Release Date: 27 April 2010
A literary ode to peace, presence, and fulfillment inspired by a walk taken with a most surprising creature.
"The demon of speed is often associated with forgetting, with avoidance ... and slowness with memory and confronting," observes Milan Kundera in his novel "Slowness." With that purpose in mind--a search for slowness and tranquility--Andy Merrifield sets out on a journey of the soul with a friend's donkey, Gribouille, to walk amid the ruins and spectacular vistas of southern France's Haute-Auvergne. As Merrifield contemplates literature, science, truth, and beauty amid the French countryside, Gribouille surprises him with his subtle wisdom, reminding him time and again that enlightenment is all around us if we but seek it.
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Reviews of The Wisdom of Donkeys: Finding Tranquility in a Chaotic World:
"In The Wisdom of Donkeys: Finding Tranquility in a Chaotic World, author Andy Merrifield takes a page from the Slow Food movement and goes on a Slow Journey--walking with a donkey along the picturesque roads and trails of southern France. This delightful travelogue recounts his physical wanderings and his mental meanderings as he learns to slow down enough to experience bliss.""-Body + Soul Magazine"
'"I felt long ago that the grown-up world isn't all it's cracked up to be, that I had to invent my own truths to get by." So Andy Merrifield, professor of geography, biographer of French philosophers, child of Liverpool, went looking for peace of mind. Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's 1879 book "Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes," he decided to go walking. Key to this journey was a donkey, Gribouille (a variant of "doodle" or "scribble" in French). "Time slows down amid donkeys," the author writes. "In their company things happen quietly and methodically. It's hard to forget their innocent gaze. It's a calm that instills calm. Your mind wanders, you dream, you go elsewhere, yet somehow you remain very present." Heidegger, Schubert, Chesterton and others are companions on this journey. But Merrifield is looking for his own lost self as well: "Hitherto, I'd lived my life sort of vicariously, modeled myself on somebody else, a character in a book, a famous writer, a famous professor." Searching for silence after a life of noise, he hears rain, birds, insects, church bells, wind and owls -- some of these for the first time. "I can't help thinking," he notes at the end of his trip, "that daydreams make us, that our little life is rounded with reverie rather than sleep."'-SusanSalter Reynolds, "Los Angeles"" Times"
"It is too seldom that the Spiritual Living section of LJ has an opportunity to read and review a real love story, but this is such a book, the affecting and eloquent account of a man and a chocolate-colored donkey named Gribouille. Merrifield, author of important biocritical studies of Henri Lefebvre and Guy Debord, as well as Metromarxism: A Marxist Tale of the City, tells the tale of his wander through the Haute-Avergne in southern France, learning the ways of his patient, strong, and stubborn donkey companion, who gradually shows him that 'real happiness comes in unforeseen places, through surprising twists and turns, through honesty.' Highly recommended.""-Library Journal"
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