Franz Brentano

Franz Brentano

“Those who knew Franz Brentano, even if only through his work, saw him as representing modern man, struggling with the riddle of the universe … he was first and foremost a thinker, one who did not allow his thinking to wander at random … Franz Brentano himself estimated that his work on psychology would fill five volumes, but only the first volume was published. It is fully understandable to someone who knew him well why no subsequent volumes appeared … In order to find answers to the questions facing him after the completion of the first volume of Psychology he needed spiritual knowledge. But spiritual science he could not accept and, as he was above all an honest man, he abandoned writing the subsequent volumes. The venture came to a full stop and thus remains a fragment.” — Rudolf Steiner, from Aspects of Human Evolution, Lecture Five, 1917.


Now I See … is a page and an opportunity for Anthroposophists to present reviews of non-anthroposophical books in such categories as non-fiction, scholastic or academic, history, science, biography, autobiography, and the paranormal.  The books do not need to be current or recently published, and most should raise the disturbing question as to why Rudolf Steiner’s name — or Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science — is not included in the index and in the contents, and when the absence of these resources or answers is felt to be something of an acute or tragic loss, or at the very least as a serious omission. Another kind of book appropriate for review will be of interest to Anthroposophists due to its timely and relevant subject (such as Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a WWII Fighter Pilot, by Bruce and Andrea Leininger, about their son, James Leininger).

The reviews submitted should not be critical, but should be written with a thoughtful, deeply questioning and sympathetic point of view, similar to Rudolf Steiner’s quotation about the work of Franz Brentano, above.

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Turing’s Vision, The Birth of Computer Science, by Chris Bernhardt, was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016, with the first MIT Press paperback edition published in 2017. Chris Bernhardt is a Professor of Mathematics at Fairfield University, a Catholic University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Alan Mathison Turing (1912-1954), was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. He emerged into public awareness largely as a result of the 2014 American film, The Imitation Game. The film is based on the biography by Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, although it is highly dramatized.

Chris Bernhardt’s book is about Turing’s great contribution to theoretical computer science in a paper that Turing wrote in 1936, when he was twenty-four years old. His talents had been recognized and he was then a Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge. The paper is titled On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem (decision problem). “But don’t be discouraged by the title,” writes Bernhardt, “because it contains a wealth of elegant and powerful results. It also contains some remarkably beautiful truths… This book is for the reader who wants to understand these ideas. We start from the beginning and build carefully. The reader doesn’t have to know much mathematics – high school provides enough – but it does require some mathematical aptitude and also a little work … Turing is not saying trivial things about computation, but saying deep and nonintuitive things. That said, many people find these ideas quite fascinating and the work rewarding.”

The book has a Contents section; a helpful Introduction including paragraphs of information about each of its nine Chapters; a section for Further Reading; Notes for each of the Chapters (e.g., how Boolean algebra works); a Bibliography, and an Index. The Contents section lists all of the topics in each chapter. For example, Chapter 1, Background, includes Mathematical Certainty, Boole’s Logic, Mathematical Logic, Securing the Foundations of Mathematics; Hilbert’s Approach (David Hilbert, German mathematician, 1862-1943); Gödel’s Results (Kurt Gödel, Austrian mathematician, 1906-1978); and Turing’s Results.

From Chapter 1: “Gödel had completely destroyed Hilbert’s program as it stood in 1920. Nevertheless, there was still the Entscheidungsproblem.” Read more…

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The Nazi, the Princess, and the Shoemaker

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The Nazi, the Princess, and the Shoemaker, My Father’s Holocaust Odyssey, by Scott M. Neuman, edited by Adi J. Neuman. An independent publication, 2019.

On the first page of this book there is a dedication: “This book is dedicated to my father, my family that lost their lives in the Holocaust, the Jews of Radziejów [Western Poland; German Rädichau], and all the Jews that were murdered by the Nazis.” The reader can only be grateful for the new methods of book publishing known as POD or print on demand, as otherwise invaluable books like Scott M. Neuman’s (and Child of the Forest) may not have come into publication and circulation for a very long time. The author was assisted in the process by his son, Adi Neuman.

The book came out of Scott Neuman’s interviews with his father, Binem Naiman, in the early 1980’s and these were produced on five 90-minute audio cassettes. Fortunately, notes the author, the old tape recorder worked flawlessly 30 years later, as did the tapes. In 1996, his father had also been interviewed by a member of the Shoah Foundation – founded by Steven Spielberg – Margaret Liftman, for Survivors of the Shoah, Visual History Foundation. Throughout the book, the author’s father (1919-2003) is referred to by his Polish name, Binem Naiman, although his Hebrew name was Simcha Bunim Najman. Binem’s mother was Hinda Najman (her family name was Poczciwy) and his father was Shimon Naiman, a Talmudic scholar who developed a lifelong devotion to daily studies of the Torah. As Chassidim to the region’s Rebbe or Rabbi, he also took on many community responsibilities. After marrying Hinda, Shimon Naiman set up shop in their town of Radziejów and this led to a successful shoe and leather business. The family grew to eleven children. Before the war, two of Binem’s older brothers immigrated to the United States (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Harry in 1921 and Max in 1924.     

At the conclusion of his final interview with his father, Scott Neuman was disappointed with himself for not realizing the magnitude of his father’s suffering as a result of the Holocaust. “I stared at my father, feeling proud that I was a son of such a man. As I had discovered, my father’s experience was unique and extraordinary, even among Holocaust survivors … I declared that it would be a tragedy if his account was lost … It felt as if I had been entrusted with a sacred treasure.” Scott Neuman brings the young Binem Naiman and his unique odyssey to life. So real does the young Binem become that the reader may be momentarily taken aback when the author suddenly quotes the older Binem responding to the interview questions.

The author devotes four full accounts to The Town of Radziejów, My Father and His Family, (Binem’s mother, Hinda, died when he was only a few years old; Shimon died peacefully at home before the worst events began), Jewish Life in Radziejów and Poles and Jews. The section on The Winds of War begins ominously. “In the early 1930’s, a clear change in the relationship between Jews and Poles could be observed … The anti-Semites in Radjiezów harassed Jews both physically and psychologically.”

World War II broke out on the day that Germany invaded Poland, on September 1, 1939, and Radziejów was a mere hour’s drive from the border with Germany. The systematic, step-by-step plan to eradicate the Jewish people was gradually put into effect in the small Polish town. The Jews had just completed building their new Beis Rochel Synagogue, their Shul, but it was soon destroyed. Read more…

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Child of the Forest

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Child of the Forest, Based on the Life Story of Charlene Perlmutter Schiff, by Jack L. Grossman and James Buchanan. The 255-page book was published in 2018 by SPARK Publications, Charlotte, NC. The author writes in the Bibliography that the book is “a work of creative nonfiction,” and the sources were used “to create an understanding of the place, time, history, and emotional and mental effects of the trauma Musia suffered.”  

Shulamit (Charlene) Perlmutter (1929-2013), was affectionately called Musia (Moosha). She was born in Horochów, Poland, which is now Ukraine. Her father, Simcha Perlmutter, was a Philosophy Professor at the University in Lwów. Charlene’s mother was Fruma Lieberman Perlmutter, and Charlene had an older sister named Tchiya. Conditions for the family in Horochów did not change significantly after the Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland in 1939, a result of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. However, Hitler’s betrayal of Stalin and the Soviets (Operation Barbarossa, June 1941) brought the family’s life under Germany’s control. When the Germans entered the Perlmutter home, their father (a Zionist) attempted to escape out the back door but was captured. It was later learned that he and other men were forced to dig pits and were then shot. Fruma Perlmutter and her two daughters had to leave their home and move into the ghetto. Here, they starved and struggled to survive until the Nazis ordered the liquidation of the ghetto. It was August 1942, and Charlene and her mother escaped and hid in the bulrushes at the edge of the river. Her sister Tchiya fled with friends but was later betrayed and did not survive. Charlene was twelve years old at the time. For hours, and then days, Charlene and her mother remained hidden, sitting in the water up to their necks, while “Flames in the ghetto lapped skyward, casting light over the riverbank tableau of bent bodies and youthful killers. Firelight reached into the bulrushes and river …”

In the water, Charlene falls asleep. When she awakens, she realizes that her mother is gone, and she then manages to escape into the forest, guided by her mother’s voice in her thoughts.

“There are no miracles here, neshomeleh, only love, and that is what we live for.”

“But Papa said God is abundant in compassion and God fills the world.”

“Yes, I know, but his compassion is our love, and that is what we live for.”

“Yes, Mama.”

Charlene was never able to learn what happened to her mother, but the soothing, motherly, warning voice remains with her the entire time she is hidden in the forest. Her mother’s urgent voice first leads her to the home of a couple who had been friends of the family, but they turn her away, the dangers of hiding a Jew too great, while the woman gives her some food to carry. She briefly joins a group hiding in the forest and manages to escape after they are attacked and killed. She is forced to scavenge for food, whatever will fill her stomach: mushrooms, berries, tree nuts, things crawling on the ground, and, eventually, rats that she kills with her small penknife. She breaks into cellars for potatoes, and into barns for sour milk and perhaps some deep sleep in the hay. She finds some warm clothing and shoes and socks in two wagons, and bathes in brooks. She digs “small graves” each night in which to sleep. Read more…

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Supreme Commander, The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The Supreme Commander, The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, by Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002), is a 2012 First Anchor Books Edition. Anchor Books is a division of Random House, Inc. The book, first published in 1969, is divided into two sections: Book One, The First Two Years, and Book Two, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. Four valuable maps from Eisenhower’s 1948 publication, Crusade in Europe, are included. The Supreme Commander has 732 pages that include a Glossary of military codes (e.g., TORCH), Chapter Notes and an Index.

The first book is a biographical and historical account of Eisenhower and his command during the North African and Southern European invasions of 1942-43. In the Epilogue of Book One, the author ponders the mystery of the effectiveness of this great leader:  “… he dominated any gathering of which he was a member. People naturally looked at him. His hands and facial muscles were always active. Through a gesture or a glance, as much as through the tone of his voice or what he was saying, he created a mood that imposed itself on others… Dwight Eisenhower was an intensely alive human being… He had a sharp, orderly mind. No one ever thought to describe him as an intellectual giant, and outside of his professional field he was not well read… When his superiors gave him a problem, they could count on his taking all relevant factors into consideration…” However, according to General Bernard Montgomery “… his real strength lies in his human qualities… He has the power of drawing the hearts of men toward him as a magnet attracts the bits of metal. He merely has to smile at you, and you trust him at once. He is the very incarnation of sincerity.” (From Widipedia: the name Eisenhower is German in origin and means iron hewer.) Read more…

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Travels with My Father: Life, Death, and a Psychic Detective, by Nancy Myer, was published in 2013 by GoodKnight Books, Imprint of Paladin Communications, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Life is full of wonderful mysteries that no one understands, one in particular being what happens after death,” writes Nancy Myer (formerly Nancy Czetli) in the Prologue of her book. “I help to locate missing wills – and missing people’s bodies. Sometimes, this incredible help from the other side of death reveals murderers to me. This is how life unfolds for me. Through my job, my experiences, and the many accounts I’ve heard from others of loved ones reaching back across the divide, I have become certain that love survives death.”

An earlier 1993 book by Nancy Myer-Czetli and Steve Czetli, Silent Witness, details her experiences working with law enforcement as a psychic detective. In addition, the program and internet site, Unsolved Mysteries, disclose the fact that she had consulted with the police on more than 300 criminal cases. These and numerous other sources, including YouTube videos, leave little doubt about her psychic abilities. Travels with My Father is a more personal account of her life and the extraordinary, ongoing communications and direct guidance she has received from her father after his death. In the Prologue she writes that this should not come as a surprise to anyone any longer. “If you have experienced incredible visits from the other side, you are not alone. You and I and many others can celebrate this part of life with the joyful awareness that death does not stop love.” 

Her father, Fredric Myer, died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 54. He had been with the U.S. Foreign Service (USAID, founded by John F. Kennedy), and Nancy and her mother and sister travelled extensively with him to Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Later, her father became head of vocational agriculture for the State of Delaware.

In Chapter Four, regarding her father’s “ghostly visits,” which she experiences initially as coldness, she explains that the visits begin with his voice, “strong and clear right beside me.” Then she sees him as he appeared in life.

“Over there, thoughts are things,” he explains. “Where I am, what you create in your imagination you can make real… I wanted to seem real to you so that you wouldn’t be afraid of me.”

“We’re all linked by our love and the Light of Life,” he later says. “I know it must sound strange to you, but it is very real. I feel different from when I was alive on your plane, because I no longer have a body to deal with. That part of it is freeing. As I explained to you before, thoughts are things, and that concept would not work if I were still in a body. In this form – as light – I can be anywhere that I am needed, sometimes in more than one place at a time, just by thinking about it.”

“So, for you, mind travel is a reality?” she asks.

“What’s hardest to understand – at least I think it is – is that time is not linear. Everything exists together, at once. That mystery will take me a while to fully understand. Being in this light doesn’t automatically mean I know everything. I’m still learning on this plane, too. Sorry, I can’t explain better …” He slowly vanished.

And through the years her father continues with his appearances, teaching, guiding, and warning of imminent dangers. Read more…

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