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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: Review

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Title: The Subtlety

Book: The Subtle art of not giving a F*ck

Author: Mark Manson


ISBN: 978-0-06-264154-0

Published by: Harper One

Life is indeed a funny thing to find yourself in the middle of. You don’t know where you came from nor do you know where you are supposed to go, and in the middle of all this, you find people who influence it in various directions. Some steer it towards fame, some towards materialism, and some towards pleasure. Many of these captains write about their exploits thus trying to help others. To make them feel good about themselves, to make them achieve the ‘unachievable’ and to captain their disastrous ships into high seas and make them a part of an ‘immortality project’ where a person legacy lives on, even after their physical death has long been passed. In that context Mark Manson’s book is different. It is unlike many of the self-help books that are now available in the market. For at no level does the book offers advice towards an ‘immortality project’ and even if it does, it does so subtly and through means where life itself and being at peace inside one’s own body is far more important than anything else.

The book is interspersed with episodes in Mark’s own life, his own philosophies and things that he has read which have had an influence on him. He shares anecdotes which have moved him, depressed him, disturbed him and eventually made life more meaningful for him. Thus, focusing on those aspects and those aspects only which, according to Mark, are worth giving a ‘F*ck’. All the others are not because they won’t lead you anywhere. Pain is fundamental in Mark’s philosophy and in many ways is the only thing which will help make meaning out of this complex and frustrating event that they call life. But trying to achieve all the things in the world, trying to care about what everyone thinks and trying to be the most popular person are not things which are worth the effort and time because they are outward and based on things we have little influence over.

Mark’s book has references of the Japanese soldier called Hiroo Onoda, who fought in the World War II and for twenty-nine years after it was over. The story of resilience and ideology that Onoda lived for, is representative of the fact how people will find worth in the most toiling circumstances if they find meaning in it. These are the things worth giving a ‘F*ck’ about, for these are the things that are truly meaningful. All the others are not. The book titled ‘ The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne talks about the power of positive thinking and the philosophy that is called ‘ The law of Attraction’  where ‘like attracts like’. Mark Manson’s maxims disagree to a certain extent with this law by positing that the desire for more positive experiences is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. It creates a load of people who are not comfortable with who they are and waste a large portion of their ‘wanting to be’ rather than just ‘being’.

While the subtle art is continuously questioning on its way and subtly holding the existentialist doctrine of Sartre in its ideology, where the real responsibility lies with the individual in question and no-one else, the question is does it achieve what it set out to do? i.e to make people comfortable with failure, with death, and to not get trapped in bad values of materialism, entitlement and immortality projects. Perhaps it does in a language accessible to the masses, in a thought simple enough to be understood, and with experiences easily relatable. It is a unique self-help book that doesn’t offer greatness on the other side, just the simple subtlety to not care a f*ck that don’t deserve it.