Tag: Literary Thoughts

The Artist as Mystic by Yahia Lababidi and Alex Stein

Posted December 20, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

The Artist as Mystic by Yahia Lababidi and Alex SteinTitle: The Artist as Mystic (Goodreads)
Author: Alex Stein, Yahia Lababidi
Published: Onesuch, 2012
Pages: 86
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Author

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I’m going to have to borrow the blurb for this book, because I think it best summarises this book. The Artist as Mystic is a set of lyric conversations between aphorists Yahia Lababidi and Alex Stein. These conversations constitute what Australians call a ‘Songline’ — a set of sacred songs that allow the reader/listener to navigate through an unknown terrain, in this case, populated by tortured and ecstatic souls: Kafka, Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kierkegaard and Ekelund.

I’ve never really read something like this, blending biographical elements with literary criticism, but then it takes it a bit further by documenting conversations between Yahia Lababidi and Alex Stein and adding a reflective poem to each essay by Lababidi. It’s like being a fly on the wall and listening to two very intelligent people bounce thoughts and ideas off each other about literary ideas.

While it often felt more like an interview rather than a conversation, I never felt bothered by it; Yahia Lababidi has a lot of insight and knowledge and I think Alex Stein made a very strategic move by stepping back and letting Lababidi run free with his thoughts. While this may come across as very dense book, I found the book very accessible.

The Artist as Mystic is a thought provoking look at people I’ve had a real interest in understanding better; Kafka, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard as well as an insight into a few new ones I need to learn about. I’m not a very intellectual person, I do try but what I got out of this book was just how well it helped me understand the ideas it wanted to get across. Yahia Lababidi never talked down but rather mentored the reader along, making this the most impressive aspect of the whole book. I felt inspired by this book and plan to read this book with a highlighter and a notepad sometimes in the future.