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West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief

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West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief Cover

ISBN13: 9781596910515
ISBN10: 1596910518
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

After spending two years in bed with Lyme disease, Steven Kotler had lost everything: his health, his job, his girl, and, he was beginning to suspect, his mind. Kotler, not a religious man, suddenly found himself drawn to the sport of surfing as if it were the cornerstone of a new faith. Why, he wondered, when there was nothing left to believe in, could he begin to believe in something as unlikely as surfing. What was belief anyway? How did it work in the body, the brain, our culture, and human history?

Into this mix came a strange story. In 2003, on a surf trip through Mexico, Kotler heard of "the conductor," a mythical surfer who could control the weather. He'd heard this same tale eight years earlier, in Indonesia, but this time something clicked. With the help of everyone from rebel surfers to rocket scientists, Kotler undertakes a three year globetrotting quest for the origins of this legend. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfer's journey into the biological underpinnings of belief itself.

Review:

"After surviving a battle with Lyme disease, Kotler finds himself searching for a reason to live and turns to his love of surfing. The novelist (The Angle Quickest for Flight) and journalist travels to Mexico, where he hears a story about a magical being called 'the Conductor,' who controls the surf. Having heard the same tale eight years earlier while surfing in Indonesia, Kotler decides to seek out the legend's source while researching the inherent mysticism of surfers and their sport. Detailing his journey and findings, Kotler creates a work that combines the most compelling elements of memoir, travelogue and scholarly abstract into an accessible tale of physical and mental adventure. Up for anything, Kotler seeks out big waves, bungee jumping and a risky helicopter ride. He also delves into far-flung topics: surfing's history, Joseph Campbell's work on myths, Jungian psychology, Zen Buddhism, government 'weather modification' experiments and the religious beliefs of islanders like the Maori and Hawaiians. The book reaches its peak when Kotler focuses on the inner workings of the human brain. His reasoning of how genetic and biological factors combine with physical and emotional experiences to create the spiritual 'funkytown' feeling unique to surfing is both enlightening and inspirational. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In the end he finds the source of the legend, but by then the Conductor has become secondary to Kotler's quest for the spiritual side of surfing. He wants to know why catching waves offers Zen moments unavailable to, say, motocross riders." Outside

Synopsis:

A spiritual and scientific surf quest.

After spending two years in bed with Lyme disease, Steven Kotler had lost everything: his health, his job, his girl, and, he was beginning to suspect, his mind. Kotler, not a religious man, suddenly found himself drawn to the sport of surfing as if it were the cornerstone of a new faith. Why, he wondered, when there was nothing left to believe in, could he begin to believe in something as unlikely as surfing. What was belief anyway? How did it work in the body, the brain, our culture, and human history?

Into this mix came a strange story. In 2003, on a surf trip through Mexico, Kotler heard of “the conductor,” a mythical surfer who could control the weather. Hed heard this same tale eight years earlier, in Indonesia, but this time something clicked. With the help of everyone from rebel surfers to rocket scientists, Kotler undertakes a three year globetrotting quest for the origins of this legend. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfers journey into the biological underpinnings of belief itself.

Steven Kotler's novel The Angle Quickest for Flight was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Discover, OutsideDetails, Wired, Men's Journal and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
Steven Kotler almost drowned when he got caught on the wrong side of a wave in Mexico. As he emerged from the water, battered and torn, a fellow surfer told him, "It looks like the Conductor had his way with you." This was the second time Kotler had heard of this "Conductor"—the mythical surfer who controls the weather and the waves. Strangely, it was nearly a decade earlier in Indonesia that he was introduced to this mysterious troublemaker for the first time. He almost drowned that time, too.
 
After suffering from Lyme disease for two years, Kotler loses the perfect job, the perfect girl and much of what had been the perfect life. With nothing of any meaning left to him, Kotler sets out to surf around the world in search of the Conductor. As he regains his strength, he begins to have mystical experiences, not unlike those hinted at in the Conductor's myth. In spite of being a committed skeptic, Kotler had out-of-body experiences, felt time stoppages, had moments of ecstasy. Could this be standard neurochemistry triggered by flashes of adrenaline and other brain chemicals? Was he achieving some kind of transcendence? Or was he just losing his mind?
 
In West of Jesus, Steven Kotler starts out on an admittedly mad quest and ends up at the peculiar intersection of neuroscience, spirituality and sport. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfer's journey into the biology of belief.
"A wonderful and engaging book, West of Jesus provides a unique window into the neuroscience of belief. Woven into an enthralling surf narrative, Kotler's quest will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the connection between science, sport and spirituality."—Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of clinical nuclear medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Why God Wont Go Away
 
"Steven Kotler's struggle with Lyme disease leads him on a journey, on a surf trip of sorts, where stories of a Conductor who can control the weather and the waves lead inexorably to a place where physics and metaphysics converge. Here is a strangely exciting tale of coincidence and serendipity sub-populated with shamans, Tibetan White Buddhists and kahunas at the intersection of Stoke and Karma. The Surf Quest, for Kotler, is experienced as a disturbingly real search for the Holy Grail."—Drew Kampion, author of The Way of the Surfer and The Lost Coast
 
"Steven Kotler's West of Jesus is a fascinating and enlightening journey, like a global surfing safari with the coolest professor you never had. A perfect companion for anyone's endless summer."—John Albert, author of Wrecking Crew
 
"Laying to rest the myth of the illiterate beach boy, Kotler's absorbing book speaks to the kind of surfer/reader I've always known: intelligent, complex, curious, spiritually inclined, extraordinary. An unexpectedly moving treat, West of Jesus is just plain wonderful."—Joy Nicholson, author of The Tribes of Palos Verdes and The Road to Esmeralda
 
"After surviving a battle with Lyme disease, Kotler finds himself searching for a reason to live and turns to his love of surfing. The novelist and journalist travels to Mexico, where he hears a story about a magical being called 'the Conductor,' who controls the surf. Having heard the same tale eight years earlier while surfing in Indonesia, Kotler decides to seek out the legend's source while researching the inherent mysticism of surfers and their sport. Detailing his journey and findings, Kotler creates a work that combines the most compelling elements of memoir, travelogue and scholarly abstract into an accessible tale of physical and mental adventure. Up for anything, Kotler seeks out big waves, bungee jumping and a risky helicopter ride. He also delves into far-flung topics: surfing's history, Joseph Campbell's work on myths, Jungian psychology, Zen Buddhism, government 'weather modification' experiments and the religious beliefs of islanders like the Maori and Hawaiians. The book reaches its peak when Kotler focuses on the inner workings of the human brain. His reasoning of how genetic and biological factors combine with physical and emotional experiences to create the spiritual 'funkytown' feeling unique to surfing is both enlightening and inspirational."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Steven Kotler's novel The Angle Quickest for Flight was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, National Geographic, Details, Wired, Men's Journal, Maxim, Salon, and elsewhere. He has surfed all over the world and lives in Los Angeles, California.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Andrew Kaplan, February 1, 2008 (view all comments by Andrew Kaplan)
Through the trope of the surf pilgrimage, Kotler illuminates the many aspects of surfing that have made it not merely a sport, but also a way of life: surfing's connections to religion and spirituality, the mythical tradition, health and neurology. His frank, humorous and spare writing plunges us into the center of the world of surfing. The result is a portrait of faith and the human soul as invigorating as being out there on the ocean ourselves, gliding down the face of a breaking wave.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(6 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781596910515
Subtitle:
Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief
Author:
Kotler, Steven
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
General
Subject:
Spiritual life
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Water Sports
Subject:
Surfers -- United States.
Subject:
General Sports & Recreation
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20070529
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 bandw illus
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Religious
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Water Sports » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Water Sports » Waterskiing and Surfing

West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781596910515 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "After surviving a battle with Lyme disease, Kotler finds himself searching for a reason to live and turns to his love of surfing. The novelist (The Angle Quickest for Flight) and journalist travels to Mexico, where he hears a story about a magical being called 'the Conductor,' who controls the surf. Having heard the same tale eight years earlier while surfing in Indonesia, Kotler decides to seek out the legend's source while researching the inherent mysticism of surfers and their sport. Detailing his journey and findings, Kotler creates a work that combines the most compelling elements of memoir, travelogue and scholarly abstract into an accessible tale of physical and mental adventure. Up for anything, Kotler seeks out big waves, bungee jumping and a risky helicopter ride. He also delves into far-flung topics: surfing's history, Joseph Campbell's work on myths, Jungian psychology, Zen Buddhism, government 'weather modification' experiments and the religious beliefs of islanders like the Maori and Hawaiians. The book reaches its peak when Kotler focuses on the inner workings of the human brain. His reasoning of how genetic and biological factors combine with physical and emotional experiences to create the spiritual 'funkytown' feeling unique to surfing is both enlightening and inspirational. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "In the end he finds the source of the legend, but by then the Conductor has become secondary to Kotler's quest for the spiritual side of surfing. He wants to know why catching waves offers Zen moments unavailable to, say, motocross riders."
"Synopsis" by ,
A spiritual and scientific surf quest.

After spending two years in bed with Lyme disease, Steven Kotler had lost everything: his health, his job, his girl, and, he was beginning to suspect, his mind. Kotler, not a religious man, suddenly found himself drawn to the sport of surfing as if it were the cornerstone of a new faith. Why, he wondered, when there was nothing left to believe in, could he begin to believe in something as unlikely as surfing. What was belief anyway? How did it work in the body, the brain, our culture, and human history?

Into this mix came a strange story. In 2003, on a surf trip through Mexico, Kotler heard of “the conductor,” a mythical surfer who could control the weather. Hed heard this same tale eight years earlier, in Indonesia, but this time something clicked. With the help of everyone from rebel surfers to rocket scientists, Kotler undertakes a three year globetrotting quest for the origins of this legend. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfers journey into the biological underpinnings of belief itself.

Steven Kotler's novel The Angle Quickest for Flight was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Discover, OutsideDetails, Wired, Men's Journal and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
Steven Kotler almost drowned when he got caught on the wrong side of a wave in Mexico. As he emerged from the water, battered and torn, a fellow surfer told him, "It looks like the Conductor had his way with you." This was the second time Kotler had heard of this "Conductor"—the mythical surfer who controls the weather and the waves. Strangely, it was nearly a decade earlier in Indonesia that he was introduced to this mysterious troublemaker for the first time. He almost drowned that time, too.
 
After suffering from Lyme disease for two years, Kotler loses the perfect job, the perfect girl and much of what had been the perfect life. With nothing of any meaning left to him, Kotler sets out to surf around the world in search of the Conductor. As he regains his strength, he begins to have mystical experiences, not unlike those hinted at in the Conductor's myth. In spite of being a committed skeptic, Kotler had out-of-body experiences, felt time stoppages, had moments of ecstasy. Could this be standard neurochemistry triggered by flashes of adrenaline and other brain chemicals? Was he achieving some kind of transcendence? Or was he just losing his mind?
 
In West of Jesus, Steven Kotler starts out on an admittedly mad quest and ends up at the peculiar intersection of neuroscience, spirituality and sport. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfer's journey into the biology of belief.
"A wonderful and engaging book, West of Jesus provides a unique window into the neuroscience of belief. Woven into an enthralling surf narrative, Kotler's quest will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the connection between science, sport and spirituality."—Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of clinical nuclear medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Why God Wont Go Away
 
"Steven Kotler's struggle with Lyme disease leads him on a journey, on a surf trip of sorts, where stories of a Conductor who can control the weather and the waves lead inexorably to a place where physics and metaphysics converge. Here is a strangely exciting tale of coincidence and serendipity sub-populated with shamans, Tibetan White Buddhists and kahunas at the intersection of Stoke and Karma. The Surf Quest, for Kotler, is experienced as a disturbingly real search for the Holy Grail."—Drew Kampion, author of The Way of the Surfer and The Lost Coast
 
"Steven Kotler's West of Jesus is a fascinating and enlightening journey, like a global surfing safari with the coolest professor you never had. A perfect companion for anyone's endless summer."—John Albert, author of Wrecking Crew
 
"Laying to rest the myth of the illiterate beach boy, Kotler's absorbing book speaks to the kind of surfer/reader I've always known: intelligent, complex, curious, spiritually inclined, extraordinary. An unexpectedly moving treat, West of Jesus is just plain wonderful."—Joy Nicholson, author of The Tribes of Palos Verdes and The Road to Esmeralda
 
"After surviving a battle with Lyme disease, Kotler finds himself searching for a reason to live and turns to his love of surfing. The novelist and journalist travels to Mexico, where he hears a story about a magical being called 'the Conductor,' who controls the surf. Having heard the same tale eight years earlier while surfing in Indonesia, Kotler decides to seek out the legend's source while researching the inherent mysticism of surfers and their sport. Detailing his journey and findings, Kotler creates a work that combines the most compelling elements of memoir, travelogue and scholarly abstract into an accessible tale of physical and mental adventure. Up for anything, Kotler seeks out big waves, bungee jumping and a risky helicopter ride. He also delves into far-flung topics: surfing's history, Joseph Campbell's work on myths, Jungian psychology, Zen Buddhism, government 'weather modification' experiments and the religious beliefs of islanders like the Maori and Hawaiians. The book reaches its peak when Kotler focuses on the inner workings of the human brain. His reasoning of how genetic and biological factors combine with physical and emotional experiences to create the spiritual 'funkytown' feeling unique to surfing is both enlightening and inspirational."—Publishers Weekly

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