Monday, March 19, 2012

This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias B. Freese

In this impressive and varied collection of creative essays, Mathias B. Freese jousts with American culture. A mixture of the author's reminiscences, insights, observations, and criticism, This Mobius Strip of Ifs examines the use and misuse of psychotherapy, childhood trauma, complicated family relationships, his frustration as a teacher, and the enduring value of tenaciously writing through it all.

Freese scathingly describes the conditioning society imposes upon artists and awakened souls. Whether writing about the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti, poet and novelist Nikos Kazantzakis, or film giants such as Orson Welles and Buster Keaton, the author skewers where he can and applauds those who refuse to compromise and conform.

The profound visceral truths in this book will speak to anyone who endeavors to be completely alive and aware.

It’s not an easy task to review a book composed of essays, especially when they are as deeply personal as these are. However, I do want to share some of the thoughts I had.

First of all, there is no doubt Mr. Freese is a writer at heart, and soul, and everywhere that’s important. His words, his phrases, are organic, the kind that seem so simple yet really are not. They have layers of meanings that deserve many consequent readings. Sure, there are a few moments where I found myself wishing he’d whittled some down to their bare bones, so that the truth in what he was trying to say could come through unencumbered, but these moments were few and far between.

As far as content, the essays cover everything from Freese’s favorite movies to his views on philosophy. His thoughts on education, in particular, struck me. It was surprising to read, from a former teacher, all the faults many of us see in the educational system. I found myself nodding violently at the manner he describes his struggles with a society (a world, really) that abhors creativity and that finds anyone who doesn’t fit into their molds threatening. The candid manner in which he shares with the reader about his daughter’s illness and consequent death is heartbreaking in the way only truthful prose can be.

This is not an essay collection for everyone. If you are looking for some quick reading that will entertain you for a few hours, then this is not it.
This collection will make you think about everything around you until your head hurts and you have to put the book down. I enjoyed it very much, so I will recommend it to all of you out there who want something refreshingly, intelligently different.


JC Jones said...

I love the cover and it sounds like a very good book to read and think about.

matt Freese said...

Martin Green, an amateur photographer from out of New Zealand did the cover photo. His work can be accessed at
It is a pleasure to be read by a sensitive -- and knowing -- reviewer, by a fellow artist.
Kind regards,
Matt Freese

Unknown said...

Sounds like a very interesting and thought provoking book.

Katy B said...

This is a title I probably never would have entertained as a possible read, but I'm glad to have caught your review here (linked through www meme). From what you've said, I would definitely consider it now.