“Hoodwinked” is a nonfiction book by Carbondale resident Larry Gottlieb. The title is derived from a word that means “to deceive or trick; to blindfold.” The work of this part-memoir, part-thesis is to remove that blindfold and welcome the reader into the myriad of possibilities existing just beyond their self-fulfilling beliefs.
“Is it just a happy accident, a product of a particularly fortunate assembling of the elements of our physical world, that physics and chemistry should give rise to biology and consciousness?” Gottlieb asks readers. “Can molecular biology possibly explain the richness of human experience, the depth of feelings, or the pull of abstract ideas? Can it possibly explain love?”
Gottlieb is perhaps best known locally for his musical prowess. Born into a family of professional musicians, he “heard music every day from the womb” and arrived in Aspen playing rock ‘n’ roll in 1970. He continues passionately to perform, now playing steel guitar with the country dance group Citizen Twang.
Prior to making music his focus, Gottlieb studied graduate physics at MIT in California. His interest in physics never faded and he continues to think in terms of fields that affect reality.
The physics topic that most interests him is cosmology, the science of the origin and development of the physical universe.
“In the old cosmology, the world is real, we have no choice but to deal with it as it is, and our beliefs simply represent our best efforts at classifying and organizing whatever we recognize to be true,” writes Gottlieb.
Thoughtfully-composed, this book challenges that cosmology. It tackles the same themes as Gottlieb’s previous publication, “The Seer’s Explanation,” and differs in that Kay Knickerbocker, Larry’s wife, partner and best friend, helped to anchor the concepts in a more accessible fashion.
Knickerbocker, who describes herself as having “a layman’s brain,” patiently worked with Gottlieb to refine the book’s approach at explaining things that exist beyond common language.
“It’s better for her participation,” Gottlieb affirms. Together, making focused use of their pandemic-imposed isolation, they crafted a book that skillfully employs metaphor to guide the reader into Gottlieb’s premise, that “what we think of as the real world, the physical world, is instead an interpretation of sensory input, a description which is conditioned by our past experience and our belief system.”
According to this view, the essence of the world transcends our five senses, and our interpretations matter (make real). Therefore, a person’s experience is subject to the stories that describe it, the “filter” through which they interact.
Gottlieb works masterfully with metaphor to make these abstract ideas comprehensible. For example, the book opens with a story about fish in the sea. A mother fish may teach her offspring all about the colors, flavors and dangers of the ocean, but not the water itself. Something as all-encompassing and constant as water is to fish, Gottlieb suggests, is similar to the creative nature of reality that envelops people. We learn to interpret the limitlessly complex possibilities that surround us with stories which in turn define what we see and experience. Through that process, certain possibilities are inevitably filtered out. By realizing this, we may try on different —perhaps more expansive — stories, and new possibilities emerge.
Gottlieb draws from five influences listed in the book: meditation teacher Prem Rawat; writer Carlos Castaneda’s descriptions of the Yaqui sorcerer Juan Matus; Werner Erhard’s “human potential” teachings; Esther Hicks’ channelings; and physics, both classical and quantum theory.
“[New] possibilities must first be imagined and then declared by individual human beings,” Gottlieb paraphrases Matus, “so as to be available to themselves and perhaps to others.” Gottlieb compares the process to changing the channel on a television set, tuning our perception to a slightly different frequency.
Admittedly, it’s no small task to change our core beliefs. Thankfully, “Hoodwinked” offers practical steps, along with personal life examples. “You are an extension of pure creative energy,” Gottlieb insists. “We’re here to learn to be creators.” By honing the ability to use language deliberately, a person makes beneficial use of their creative potential, rather than reinforcing limitations.
The book will also be available at an upcoming event hosted by The Center for Human Flourishing at the Third Street Center on Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. To RSVP, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Hoodwinked” is available for purchase at Susan’s Flowers in Carbondale and online at https://www.larrygottlieb.com/hoodwinked