severely weakened by a chauvinistic attitude toward paganism." Some overall messages are to be open to life and others, to recognize the subtlety of such qualities as gender and youth, and to acknowledge the divine, which is a mystery. Those who have followed Moore this far will probably stay with him here and perhaps embrace this volume's relative terseness and economy more enthusiastically than they would another long-chaptered, discursive book. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cynics may roll their eyes at the publication of another book by Moore--eventually, they will imagine, he'll saturate his market. But this new, slender volume from the bestselling author of Care of the Soul deserves a wide readership. Indeed, in a rare reversal of the usual publishing pattern, this offering is much more satisfying than the books that made Moore famous. This may be, in part, because it is short; Moore does not fall into the trap here of repeating the same point. The 50 or so short reflections that comprise the book each open with a quotation and then an aphorism of Moore's own making. Emily Dickinson's famous "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" is followed by "The project of being a self is the surest way to feel like a person." A line from the Song of Songs precedes "Our deep human sexuality will be fulfilled only when we discover that the lover we seek is divine and beyond finding." Then come Moore's essays, some of which echo themes from his earlier books--e.g., the soul (or lack of it) is central to modern malaise, and we should seize the moment while still seeking the transcendent. Best of all is the art: a woodcut by Joan Hanley graces each essay. Presented in an unusual and attractive square format, this may well prove to be the rare gift book--and the rare Moore title--with substance. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Moore (The Care of the Soul) has come under fire for the apparent, or perhaps latent, conservatism of his views, but his newest work of spiritual counsel shows a singular openness and flexibility. Here he welcomes the strange, celebrates women and sexuality, and looks for the sublime in the humble. Moore writes with grace and concision, and his text is punctuated by spirited woodcuts. Highly recommended, and likely to be in demand. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.