Author: Joss Sheldon


ISBN-10: 1539908550

This “rebel with a cause” and “one in a generation writer” has the gall to pitch his latest book to a little old lady with the dedication “FOR YOU.” Pour moi? I understand the playful reference to the 1955 Hollywood film, Rebel Without A Cause,” but Joss Sheldon and I are not the same generation. He was born in 1982, two decades after my children. Still, I thank him profusely for introducing me to the “Get Educated” lyrics from Akala’s 2012 hip hop album, “Knowledge is Power.”

The point of that quote is that education does not come from school (“Forget what they told you in school, get educated/ I ain’t saying play by the rules”). Joss Sheldon did play by the rules until he realized that there was a better way to live – by Enlightenment. He traveled to India and other exotic places before beginning to write outrageously about what’s wrong with the received means of making one’s way in the world.

He began his journey when The Little Voice (in his head) first piped up when he was seven. It came from a creature he calls The Egot. It got him into a lot of trouble as he began to act up in school. He managed to subdue The Egot as he grew into manhood. And then it reappeared and Joss began to act out at work. He threw down the gauntlet. And that was pretty much it. Now he describes himself as “a scruffy nomad, unchained free-thinker,” who escaped.

He says that his character was shaped by the opposing forces of wanting to fit in and wanting to be true to himself. Many will agree that finding purpose in society (fitting in) is sometimes at odds with longing to be individual. It is everyone’s struggle, according to Adlerian Psychology. Sheldon reminds us that, “Subservience to authority is the norm in our society,” and of the deluded seriousness with which we have accepted psychologists’ cures, such as Skinner’s “operant conditioning” and “positive reinforcement.” Enlightened, he advises globally and timelessly from such sources as Krishnamurti (who brought meditation to California) and Lao Tzu (Taoism, humility in leadership).

I agree with everything this author says – which makes me a kind of rebel, I suppose. I certainly felt so at about age 19 when I first read The Catcher in the Rye as a college sophomore. Certainly there are others my age who stood on the outside of the golden circle looking away from it. That’s the sense of get of this 35-year-old Englishman, graduate of the London School of Economics, whose bonds I am guessing were harder to break in the 1990s than a Midwestern American’s were in the 1950s. I credit him with the guts to make sacrifices to find Enlightenment, and then act upon it. First he wrote Involution & Evolution, an anti-war epic poem, and then Occupied, which condemns the labeling of culturally differentiated segments of humanity (“divide and rule.) Sheldon says The little Voice is the story of his life. His life so far, I would remind him, as there’s more to come to worry about in our leaders’ attitudes to war, cultural divisiveness, and education.

Steve Topple’s review of The Little Voice on the left-wing blog The Canary calls the book “radical to say the least” but also “whimsical at times,” and suggests that will help the “uninitiated reader” understand the argument. It is this whimsy that I don’t understand. Otherwise: You go, boy!