Apparently someof us have a misconcepotion of the prupsioe of the Big Book. It isnt casual reading material. It has specific prupose:
“To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED is the main purpose of this book. ”
It’s main purpose is not to entertain, educate or inspire anyone. Although there are some partrs that can do a littl eof any of thoese – perosnally not eneogh to hol dmy interest. My use of the Book is as a tool for showing others how to recover. I dont read it anymore. unless I am reading it to someone either doing a Step Workshop, a Study or a Twelve Step event. I just use it as a device when I”carry the message” out in the threnches. I already GOT my spirirutal awakening and subsequent freedom from alcoholism – among a few other freedoms.
Anyone looking for anything other than for what the Book is intended always ends up terribly disspaointed. They go away saying stuff like, “Man that book is poorly written” or “Its too anitiquated” or some other invention to degrade their expenditure of time. It like trying to read and then later putting down an instruction booklet that came with a new computer confident that NOW you know why you never saw the booklet on the New York Times best sellers list.
It is a textbook of directions to follow that will result in a spiritual awakening. It is “marketed” toward people fitting a very narrow description – although people of MANY descriptions have tried it after hearing or seeing how well it works for the former. But they weren’t desperate enough to do the drastic and extremely difficult tasks that book suggest they do for the desired outcome. The mettle just isn’t there.
Yes Danny, the big book is indeed poorly written, and this has to be an important issue for those of us who are only impressed by books that are well-written (and for heaven’s sake, why on earth should anyone be impressed or persuaded by a book that is badly written? But more to the point, the book just doesn’t make sense in its own terms. It is internally logically inconsistent. It begins by claiming that alcoholism is an illness with a physiological basis, and argues that because of this it is not a cause for shame, but it then veers straight into a discussion of moral shortcomings as being central to the condition, and goes on to insist that a supernatural agency is essential to recovery. I think it is pretty obvious that this is inconsistent, and in fact self-contradictory. My problem with aa largely consisted of an inability to “square the circle” by making sense of inherent inconsistencies in aa dogma. It’s really a simple logic problem. I came to the conclusion that aa could only make sense to people who abandon reason. The abandonment of reason can be attractive to desperate people, and this is the central explanation of the power of cults. Life is so much simpler once you stop thinking. But is it worth living on those terms?
I think that all of us — every single human being on this planet — falls somewhere on the spectrum of sense and nonsense. Actually, I’m not sure I even want to call it a spectrum, because there’s something circular about it. I am definitely not against nonsense by any means. I also think that our own belief systems are the ground under our feet (how’s that for inconsistent, already?), and we take what we really believe as a given. In other words, our belief systems are so fundamental that you can’t talk someone out of theirs any more than you can talk them out of breathing– no matter how logically you present your position.
That’s why we’d never engage anyone here about their beliefs, and AA is definitely a belief system. I mean, if the most persuasive, logical argument against AA will elicit a “Whatever. I know what I know. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes.” response, then there’s no point. It’s not up for debate.
But definitely, the fact that The Big Book is poorly written is an important point. If you know what you think, and you have a basic understanding of your native language and how “A” leads to “B,” you will be able to express what you think very clearly — whatever your level of education. There is no reason for the Big Book to be poorly written — illogical and inconsistent — if the very important ideas within were clearly thought out. A poorly written manual is the same as a poorly written piece of music. Imagine trying to play Chopin on the piano, and reaching a phrase that breaks with a note in the empty bars that reads, “something something something,” and then picks up in the middle of a glissando.
Not all instruction manuals are boring. Many of them do exactly what they’re supposed to do: clearly show you how to put something together. That’s not boring by any stretch — as long as you are engaged and doing the things you’re supposed to do. Of course, instruction manuals are boring if you’re not using them for what they’re intended. But if the manual is poorly written and doesn’t make any sense (which happens more often than not), then not only is it boring, but you end up frustrated with a mess in your livingroom. This is what happens with the Big Book, for precisely the reasons andymar points out — you can’t get from “A” (psychological illness) to “B” (moral failings) to “C” (supernatural cure) without having to make shit up in order to make it logical.