James Gault reviews THE MAN WHO COULDN’T STOP THINKING by Timothy Balding
Last time, I reviewed Timothy Balding’s newly-released second novel, The Impostors. And here I am reading him again, but it’s not that he is producing work as fast as I can read it. It’s just that his second book was so relevant to me that I had to read his first.
There is an important difference between the second and first novel. ‘The Impostors’ was a philosophical novel, but this one is better termed ‘novelised philosophy’. It sacrifices some depth of characterisation and plot development in favour of the opportunity to expound the author’s philosophy project in a more explicit way. This would, I think, make it less appealing to the general reader, but for those of us with an interest in philosophy this book is more meaty and satisfying.
The story is about how the protagonist, Victor, is concerned with getting to know his thoughts. He does this by internal debate but also by discussing his views with the other characters in the story. Some are sympathetic, some not at all. Eventually Victor comes to the conclusion that the opinions and advice of others are neither helpful nor necessary. If he asks himself what he thinks, it is only he himself who can answer. Who else does he need?
Like all good novels, this story has a message, and it this: if all people in power were able to really objectively understand their thoughts, the world would be a more peaceful and happier place.
The characters are certainly credible and the plot cleverly constructed as a medium to carry the message. It’s a book to read not so much for the story but for the ideas behind it. These ideas intrigued me so much I got in touch with the author to discuss them, and our conversation is recorded in this edition of the on-line magazine. (Click here)
As a book which introduces a novel way of thinking about thinking, this book is perfect.