The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon

Overview

Here, for the first time, is the spiritual odyssey of this remarkable artist, honored with John F. Kennedy and Ho Chi Minh in 1969 as Man of the Decade. Mining Lennon's lyrics, poetry, prose, and interviews, Gary Tillery tracks his thinking as it evolved from his troubled, working-class childhood throughout his many roles as Beatle, peacenik, social activist, and househusband.

At the height of fame, in 1965 Lennon crashed and began an honest search for meaning. He came to ...

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The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon

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Overview

Here, for the first time, is the spiritual odyssey of this remarkable artist, honored with John F. Kennedy and Ho Chi Minh in 1969 as Man of the Decade. Mining Lennon's lyrics, poetry, prose, and interviews, Gary Tillery tracks his thinking as it evolved from his troubled, working-class childhood throughout his many roles as Beatle, peacenik, social activist, and househusband.

At the height of fame, in 1965 Lennon crashed and began an honest search for meaning. He came to believe that, for society to improve, people must stop idolizing cultural heroes like he was. With Socrates, Lennon encourages us to view experts with cynicism and think for ourselves. We ought to live life as art and to aim at self-transformation, for our own sake and for a better world. Lennon's songs like "Instant Karma" and "Mind Games" remind us that we ourselves have the power to shape, not a future we dread, but one we want. His legacy endures as a beacon of truth that urges us to be the change we want to see.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
John Lennon will likely be remembered for two things: helping found the Beatles and writing the song “Imagine.” Those accomplishments, however, only scratch the surface of a complex and fascinating life. Writer and artist Tillery explores Lennon’s spirituality as it develops, beginning with childhood traumas, through his time with the Beatles, and finally, in his role as a social activist. Throughout his short life, Lennon fought many existential battles with himself and whatever he thought of as “God.” To interpret Lennon’s spiritual hunger, Tillery draws upon the work of Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and WWII death camp survivor who wrote volumes on the importance of people finding meaning in their lives by focusing outward. The author characterizes Lennon as a loving man who, in the latter part of his life, was able to find some semblance of peace and to encourage others to do the same. Lennon searched for and sang about the truth, discarding religious indoctrination and accepted norms when they proved unhelpful. If this is Lennon’s legacy, one could do a lot worse. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780835608756
  • Publisher: Theosophical Publishing House
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 958,485
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Roots of Rebellion

1 Nowhere Land 11

2 Rock'n' Roll 17

3 Help! 25

Part 2 The Long, Dark Cynical Night

4 God 39

5 Love 51

6 Meditation 61

7 Cynicism 71

Part 3 Life as a Work of Art

8 Reborn Artist 87

9 Peace Advocate 99

10 Social Activist 109

11 Househusband 123

Part 4 Cynical Idealism

12 Superstars 135

13 Mind Games 143

14 Imagine 151

15 Shining On 157

Epilogue 167

Chronology 169

Notes 173

Bibliography 187

Index 193

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Compleat John Lennon

    Gary Tillery has managed in this concise book to offer us a quality biography of the musical giant John Lennon, a biography as sensitive as any in print. Not only does he share the details of Lennon's chaotic childhood, suggesting the factors that built his adult self as an artist who was driven to discover the meaning in a world that seem to lack meaning. But wisely Tillery spends enough time with the personal traumas as well as the germinal events the resulted in the formation of the singing group the Beatles (a clever reference to the Beat generation in altering the beetle spelling!) and the changes that occurred with fame. The book also has a superb chronology that allows the reader to follow the important phases in this man's life and career.

    But the book is not only a fine biography that makes the reader revisit the heyday of the Beatles, it goes much further than that. Tillery uses his matrix of an artist's life to unveil the development of the man who would become a popular philosopher especially among young people asking the same questions that Lennon explored. His wise but common street talk and his actions delved into the important issues of his time - challenging authority and instead searching for our own reality, that reality that allows of self-transformation, fostering the concept of world peace, supporting feminism, and changing the things we feel need revision. Though these ideals may sound simplistic, in Lennon's words and actions he stood for the kind of being that cared for mankind and would settle for nothing less than self improvement and involvement in the deeds that would improve not only his time but also the future.

    What makes Gary Tillery's THE CYNICAL IDEALIST: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN LENNON important is the manner in which he writes: clarity of prose, reality of expression of analyses, and commitment to honor an important man of our times. As Tillery points out the other peace leaders - Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. - met the same end as Lennon, death by assassination or murder. Without resorting to puffery or hero worship, Tillery places Lennon's accomplishments with the arts as well as with the framework of political upheaval of his day to reveal a man who will be remembered not only for his prodigious talent, but also for his influence on philosophical thinking. This is a fine book that deserves wide readership.

    Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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