Reception for The World Behind the World
A personal thanks to readers as well
My latest book, The World Behind the World: Consciousness, Free Will, and the Limits of Science, has been out for almost a month now. For me, one major highlight has been people sharing pictures of the book. I love the physicality of books—writing online is amazing and great for so many reasons, and the benefits outweigh the negatives by far, but there is an irreplaceable tactile and in-the-world quality to books. They are taken out to coffee shops and spend time in bars and make it into home libraries, becoming worn and torn; sometimes they are used to just prop up table legs on uneven surfaces—and there is honor even in that.
It’s found itself all over the world:
And in classic bar-vibe reading scenarios:
And even in quirky enigmatic places, like how I was sent a picture of it “behind ripening mangoes.”
THANK YOU to everyone who bought it, especially the many who sent me photos.
Some people have had trouble getting copies in other countries. However, there’s at least, so far, a Korean version planned, as well as a Brazilian version. I’m sorry if it’s not currently available in your country, it’s just how publishing works, where publishers have to buy rights to distribute it. In many cases, Amazon offers a workaround (don’t ask me how this doesn’t violate copyright but I’m happy about it), and you can order it directly or get a special print-on-demand version from them.
NOTE: If you did read TWBTW, please rate it on Amazon! This helps more than you think. And not just for this book, but my entire writing career—the first thing publishers do when considering a manuscript proposal is look at ratings of your previous books (even moreso than sales).
If you have any questions about the book, drop them in the comments here. And definitely expect this year for me write more here about the subjects of the book, things like consciousness, free will, emergence, the history of consciousness research, etc. I’m returning to my roots!
If you want to see me in person this year, I will be doing a talk about / reading of the book at the HARVARD SCIENCE CENTER on 9/21. The event is organized by the Harvard Book Store. I’ll sign copies there.
Date: Thursday, September 21st 2023
Event Start Time: 6:00 PM
Venue/Location: Hall E @ Harvard Science Center, 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138
I generally have time to talk with and meet people at events like this, and I swear I’m affable in person, so please if you do come say hi—I’d love to meet you.
As usual after publishing a book, I both feel contented with having actually produced something but also temporally unmoored. This goes beyond suddenly looking around and asking: “What’s next?” and extends toward the metaphysical. It is a lightness brought about by uncertainty. You’re familiar with the feeling. We all mark out our lives in some way, choosing our own little Xs on the calendar, from life events to promotions to job offers to moving cities, with birthdays, of course, being shared by all. And have you not, on the first day of entering a new decade, felt both a freshness and excitement at the new vista, and yet one combined with sadness, a nostalgia for a thing already leaving, already gone?