Steve's Own Page
Just for the record, I am not the Queensland lawyer, the reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, the performer Tuesday Weld, an Internet security consultant, the author of Impossible Worlds, an admiral in the Royal Australian Navy or the writer of the play Rough Diamonds, although we all share the same name. However, in my earlier life, I did grow up in Peterborough, attend the University of Waterloo, broadcast for CKMS, write for the Imprint, live in Toronto, live in the Sutherland Shire and build my own house.
Most Influential Books
These are a selection of the books I have read that I have found to have had the greatest influence on my ideas, philosophies and life. They are listed in alphabetical order by author.
Infidel, (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) This personal account of her life which went from rural Somalia to becoming an MP in the Dutch parliament would be interesting enough in itself, but how she did so under the shadow of Islam made this book fascinating.
Wood in Australia, (Keith Bootle) Although I have always enjoyed woodworking and the beauty of many species of timbers, the very thorough and comprehensive tabulation of hundreds of species of timbers, predominantly although not exclusively Australian, that comprises the large appendix to this work significantly increased my interest in woodworking and timbers themselves with the result that I have used over 30 different species in houses I have owned and furniture I have designed and constructed.
Cosmic Consciousness, (Maurice Bucke) Written at the end of the 19th century before the subject was even vaguely in vogue and following a momentary period of higher consciousness he experienced himself, Bucke, a physician, undertook a lifelong study of such persons as Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, etc. from almost a physiological or clinical perspective. The hypothesis he presents provides a very plausible evolutionary mechanism that credibly explains the conditions these persons experienced, and has provided me with a basis of my own spiritual beliefs.
Childhood's End, (Arthur C. Clark) Although I've read and enjoyed a number of books by Clark, it was this one that I found the most compelling.
The God Delusion, (Richard Dawkins) The book begins with a thorough argument that, from a scientific perspective, there is no evidence for a god, let alone proof, but suggests that religious belief may have had evolutionary benefits. The book goes on to debunk the notion that religious people are better behaved, documents the obscene attempts by religions to sabotage science and argues that religious indoctrination is child abuse. Not only does The God Delusion provide substantial supporting arguments for the sceptic and atheist, it seriously challenges the religious fundamentalists and even religious moderates.
Chaos, (James Gleick) I found this book a very readable account of research into what was then just starting to be referred to as chaos theory by quite a number of researchers that balanced accounts of specific research with theoretical analysis of the subjects of the research. But perhaps more significantly, the book covered, although without specifically discussing them, the underlying subject of what is known and what is knowable.
Meetings with Remarkable Men, (G. I. Guirgieff) While it'd be next to impossible to check the veracity of the lives of the persons and events he described, the men he did meet along his travels were truly remarkable. And when he described, having heard a tale passed by generations of storytellers to and including his father was the same as the subsequently uncovered and translated Epic of Gilgamesh, it gives one cause to reflect on the ability of mankind, in the pre-information age, to accurately record and pass on stories from human memory alone.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, (Sam Harris) This book focuses on faith, the belief in that for which there is no or insufficient evidence and how it, on an individual level diminishes a person's ability to reason, on a mass scale it poses a serious threat to society.
The Magic of Findhorn, (Paul Hawken) Although I might have reacted the same way to any other of the many books on Findhorn, just what the community was able to achieve, interacting with nature as they did, illustrates that no matter how much we may perceive we understand nature, there is so much we don't understand.
God is not Great, (Christopher Hitchens) Although it addresses the same core subject as Dawkins's The God Delusion, God is not Great approaches the subject of religion from a historical and journalistic perspective. The book covers some of the damages caused by religions, illustrates some historical errors and barbaric practices advocated by the Christian bible, attacks the nonsense of so-called intelligent design and provides evidence that counters the notion that religious societies are better behaved that non-religious societies. And as with The God Delusion, God is not Great provide support for the sceptics and atheists and challenges the religious.
Clash of Civilizations, (Samuel Huntington) Huntington's now famous analysis of modern international politics in terms of civilisations, partially religions, partially geographic and partially socio-economic and the clashes between them, provides an interesting perspective on these matters.
Kundalini, the Evolutionary Energy in Man, (Gopi Krishna) Krishna's account of his own experience with the Kundalini, [after which he went on to write a number of excellent non-autobiographical books] which is arguably the same as the Christian Holy Spirit, is largely consistent with the description of higher or cosmic consciousness described by Bucke.
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, (David Lande) Lande's detailed account of the many reasons why European civilisation including countries where it has been transplanted, so dominates the world is comprehensively researched, far reaching and fascinating.
1421, The year China Discovered the World, (Gavin Menzies) This account of the very extensive research undertaken by Menzies over 15 years into voyages taken by Chinese fleets between the years 1421 and 1423, from first noticing islands then thought to be undiscovered on a 15th century European map, is incredible, both for the voyages that the Chinese had then taken and for the extensive research Menzies has taken to trace them.
Delta of Venus, (Anais Nin) The short stories in this book are not only delightful for their varied and intense eroticism, but they also illustrate the chasm between cheap sex and this beautiful erotic writing.
Animal Farm and 1984, (George Orwell) these two books were probably the first books I was required to read at school that I actually enjoyed. But beyond that, they illustrated the political languages of deception, double meanings, of saying one thing in public and another in private, of dilution, even total corruption of ideals, less extreme examples of which can readily continue to be found in a range of spheres of life, from politics to interpersonal relationships.
Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, (Sheila Ostrander, Lynn Schroeder) This account of large number of experiments involving psychic phenomena, granted they may not all have been undertaken with the most rigorous use of controls and double-blind methods, nonetheless illustrates some incredible capabilities of the human brain that some have and perhaps we all have. These phenomena also demonstrate that no matter how much mankind might think it knows about the human condition, there is so much more that we don't know.
Chariots of the Gods, (Eric von Daniken) Although this and the other books he wrote on the topic may now be a little dated, his investigations not always that rigorous and some of his conclusions rather far fetched, when I read this book as a teenager, it presented a very plausible hypothesis, backed up with numerous supporting examples that differed radically to what I had been taught in school and church, and confirmed my deep-seated belief that what they taught me might not have been the whole truth.
In my Own Way, (Alan Watts) The author of a number of books on Zen Buddhism and related topics, this autobiography starts with his childhood determination to follow a life path that did not involve the daily drudge of a 9-to-5, and doing just as he had planned, has, although I have not exactly been able to do likewise, provided something else to aspire to achieving.
The Chrysalids, (John Wyndham) Although this was not the first book I'd read by John Wyndham, whereas the others tended to be interesting and well written stories, to me, The Chrysalids illustrated the horrors of religious fanaticism in this fantasy time and place with clear parallels with our own time and place.
Favourite Pieces of Music
Note: Except for the first two, these are in alphabetical order, not order of favouratism.
Real Life Hits (composed by Carla Bley), Gary Burton, from the album Real Life Hits
Left Lane (Eberhard Weber), Eberhard Weber, Yellow Fields
Ralph's Piano Waltz (John Abercrombie), John Abercrombie, Timeless
Isla (John Abercrombie), John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, Five Years Later
Papillon (on the Wings of the Butterfly) (David Arkenstone), David Arkenstone, In the Wake of the Wind
Vox Humana (Carla Bley), Gary Burton, Dreams So Real
Dwarf's Vision (Sigi Busch), Sigi Busch, Age of Miracles
It's in Her Soul (Alister Spence), Clarion Fracture Zone, Zones on Parade
Afro-Blue (Mongo Santamaria), John Coltrane
Mirovisions (Miroslav Vitous), Chick Corea, Trio Music, Live in Europe
It Ain't Necessarily So (George Gershwin), Miles Davis, Porgy and Bess
Neo (Miles Davis), Miles Davis, Saturday Night at the Blackhawk, Volume 2
Cape Town Fringe (Dollar Brand) Dollar Brand Cape Town Fringe
Take a Pebble (Greg Lake), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Bueno Hora, Buenos Vientos (Jan Garbarek), Jan Garbarek, I Took Up the Runes
Alone Together (Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz), Keith Jarrett, At the Bluenote
Golden Earings (Victor Young, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans), Keith Jarrett, The Cure
Howling Thunder (Kitaro) Kitaro, Light of the Spirit
Skain's Domain (Wynton Marsalis), Wynton Marsalis, J Mood
Sojourner (Paul McCandless), Paul McCandless, Heresay
Slip Away (Pat Methany), Pat Methany Letter from Home
Siderial Time (Ted Moses), Ted Moses, Sidereal Time
Beneath an Evening Sky (Ralph Towner), Oregon, 45th Parallel
Innocente (Ralph Towner), Oregon, Ecotopia
Canyon Song (Ralph Towner), Oregon The Essential Oregon
Days are Numbers (The Traveller) (Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons), The Alan Parsons Project, Vulture Culture
Looking Up (Michel Petrucciani), Michel Petrucciani, Live
To Erlinda (Michel Petrucciani), The Michel Petrucciani Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard
Cantaloupe Island (Herbie Hancock), Jean Luc Ponty with the George Duke Trio Live in Los Angeles
Scarborough Fair/Canticle (Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel), Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge over Troubled Waters
Eleventh of January (Anders Jormin), Bobo Stenson, War Orphans
Nimbus (Ralph Towner), Ralph Towner, Solstice
Grazing Dreams (Collin Walcott), Collin Walcott, Song of the Morrow
Note: These, too, are in alphabetical order.
Gary Burton, Dreams So Real
Chick Corea, Inner Space
Miles Davis, Someday My Prince will Come
Miles Davis, Saturday Night at the Blackhawk, Volume 2
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
Bill Evans, You Must Believe in Spring
Jan Garbarek, Photo with …
Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto, Getz Gilberto
Egberto Gismonti, Danca Das Cabecas
Keith Jarrett, Solo Concerts: Bremen, Lausanne
Keith Jarrett, At the Bluenote
Keith Jarrett, The Sun Bear Concerts
Pat Methany, Still Life Talking
Jean Luc Ponty, Sunday Walk
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians
Ralph Towner, Blue Sun
Andreas Vollenveider, Caverna Magica
On the trail to the Colo River, Blue Mountains National Park, April 2008
With Claudia, Jaime, Stirling, Sally and Mom, January 2008.
With Claudia, Stirling, Jaime and Mom in sunny Victoria, BC, January 2008.
Cooking Lesson, Bangkok, 2005
Niagara on the Lake, 2005
Would you believe I ordered the small size? Paris, 2004
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Shelves I built for my children
A recent significant birthday
In Canada a few months before, with Steve, my mother, Cathy, Susan, Lothar, Doug and Shelly
With Claudia, Stirling and Penny
With Graeme, Trish, Spiz, Nipper (the poodle) and Hume
With Janelle, Trish, Penny, Hans, Claudia, Steven, Aldo and Scott
With Janelle, Claudia, Spiz, Scott and Steven
With Janelle, Stacey, Jason and Adam
Who We Are
© Occidental Communications, 2009