A Review of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia

by Divalion

"Rob Brezsny's Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia is a most unusual book. It takes ideas that he has developed in his 'Free Will Astrology' column and in his amazing novel, The Televisionary Oracle, and expands on them, shaping them into a chaotically coherent philosophy of life. The style is undeniably Brezsny -- quirky, irreverent, soulful, linguistically athletic, challenging, hopeful.

"The book has a freewheeling structure: part creative workbook (including spaces for you to write your own thoughts and even your own chapter), part essay collection, part word art, part exuberant poetry slam, and part instruction manual for the inner development of 'rowdy bliss.'

"Big and packed full of interesting information and musings, illustrated lavishly with quirky graphics and nifty fonts, it is the kind of book you can either read straight through or flip around, seeing where the pages fall in a bibliomantic attempt to receive an eccentric oracle. One thing's for sure: A single reading is not enough to completely absorb everything this book contains. But it will be a pleasure to go back and re-read many times in the future.

"The less whimsically inclined might regard 'PRONOIA' with a raised eyebrow and incredulity. Brezsny's a holy fool and a sacred clown, and he can be downright outrageous and goofy even when he's at his most heartfelt and profound. Cynics may find his relentless optimism over the top.

"But this is a smart man who has invested a tremendous amount of contemplation and personal experience into every idea he proposes. He is in no small measure radical as he challenges the assumptions about the bleakness of the world that are so constantly fed to us. His optimism and faith are not at all blind, nor are they syrupy or saccharine; he addresses the existence of sorrow and suffering in the world and encourages his readers to adopt the scientist's tools to test and evaluate our beliefs.

"At the heart of his philosophy is that we all have the right to experience tremendous joy in our lives, the ability to shape the world around us, and the unceasing gifts of a benevolent universe that longs to help us and communicate with us. He takes the previously-little-explored concept of 'pronoia' and expands it into a creative, active, loving, lusty way of life.

"Not for him is traditional religion's dichotomy of 'material = bad' versus 'spirit = good'; nor the 'fluffy New Age' optimism that shoves the shadow self into the closet and slams the door. He prescribes neither quivering submission to and timid requests of a scornful punisher deity, nor Spartan rejection of the world in seeking a cold and lonely enlightenment.

"His ideas belong in the world, not apart from it; they go boldly into crowds, creating beauty and weirdness, offering a hand to others, and proclaiming the dangerous notion that the world is a rich and beautiful place. He recruits 'guerrilla prayer warriors' and sacred artists and tantric clowns with a charisma and dedication that is thrilling in its possibility and irresistible in its charm.

"This is not a book to read if you are determined to be unhappy or if you don't want your world shaken up a bit. However, if you have the sneaking suspicion that leading a happy, fulfilled life might just not be a heresy, or if you are tired of the status quo and eager for a truly unusual point of view, or if you need the kind of healing that makes you laugh and cry at the same time, or if you have already been crusading for beauty, truth, freedom, and love -- you need this book. It is hope and humor and beauty and love."


is available at Amazon and Powells.

THE TELEVISIONARY ORACLE is also available at Amazon and Powells.