…“I wanted to write a book about how you can look at the world as a singular psychiatric patient, as a case study,” [Haig] explains. “How so many of the problems that the world faces are parallel to what a depressed or suicidal or scared person would do if they were seeking rash solutions.” The Guardian, regarding Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet
According to Lisa Allardice, The Guardian, Matt Haig‘s newest book’s “overriding message is that in a world of ever-accelerating change and technological overload we need to slow down and ‘SWITCH OFF’ (Haig’s capitals).”
A pertinent quote from Notes on a Nervous Planet:
I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.
Additional description of Nervous Planet from Claire Hennessy, Head Stuff: “…(A)s Haig puts it, ‘we live in a 24-hour society but not in 24-hour bodies’ – and to not keep up with it is shameful; none of us get enough sleep but despite medical advice to the contrary, we wear this as a badge of pride. Our smartphones make us constantly available, which means we never switch off – and we know this already, but we need to hear it over and over before it properly sinks in.”
Whereas his first nonfiction book, Reasons to Stay Alive (2001)—see my previous post—was about Haig’s depression, this one, you may have already deduced, is about his anxiety. Nicole Karlis, Salon:
Readers who have experienced anxiety without a tangible cause will find comfort in Haig’s words and vulnerability. Haig articulates much of what isn’t working for humans in today’s world while refraining from being too cynical. Climate change, the news, technology, and the human desire to always want more are taking a toll on our mental health, Haig explains. ‘The paradox of modern life is this: we have never been more connected and we have never been more alone,’ he writes. Haig’s book is not a ‘how-to’ guide on how to navigate the chaos; rather, Haig believes the mere act of identifying the problem can help one find the solution itself.
Kirkus Reviews, regarding Haig’s recommendations: “Haig’s solutions align with the current trend of mindfulness exercises—conscious breathing techniques, meditation, walks in nature, etc.—but he also expounds on the deeper benefits derived from reading good books and other activities. His prescription is to embrace the best of what modern culture has to offer and attempt to find balance rather than allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the increasing demands of so much social and technological stimuli. As he notes, ‘a completely connected world has the potential to go mad, all at once.'”
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