Thank you to author Mathias B. Freese for providing me with a copy of Again, Again, and Again: Awakening into Awareness- Stories and Essays, in exchange for this honest review.
The opening of Again, Again, and Again is a thought experiment in which the author puts himself in the shoes of the first man to gain conscious thought. As interesting as this exercise is it lacks a certain creativity as Freese uses the exact same tone of voice he does for all of his other essays. One would think that early man may have a slightly different grasp on language and reality than someone of modern age but that is not the case here.
The nonfiction essays in first person and the essays in third person still referring to the author are nothing more than displays of narcissism. It is very important for the reader to understand how well read, well educated, and intelligent the author is. Freese spends pages referring to ancient literature and philosophy as well as the concept of writing in which he is extremely well versed.
The book takes a strangely black and white stance on the right and wrong ways to put words on paper. Of course, the author knows how to do it the right way and seems to dismiss any authors that have been alive during the last century. Freese can write, don’t get me wrong. The prose is far from incompetent. The main problem is that just because you can write doesn’t mean that you have anything to say.
It’s the kind of personality that thinks philosophy stopped with Plato, writing stopped with Shakespeare, and film stopped at Casablanca. Seriously, there are several mentions of Casablanca among the numerous mentions of every piece of media that makes the author oh so cultured for having enjoyed. He also mentions Freud in a positive light way more than is comfortable.
A long section of the book titled Vade Mecum (meaning handbook, in Latin, because of course), explains the art of writing as seen by Freese. It is endless metaphors and long rambling descriptions of the ultimate way to write. He mentions briefly that a student of his stood up and dissented against his lecture and I stand with her. If all books were written in his style I would never have started this blog.
In order to balance out the pompous sounding language the text arbitrarily becomes quite crass, almost as if he has something to prove. This unusual shift in language comes off as unnatural and off putting.
The pretentiousness shines through as Freese toots his own horn shamelessly and doesn’t seem to understand how detached from the common man that he is.
This passage by Freese of Freese states: “It took me centuries of psychological time to understand, to wake up to, that I was more than just bright, that I may even have an “astonishing intellect” and then goes on further to describe all of the people who see him on such a high pedestal.
As another example of the author’s strange reality we can view this excerpt:
He states in reference to one of the many books he’s read: “That report can be read in the Vatican archive, open to the public, and one need not be a scholar to gain access.” Excuse me sir, you do realize that most people will never have the means to travel anywhere near the Vatican yet you suggest they just hop on by for a reading session? Please.
It always feels wrong writing a negative review of a largely nonfiction book because my aim is not to personally attack authors, rather judge their books on their own merits. Unfortunately, with these kinds of books the two cannot be untangled.
Again, Again, and Again can simply be described through the words of William Shakespeare as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
1/5 storybooks 📖