Lynn Garrett:

One of the seminal figures who introduced Buddhism to a Western audience was Alan Watts (1915–1973), and in February, Sounds True will publish a new edition of Just So: The Book, which was released as an audiobook in 2017 and is being published in print for the first time. In the book, Watts (The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are) asks the question, “What would you change if you were God? What kind of universe would you design?” and provides an answer: “If you went through the trouble of modeling your own universe and seeing what comes of it, you’d eventually settle on the exact model we have now.” Editor Robert Lee says Watts’s answer is, “Essentially, we are God, and this is what we have created, and if we were to have billions of do-overs (which, in some sense, we already have), this is the exact version we’d create—just so.”

Buddhist scholar Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism Without Beliefs, meditates on being alone in the company of others in The Art of Solitude (Yale Univ., Feb.). Batchelor describes how when he turned 60, he took a sabbatical from teaching and turned his attention to solitude, a practice integral to the meditative traditions he has studied and taught. Batchelor’s explorations taught him that in a hyperconnected world that is at the same time plagued by social isolation, readers can learn to enjoy the solitude that is at the heart of the human experience.

I’m a simple man. I see new books by Watts and Batchelor coming soon, I pre-order them. Incidentally, I’ve discovered an actual use for Twitter, even without having an account. I use it to check in with some of my favorite publishing houses to find out about upcoming releases, as well as links to related interviews and articles. Book Twitter is much more tolerable than the plague-infested asylum-cum-charnel house that is Politics/Current Events Twitter.  This link came via Yale University Press’s feed. I’m not sure I really needed a streamlined process of being exposed to temptation, but nonetheless…