Review by J.R. Slosar
Peter Clothier has opened his life and inner world as a gestalt background which allows us to put up and compare our own sense of self and identity for subjective analysis. This becomes a psychological figure/ground comparison.
Clothier presents so many day to day anecdotes it is impossible not to examine your own inner world. The family dog, his friends/mentors/family, bedside death, his long marriage and partner, and his aging and the inevitable are woven with his own personal thoughts and exploration. Of the most powerful disclosures is his own childhood sexual abuse. The life stories are varied but all are essential aspects of development and life.
Within the personal sharing and depth are still the traces of his academic pursuit of knowledge. The links to Buddhism are discussed, but there is much for the philosophical mind to relate to Existentialism and historical figures such as C.S. Lewis and Freud who both arrived at different places about God and afterlife.
Certain terms jump out to me: inner mind, authenticity, ego involvement, harmony, rebirth, “going home”, and the illusion of freedom. All correlate with current interests in mindedness or psychological mindedness. Clothier struggles in a healthy way with the creative mind. The idea for essays and the book come when he is supposed to block thoughts while meditating! Only the healthy mind allows this to happen. As a psychologist, I view this as a higher level of self awareness, the capacity to hold conflicting thoughts—and make the most of them.
I also sense that Clothier was grasping to resolve realistic cognitive thinking with the creative process. For example, he talks about “stripping down” the mind but he isn’t doing that. In several parts we can see the modern day struggle with productivity and analysis and reaching a goal versus the development of one’s inner and deeper internal world. My own image that came to me within the struggle I perceived and felt, was trying to maintain one’s capacity for surprise.
Stiil, within the pages is a structure and a background he creates for one’s own reflections about life. The ease and style of the book along with his personal sharing allows the reader to have an experience of self growth in a natural and non threatening way.
Jay Slosar, Ph.D.
Jay Slosar is a Clinical Psychologist in practice in Irvine, CA. He is the author of The Culture of Excess: How America Lost Self-Control and Why We Need to Redefine Success (ABC-CLIO/Praeger, 2009).
What drives us to create? Grounded in Buddhist meditation practice, "Mind Work: Shedding Delusions on the Path to the Creative Core" discusses the path to creativity and the many routes we take as people towards it in trying to gain a more complete understanding of our world. An assortment of essays that ponder the nature of thought and death, "Mind Work" presents much to think about for those who are following their own path to creativity in life. -Midwest Book Review
Aristotle once said that the art is to hide the art. As you read Peter Clothier's latest book, you feel that you are sitting down to a warm fire with a glass of wine and conversing with a thoughtful reflective person about everyday challenges and the extent you are able to bring your practice to them. Peter's masterly writing leaves no trace of artifice or effort. Free from strident dogma and doctrinaire morality, these quiet contemplations gently resonate with your own challenges, and leave you wondering: what are you doing with your life?
-Ken McLeod, Unfettered Mind
Peter Clothier's Mind Work is evidence... that a closely examined life is a rich and rewarding one. We are offered that rare thing, the privilege of witnessing a life unfolding, intelligently and humanely, toward ever-deeper wisdom and compassion.
--Bodhipaksa, author of Wildmind: A Step-by-Step Guide to Buddhist Meditation and Living as a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change
What the reader gets is a first-hand account of what it is to be a human being in pursuit of greater attention, clarity and compassion. The Buddha taught nothing more than that... Mind Work is a testament to the integral endeavors of a human being, no more, no less. --Stephen Schettini, author of The Novice, and of the blog The Naked Monk
[I am] inspired by the author s grappling with the human condition. This important book portrays a life well lived. Clothier deftly weaves family history with metaphysical questioning.
--Gregg Chadwick, artist and author of Speed of Life: Studio Notes of a Contemporary Artist
Peter Clothier has given us a look into his life in such a way that we can find ourself. The essay format is one in which this gifted man creates stories that are interesting, and a tasty bit of food for thought in bite size increments.Each essay takes you deeper and deeper into the heart of the matter with tenderness and humor a wonderful read and one worthy of revisiting again and again.
--Mr. Barbara Wright (Amazon)
Peter Clothier has spent a life helping others find beauty, moments of transcendence, invitations to experience from within, and ways to communicate responses to the intangible exposure to the arts. He is an articulate, erudite and eloquent writer, having provided open doors for artists to understand their compulsion to create while simultaneously offering his thoughts to the general public on how to find that magic in art that has opened more minds and hearts to the world of visual art than probably any writer today. He also is a highly respected teacher at some of our finest art schools: the number of artists who acknowledge his influence includes some of our most important practitioners working today.
But in this book MIND WORK: SHEDDING DELUSIONS ON THE PATH TO THE CREATIVE CORE Peter Clothier focuses on his personal journey to understanding himself and in turn helps the reader traverse that apparent labyrinth of existence toward finding the inner core of the meaning of being. In many ways this is his journal of how he has used dharma and the teachings of Buddha in his constant striving toward disambiguation. Throughout his book he inserts the three phrases `This is not me. This is not Mine. This is not who I am.' quite liberally, and by book's end the reader has that wakening moment of the `Aha!" that is certain to bring a new level of joy to life.
Not that Peter Clothier preaches or uses his book as an indoctrination of Buddhism. That `task' or hobby he willingly shares on his blog The Buddha Diaries, a site for which he writes daily and accepts questions and offers insights to the followers there. MIND WORK is Peter Clothier undressing for us. He shares little moments of time and thought under any number of topics with the aim of suggesting how each of us should follow his steps in discovering who we really are. He addresses a question posed to him as to how he, as one of our most honored art critics, would approach a full frontal nudity portrait: he then proceeds to describe his body from toes to head, sharing his own fears of perception about his body's appearance, weight, aging effects and with each facet of what he sees standing nude in front of a mirror he gently adds the triptych saying listed above (`This not me...etc') - and in doing so he offers one of the most well observed `self portraits in words' imaginable!
Clothier addresses his experiences with death, sharing his being present for the passing of two family members and the preparation for that great event, that final step of this cycle of life. He shares his British education and the emotional isolation of that experience along with the appreciation for the quality of teaching and learning admixed with his fear of athletic activity from the vantage of a child whose body image was perceived as imperfect. In a passage titled `Meet my Egos' he shares the different aspects of his personality and shows us how, if we follow his path, we will find a way of altering our vision of who we are and why. He shares events of his past (including an incident of abuse and his ambiguous feelings about that), his concepts of family, world affairs, medicine, and so many other topics that are all bound together by what he sees as his passion - writing.
Having followed and admired the writings and critiquing and essays and talks of Peter Clothier for some years now, this reader continues to find him a source of inspiration, wisdom and compassionate humanity. He is a unique being (whoever his `not me' is) and we are fortunate he elects to share himself with us, for us, so gently. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING.
--Grady Harp, January 12 (Amazon)
Peter Clothier's "Mind Work" explores the history and spiritual dimensions of his inspiring life. Clothier is known for insightful writing on the arts and artists and this history adds a rich luminosity to the events depicted in "Mind Work". The volume delves deeply into a life well lived and inspires us to consider our own lives in a spirit of humility and acceptance.
The book is structured into a series of essays that reflect an admiration for Montaigne's writings. In this spirit, each chapter of Mind Work dwells upon a singular idea and illuminates this idea with episodes drawn from Clothier's experiences.
"Mind Work" deftly weaves Peter's family history into essays rich with metaphysical questioning. Looming behind much of Clothier's life is the recurring struggle to both live up to his father's dreams for him and to overcome them. In one pivotal chapter, Clothier and his wife Ellie encounter, for the first time, Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses in the Church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome. Clues to Peter's past, present and future are found in that moment. As I read that passage, I pictured all the Peter Clothiers depicted in the book - from the just named infant, to the wounded boy, to the young man on the train to Spain, to the adolescent bloodied in a German car crash, to the young father unsure of life and family, to the art writer, to the academic, to the inspirational man that Peter is today.
The Buddhist practice of meditation plays a vital role in Peter's life. Discussions of Buddhism provide an interconnecting thread throughout "Mind Work". In essence, life for Peter can be seen as a series of actions and then the result of these actions. Peter's mantra, "This is not me. This is not mine. This is not who I am.", guides us through "Mind Work" and reminds us of the inspired discipline found in his spiritual struggles and triumphs.
Peter Clothier's "Mind Work" honestly grapples with one man's life and expands the viewpoint to help us consider the human condition. The writing in "Mind Work" is cinematic and brings us face to face with the rich life and the fertile mind of Peter Clothier.
--Gregg Chadwick, author of Speed of Life