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The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon
The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon (Paperback)
By Gary Tillery
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A radio playlist could easily follow John Lennon’s "Mind Games" with "Do Ya Think I’m Sexy." But comparing the two, it becomes obvious that Lennon had more in common with the great thinkers of any age than with the songwriters who were his contemporaries. Cynical Idealist reveals, for the first time, the spiritual odyssey of this extraordinary man. Out of a turbulent life, from his troubled, working-class childhood throughout his many roles Beatle, peace advocate, social activist, househusband Lennon managed to fashion a philosophy that elevates the human spirit and encourages people to work, individually and collectively, toward a better world. Like Socrates, Lennon wanted to stimulate people to think for themselves. "There ain’t no guru who can see through your eyes," he sings in "I Found Out." Cynical Idealist beautifully articulates this and the other lessons John Lennon passed along through his songs and through the example of his life.
Praise for The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon…
The closest thing to a post-mortem sofa session. Lennon is sympathetically sliced and projected in the context of his time, leading to a sharp image of a spiritual man who became larger than life while feeling very small. Oh, and readable too.
-Corjan de Raaf, singer/songwriter
Like most creative people, John Lennon was a complex character, part well-meaning, often starry-eyed idealist, part leather-jacketed teddy boy, with much else thrown in to boot. Whatever your take on him, the thinking-man's Beatle was the first in a cadre of rock stars who used their celebrity as a force for good, anticipating later figures like Bono and Bob Geldof by decades. Lennon's ambivalent relationship with a number of self help/spiritual fads mirrored the shifting moods of more than one generation, and for teenagers like myself coming of age in the 70’s, he was the conduit for a number of worthy causes: peace, women's rights, and the painful exploration of the self. Most books on Lennon focus on the skeletons in his closet. This one shows where his heart was.
-Gary Lachman, Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer, former bassist for Blondie, and author of Turn Off Your Mind
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.
-Publishers Weekly, Nov. 9, 2009