Before most of you were born, the American writer, Norman Mailer, brought out a book with this title. Not being keen on Mailer (I seem to have an aversion to pugilistic writers inclined to stab their wives), I never read it. But here I would like at least to purloin his title in order to do something I trust will be less violent, though perhaps still a little unseemly. You see, I may need to ask your help with a new book of mine.
Here's the story. I’ve just published my latest – and my last – book of essays, which I’ve entitled Blogging Toward Infinity: Last Notes from the Ringdom. Some of you – I hope many of you – have already read some of the blogs in this book, but I doubt that any of you have read all of them. Now, here’s your chance in case you missed some of my imperishable writings. Anyway, here’s what the cover looks like:
And here’s link to the book in case you’d like to check it out: https://amzn.to/3SFtwdZ
Since this is my farewell to writing books, the cover shows me waving goodbye as I go off into the infinite distance, not to death, but to the death of writing books. Since I’ve written more than twenty books over the last forty years or so, I think it’s time to retire my fingers and use them for better purposes, such as remembering to cut my fingernails before people mistake me for Howard Hughes.
But seriously, I’m not just asking you to consider buying my book, though perhaps some of you will, or, if you do, whether you would be kind enough to write a review and post it on Amazon, which would be nice and appreciated. No, I would like to ask you another favor, if you’d consent to become a part of my coalition of the willing.
You see, although I don’t expect to retire on the royalties from the sale of this book, I would like to avoid ending my life as a literary failure. So, to avoid that sorry fate, since I am not able to use a professional publicist to hoot the horn for my book, I’m hoping that some of you would be willing to post something about this book on your Facebook page or other social media that you use. Please don’t do this if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. In that case, just delete this blog and don’t bother to read the rest.
But if you’d care to help me promote this book, here’s what the publisher wrote up about it, which you could perhaps use:
This is Ken Ring’s last book, and though he claims to spend most of his days whimpering, his farewell to writing, as his final essays will demonstrate, certainly goes out with a bang. As he veers unsteadily toward 87, Ring has lost none of his verve or literary panache. As always, his essays sparkle with his usual wit, but mainly reflect Ring’s more serious concern to address some of the topics that have engaged him during this last phase of his life.
Still, the book begins in a more lighthearted way with his reminiscing about his early life with his absent father (“my father, once removed,” he calls him) and about some of the other things that shaped his character, such as the greatest movie ever made that few people have heard of. He also devotes several essays to largely unknown facets of Helen Keller’s extraordinary career, including “the sex life of a saint.” But most of the rest of book is devoted to Ring’s careful study of the lives of animals and considerations of animal welfare and the movement for animal rights. And it concludes, fittingly enough, with a number of essays that distill what Ring believes are the most important lessons that people should take from his many years of researching near-death experiences – all of which was foreshadowed by that film he saw as a youth that changed his life and foretold his destiny.
Or perhaps you might want to quote from my preface:
You now hold in your hands – unless you are reading this on your screen – my last book. Of course, I don’t mean my most recent book; I mean the last book I will ever write. Yes, you’ve heard this vow before. Each time I write a book nowadays, I tell you (and my publisher) that it is absolutely, positively and definitely my last book, which turns out to be true until one day, it isn’t. However, now that I am heading toward 87 and the scrap heap, I am convinced that I have finally reached the end of my writing life. From now on, I intend to devote myself to perfecting my cribbage game while I can still count.
But before I go down for the count, I had better tell you what you will find if you can get past this preamble.
In recent years, I’ve been too lazy to write the kind of books I published when I had some misguided notion that I had something worth writing about, such as near-death experiences. So, eventually, after I became an octogenarian, I took to writing blogs. I would then re-brand them as “essays,” round them up and put them into a book. I called my first such endeavor, Waiting to Die, but then when I didn’t, I brought out a second collection, which I entitled, Reflections in a Glass Eye. The first book did rather well; the second one, with its meaningless title, was a dud. If the third time is really “the charm,” I’m golden.
In this book, you will find “some of my favorite things.” It begins with some accounts of my personal history as a youth and continues with recollections of friends once dear to me. This is sort of my faux-Proustian version of “in search of lost time.” In the next section, I present some portraits of well-known figures about whom I figured I could tell you some things you never would have guessed.
The final two sections are much longer. The first is about one of the great loves of my later years. Having had my share of romances with the ladies, I have come to love animals. Not that I live with any, but I love to read and write about them. And to strike a serious note for once, if briefly, I worry about their welfare, as you will see. And, finally, I return to an earlier love, my NDE work, and try to bring out not only some new developments in that field, but what I think everyone should know about these experiences, preferably before they die. And that includes me, just in case I can ever manage to cross that final finish line instead of interminably waiting to die.
Or, hell, just write what you please.
If you need to identify me professionally, you could use this brief bio:
Kenneth Ring, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, the author of five books on near-death experiences (NDEs), including his bestselling Lessons from the Light, and cofounder and first president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS).
OK, that’s my pitch and request. I hope you don’t find it too shamelessly self-serving, but at least I never stabbed any of my wives.
Ken, you are definitely not shamelessly self-serving. Does the lifeguard apologize for drawing attention to himself when he dives in to rescue a drowning child? Does the soup kitchen staff apologize for looking like saints when they provide free meals to the poor? I've read all five of your books on near-death experiences. I've quoted from them in talks about the same. Mostly, I've embraced a universe of consciousness, marveling at the infinite ways in which it manifests.ReplyDelete
I know the body you are projecting is going to come to a standstill at some point, but you are in good company for this as the entire known universe is engaged in the same. Even galaxies are born, have a life cycle, and transition into something else. My own father is close to making this transition as well and I so much want to anticipate it with him with excitement and consider it an adventure, something to be embraced as a friend rather than feared as an enemy.
As much as I know my father is going to continue on past his "death," I will miss his body. It may sound odd for me to say I will miss his body, but this old, wrinkled, hunched-over body is the same one that held me in his arms as a baby and comforted me when I was sad or injured. I know there are many who will miss your body as well.
Your books on NDEs have opened up the universe to me as playful place, an adventure only limited by our own imagination. You should never apologize for promoting your works. No one else is going to do it. I so hope someone will promote your books after you die. I think they will still be published like the writings of William F. Barrett and Frederic Myers. They certainly deserve to be read a hundred years from now. I hope your messages are taken for granted by then and a whole new era of spirituality is embraced as obvious.
None of us knows who will make this transition next. We are all in this together. I know that whether I make this transition an hour from now or twenty years from now, in either case it will be today. Any of us can go at any time. I could easily go before finishing this senten
Ken, no need for any apology for your desire to get a good blurb for Blogging toward Infinity, a realm where I hope to meet you if not sooner. I have all your books and continue to be mesmerized by your earlier work on NDEs of blind persons. You and the Ringdom have contributed mightly to the work of your colleagues Raymond Moody, Bruce Greyson, Jeff Mishlove, Jim Tucker, Jeff Long, Peter Fenwick, Ed Kelly, Dean Radin, and Pim von Lommel. I feel also a personal connection because my early college girlfriend was at U. Conn and now I live just N of you in Santa Rosa. I look forward to reading Blogging toward Infinity and assume it will be as rich, clever, ribald and anticipatory as your earlier forays. Keep up the insights and never retire no matter the bones. We need the Ringdom to escape Trump's Kingdom. Rudy GerberReplyDelete
Rudy Gerber, lawyer-judge-philosopher.
Dr. Ring, I just learned about your work from a book called ‘The Holographic Universe’. I am interested in reading your papers and books, the reason being is that I’ve had a near-death experience myself. I was suffering from terrible anxiety and panic attacks. I had an eating disorder and was exhausting my body both through starvation and overworking and overachieving. I had a shift in consciousness two years ago and now everything seems very different to me. I am more interested in giving and having compassion toward myself and others. I’ve been trying to make sense of all of this. I sometimes feel like no one can understand what I’ve been through. I didn’t receive support or help from anyone and I was literally feeling that I couldn’t live much longer for two or three years straight. My body was in complete exhaustion. This was happening while I was pursuing my PhD. I felt so lonely at the time. And, I don’t think things will go back to what they were in the past. But the entire experience has shown me that I need to appreciate life the way it is and be loving and kind to all living beings. I would be happy to read your work and get some deeper understanding of near-death experiences.ReplyDelete