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"Glorious Generalist" Book List

According to Grace Llewellyn's Teenage Liberation Handbook, which I consider the most important book I've ever read, a "Glorious Generalist" is a good thing to be. Here's what the book says (p. 178):

"What, Miss Llewellyn, is a glorious generalist?

"A generalist, in general, is someone who knows about a lot of things. But a glorious generalist must be distinguished from the heap of ordinary generalists.

"The cheap flash generalist merely knows a lot of trivia. If he is especially flashy he can also recite amusing quotes by famous people. Nothing wrong with that, but the glorious generalist goes way beyond.

"The almost-but-no-cigar generalist knows about a lot of things. He may even know a lot about a lot of things. But it stops there.

"If the glorious generalist has a lucky tricky verbal mind, he can also spew trivia and quotes. I often wish I could do that. Pretty likely, the glorious generalist knows a lot about a lot of things, but not until he has been in business for a while.

"The glorious generalist sees the world whole.

"Because he can see the world whole, the glorious generalist can communicate thoroughly with people of every profession, religion, or background. He can pick up any book or magazine and find in it a connection to his own interests. If he is an all-the-way-there glorious generalist, maybe he can do mystical/scientific things like read the meaning of the galaxies in a fistful of sand.

"How does the glorious generalist operate?

"He starts with faith that the universe has meaning. This faith comes in two varieties--he can trust that a God, or an otherwise entitled Ultimate Reality, exists and created all this or guided it into place. Or, he can trust himself and other humans enough to believe that he can make sense of it all, that even if there is no actual collaboration between the pattern of a spider's web and the lyrics to that Led Zeppelin song, he can still weave it together in his mind so that it has harmony and order, like a stained glass window in a French cathedral.

"Also, he trusts language. He believes that with language he can bridge almost any chasm between himself and another person."

That's how it goes on the first page of her Chapter 20, titled the Glorious Generalist [sic]. There is much more, go buy a copy of the book at Grace's web site: Graceland.


The following list of books by glorious generalists is from p. 180:

Christopher Alexander: A Pattern Language; and The Timeless Way of Building
Gregory Bateson: Steps Toward an Ecology of Mind
Julia Cameron: The Artist's Way
Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers: The Power of Myth
Fritjof Capra: The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point
Lewis Carroll: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Annie Dillard: Holy the Firm
Richard Feynmann: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynmann!
John Fire: Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions
Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind
Molly Katzen: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and The Moosewood Cookbook
Barry Lopez: Of Wolves and Men
W. A. Mathieu: The Listening Book
Brat Matsen and Ray Troll: Planet Ocean
John Muir: How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive
Theoni Pappas: The Joy of Mathematics
Michael Phillips: The Seven Laws of Money
Robert Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Tom Robbins: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Laurel Robertson: The New Laurel's Kitchen
Rudy Rucker: Mind Tools
William Wimsatt: Bomb the Suburbs

And from the next page, Wendell Berry: Standing By Words


My email address is: Alan_Nicoll@Yahoo.com

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