Monthly Archives: December 2017
Although I have known about Napoleon Hill for many years, until recently I had never read any of his books. With its gold letters and black cover, “Outwitting the Devil,” stood out immediately. As soon as I touched the book itself, I knew I needed to read it.
Sharon Lechter, who edits and annotates this book, tells the reader that the manuscript had been locked away and hidden by Hill’s family for seventy-two years. They were frightened by the potential reaction to some of the subject matter, particularly around the topics of education and religion.
The premise of the book is Hill interviewing the Devil. In the book, the author ruthlessly wrestles secrets from the Devil on how the Devil manages to control 98% of all people. Whether or not the Devil is real becomes unimportant; what matters, is the conversation between the two.
There are many interesting ideas in this book, beginning with the idea that the Devil lays claim to those who drift in life. When asked to describe a drifter, the Devil replies with a list of twenty-five characteristics. At the base of these characteristics, however, is a simple, yet profound thought: a drifter is anyone who does not think for himself.
The Devil also gives Hill a description of a non-drifter, as well as how to protect oneself from drifting. These protections include doing your own thinking; deciding definitely what you want from your life; recognizing that time is your greatest asset; and more. One of my favorites is: “Analyze temporary defeat, no matter of what nature or cause, and extract from it the seed of an equivalent advantage.” How beautiful is that! When I read that, I recalled how 50 cents handled the attempt on his life, just as his debut album, Power of the Dollar, was about to launch. He turned all the negatives to his advantage, re-inventing himself to something more in line with who he really was. Rather than fear the shooters, he came out with his first song, “Fuck You”.
What I relate to in Hill’s philosophy is his emphasis on thinking, reason, and will. Both fear and love are the Devil’s tools, as both can override reason and will. Hill rates reason and will as above love in importance to anyone desiring freedom and self-determination. As for fear, Hill’s Devil claims that the six most effective ones are “the fear of poverty, criticism, ill-health, loss of love, old age, and death.”
A good portion of the book is spent on seven principles that can lead to spiritual, mental, and physical freedom. Although taken singularly, these principles may not be new. I was mostly struck by how much they made sense together, as well as some of Hill’s explanation of them. For instance, the second principle is mastery of the self. Not a new idea. According to Hill, part of self-mastery is controlling the desire to express loosely organized opinions. Today’s world is largely fueled by loosely organized opinions expressed through Twitter and Facebook. I can only imagine what Hill would think.
Was Hill really interviewing the Devil? Whatever the answer is, I do know that demons of the mind are as real as anything else is. In any case, I plan on heeding some of the advice in this down-to-earth and insightful book. I’ll get back to you if I happen to meet the Devil myself, along the way.
After many years of writing poetry, I finally decided to start self-publishing chapbooks created around a theme.
I decided to start with poems largely inspired by living here in Venice, California, for over 20 years. Many of these poems first appeared in the Free Venice Beachhead, the longest running collective, underground newspaper in the United States. This monthly, free paper features poems from a variety of people. Famously, it published beat poets Stuart Perkoff and Philomene Long.
The book, “The Lady Still Resides Here,” is now available on Amazon. If you are local, please come out to my book signing and celebration of poetry on January 31st, 2018. The event will be from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Mystic Journey Bookstore, 1624 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice.
The evening will begin with me reading and signing my book. Following this, there will be refreshments and an open mic for guests to read one of their own poems or one of their favorite poems.