Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Anglais) Broché – 7 février 2006
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Ray Bradbury Richard Bach with this book
does two things.
He gives me Flight.
He makes me Young.
For both I am deeply grateful. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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So first, obviously this book is REALLY short. I just re-read it and, without racing at all, I was done in 16 minutes. It's very short. There aren't long, drawn out characterizations here. Jonathan learns to fly well in about 2 pages, and by page 31 he is fully aware of all of his skills. By page 57 he in "Heaven" - or at least in another stage of life in with like-minded seagulls, speaking with telepathy. Chiang is the elder there who tells Jonathan that there actually is no Heaven - that Heaven is the state of being perfect. Jonathan decides to return to Earth and help others. He spends a few pages teaching Fletcher his skills, and then vanishes, leaving Fletcher to teach the new seagull students how to fly. The story ends.
Really, the story here is that Jonathan and Fletcher were not "special" in any way. The point is made many times that they were seagulls like any others. The difference is that they chose to strive to better themselves. They were not content to merely eat and sleep. They wanted to become really good at what they could do - fly. The elders explain that for many people, this process takes many lifetimes. If you do well in a given life, you graduate to a "higher" life where you can then work with people on your next stage of progress. If you just get by in your current life, then you get reborn into that same level, to have another chance to strive.
So it's very interesting how different people have interpreted this book to be a religious tome. Christians often say that Jonathan stands for Jesus. He was born "with men" - he learns his special skills, and then he returns to earth to help guide mankind to be better. There's even a mob scene where the "normal seagulls" try to kill Jonathan for being different. On the other hand, the story clearly says there is no Heaven - that the point of life is to keep trying and trying until you figure out your own path to perfection. The reincarnation and perfection-from-within is very Buddhist. It's not an external God that gives you this perfection. You are born with the innate ability to attain perfection - but it is up to you to find the desire and take the steps to reach it.
I've owned this book for many years and do enjoy it. But I do have to say that it is REALLY short and really basic. The whole Jonathan evolution is barely touched on. You don't get much sense of growth as he instantly goes from normal seagull to glowing Special Seagull. This is sort of a theological primer for those who don't normally read books on philosophy. There are many, many books out there that get into these sorts of topics in a far more meaningful way. But on the other hand, much as the Matrix series got many non-philosophy students to learn about some pretty basic philosophical ideas, this book also opened the door for many people on the ideas of striving for inner perfection. If you handed all of these people a complex tome on the topic, they probably wouldn't have read it. But maybe by getting that door opened, and that interest piqued, they then went forward and learned more. You have to get that interest started somewhere. If the interest came from a super-short, super easy to read, picture-filled booklet, does it really matter?
On a personal note, I really do feel that people need to sit back and consider what they spend their hours each day doing. We only have one life - and most of us who can afford to buy books have an amazing wealth of luck that 90% of the world's population dreams of having. We have clothes, we have places to sleep, we have access to healthy food and water. It would be a wonderful thing if each of us spent even a portion of our day reaching out to help others, to help the world become a better place for us all to live in. We don't need to watch TV - there are other far more important things to do in life.
Presented in the form of a charming parable about a seagull's education in flight, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is about far more than the life of one seagull. It is about each and every one of us, struggling to find the answers, to reach something higher that we are not even yet aware of. We are all a little bit like Jonathan, and when we read Bach's story, we realize that we all have the same power inside. That we can do anything, be anything that we want, if only we can believe in ourselves. Bach's message is a powerful and timeless one that stretches across all barriers to reveal the simple truth that we all, at one time or another in our lives, knew: the most powerful force that exists is that of belief, especially in ourselves.
I can't tell you exactly why you need to read this book. It's not about something as simple as plot or writing style. There is a rare magic in the words that cannot be conveyed by any other means than the experience of reading the book. All I can say is that once you read this book, you will understand.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is different to the other gulls in his flock. He doesn't live to eat, but eats to live and pursue his passion: flight. But his search for perfection and speed doesn't endear him to the other seagulls, that eventually expel him from the flock for daring to be different. To know what happens afterwards, you will need to read this book, because I don't want to spoil the ending.
The real question here, I guess, is whether you want to read a story about gulls... I mean, there are so many good books out there, why read a book about a bird?. The answer is simple: the story in "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" is a metaphor about things that can happen to you in real life. Have you ever felt tempted to do the same that everybody else, just for the sake of conformism?. Have you often felt like given up when something you really want to do demands too much work?. Just think about it...
I believe that many of us are sometimes like most of the gulls in this book, and we need to learn the lessons that "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" gives us: the most important thing is to believe in ourselves, and always do our best without giving up.
I would like to point out that some people say that this book is full of New Age ideas. I really don't think so. Okay, I certainly don't know much about those ideas, and I'm not interested enough to learn more about them. But in my opinion, we often find in a book what we want to find in it.
For me, this is only a charming allegory with a very pertinent message: DON'T ABANDON YOUR DREAMS... For that reason, I recommend this book to you. And whether you read "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" (English edition) or "Juan Salvador Gaviota" (Spanish edition), enjoy it !!!
Most negatives I read just don't like mindless hippy-ness and empty new age philosophy (neither do I); they think the book propagates these things so they condemn it. It only propagates mindlessness if you are short-sited enough to assume that is its message. Don't be.
Most positives I read just demonstrate the mindlessness that the negatives dislike. There is more to get out of this book than the "feel-good" aspect.
To those who think the subject matter is thoughtless: look deeper.
This is a much more accurate view of heaven than what most people have discerned from the Bible. If you want evidence of this, read Mark 12:34 in context. Heaven is not a place.
It also indicates some of Bach's suspicions about the true nature of messiahs (Muhammad, Buddah, Jesus) that the world upholds and a possiblity of their true nature.
It is clear that Bach meant flying for seagulls to represent learning for humans. I am in agreement with him that this is what we do best and what life is about: learning, growing. In fact this is (ironically) the same viewpoint that the negative spotlight reviewer, dbsholes, seems to have (go read new books; don't become stagnant).
I like that the highest rung on Bach's "learning ladder" seemed to be love. This parallels biblical teaching (1 Jn 4:16; 1 Co 13).
The most important idea (in my opinion) that the book hints at is the possiblity that God is not a being, but a mind of which we are a part.
If this sounds like foolishness, read the first chapter of Swarm Intelligence (SI) by James Kennedy and Russel C. Eberhart, a graduate level discussion of minds (with a focus on artificial intelligence). The first chapter of SI is a discourse on the nature of minds (and how much of a misunderstanding most people have about what they really are). I wouldn't immediately buy it unless you are a Computer Science graduate focusing on AI or a Psychology major, but it is definately worth a check-out from the library, although I doubt a non-collegiate library would have it.
We don't have to overcome the laws of nature. Never does the book state that the seagulls are overcoming the laws of nature. They are simply coming to realize that the laws of nature don't limit them, that the only thing limiting them is themselves. We assume the laws limit us when in fact they are the tools set up to help us.
I don't know if Bach thought he was just making this stuff up, but the reality is he has hit the nail right on the head.
There is more to the book than I have listed here. I'll leave the rest for you to discover.