Recap: In our younger years, we are lost, with the hope that as we grow older, we’ll better understand ourselves, others, and the world as a whole. That’s what Mathias B. Freese attempts to do in his collection of personal essays This Mobius Strip of Ifs. But over and over again, he explains that “knowledge is death” and the idea of full enlightenment or “de-conditioning” as he calls it is impossible to achieve.
Though it’s not one coherent tale, Mobius does share a story about its author and the difficult cards he’s been dealt in his life. The essays were written over decades, and share anecdotes about his family, childhood, years as a teacher, and his time spent working as a psychotherapist. The first section of the book is more philosophical, whereas the second section deals with specific people — famous people — and the things they have contributed to society, and the third section is far more personal.
Throughout this collection, Freese explains what his training, studies, upbringing, interests, and “random happenstances” have taught him. He preaches what he has learned in an upfront and often shocking way.
Analysis: Often times, Freese shares a negative or cynical point of view. One could argue this is just because of the terrible things he’s had to deal with — the loss of his mother at a young age, his daughter’s suicide, his wife’s sudden death. But I don’t believe that’s the case here. It becomes clear that his point of view has been molded not only by what’s happened to him but also by what he’s studied and read over the years.
Freese is blunt and fiercely logical about the world and the way it works, often distressingly so. As an eternal optimist who believes in things like “everything happens for a reason” and “God only gives you that which you can handle,” I often found myself disagreeing with the points made in Freese’s essays. That being said, his points were almost always made with the utmost logic and realism. Whether I agree or not, I could not ignore his valid, well-explained thoughts.
This book is not a memoir. Or rather, I don’t think it’s meant to be one. After all, this is a book full of essays about what his life has taught him about life in general. But ultimately, it feels like a memoir. Upon finishing the book, I felt like I got to know Mathias B. Freese. I understand his world, his inner thoughts, and his life. I may not agree with many of his beliefs, but I’d sure love to grab a coffee with him.