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Book Review: “Yoga” – A Brave But Flawed Overthinking Exercise

Henri Chandonnay

Emmanuel Carrère’s novels are powerful satires of intellectual pretenses, but at the expense of engaging storytelling.

yoga By Emmanuel Carrer. Translated from French by John Lambert. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 335 pages, $14.99

There may be no figure in American culture more despised than the self-proclaimed deep “thinker.” Eggheads is a longtime figure in popular his culture, hanging out about reading Dostoevsky and preaching the meaning of time. What is ridiculed these days is that this meditation on higher things is a form of self-righteous escapism. A collapsing climate, rising economic inequality, fragile democracies — shouldn’t these crises play a central role in these uncertain times?

Beyond that are the now-familiar accusations of elitism.Who tells me your opinion is more valuable than mine because of the books you read? It is clear why Evaluate) is so rarely celebrated among book lovers. yoga A very unusual, even revolutionary novel. French journalist and author Emmanuelle Carrère attempts to mince, mince, and satirize the self-satisfaction of mindlessly ranting intellectuals. This series of attacks is admirable, but despite its creative nerve and ingenuity, this is a story that is spun in a vacuum. Seeing consistent ideas gets boring.

Our Carrère-like narrator tells us in advance that this will be a book examining meditation and yoga. Our narrator attends a retreat that demands a ten-day vow of silence and complete separation from the world. He agrees—his life begins to tear at the seams, forcing him to leave Until. Until then, the protagonist tries to make sense of brain isolation through empty abstractions, but fails. Carrère’s mission as a critic is to demonstrate the excesses of intellectualism. The problem is, when this message comes across kicking mindfulness to the curb again and again, it becomes a tedious and arduous task to read. It makes for a welcome surprise — readers begin to empathize with the character rather than want him to stop thinking.

yoga It is most powerful when it dramatizes the assumption of patronizing European white intellectuals who are too easy to appropriate cultural practices. Our narrator smugly assumes we believe his claim that he is an expert, and spends page after page explaining the meaning of various oriental conventions. yogaBecause Carrer does not emphasize it, the white attack on “intellectual colonialism” – the adoption of non-white cultures by white people for academic capital – is effective. It’s the way it is.

The novel’s failure as a compelling story is sealed in the second half. Once our lofty narrator leaves the yoga lair, Carrèle takes him through a series of crazy plot turns. Whether it’s a sudden urge to want to, the protagonist’s adventures are misguided attempts to spark some sort of interest in him as a person. Staring at your navel doesn’t understand. He just goes on, trapped in his overly self-consciousness. And sadly, so does the reader. It doesn’t mean that the problematic characters in fiction have to be resurrected. But Carrère’s intentions here are frustratingly vague.teeth yoga Sending out barren intellectualism? Or are you engaged in it? Aside from its power as satire, what do we think of a story featuring such an obnoxious antihero?

Still, all the shortcomings of this novel aside, its innovative approach is refreshing.How does a solipsism like a burlesque book work? Digging inside and staying there until the story and characters deteriorate is one way to do it. yoga It shows the limitations of that approach.

Henri Chandonnay A current student at Tufts University, majoring in English and Economics with a minor in Political Science.he serves as art editor Tufts Daily, the preeminent campus publication. Henry’s work V magazine, movie credit, dread centralWhen flip screenContact him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryChandonnet.