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Book Discussion Questions Regarding the Number of Pages in Books

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Taudefindi

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I honestly don't know which prefix is best for this subject, but I think "Book Discussion" is the closest one.

These days after falling into some rabbit holes and going around reading books with many pages made me think something, or better yet, it made me question some stuff.
For example:

  • Why most occult/magic books have hundreds of pages, while very few are at the two digits at most?
  • Does size matters for a book's content to be considered legit?
  • What do you prefer?A book with a lot to read(usually those that speak a lot of the theory) or one that is sparse in content and goes straight into the "nitty gritty" of it?
  • If you could write a book, would you want to write a big one(100 and +pages) or a small one(less than 100 pages)?
 

Xenophon

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Me, I like short works. At an impressionable age, I stumbled on Wittgenstein's "Tractatus" and it left its minimalist stamp on me.
More to the point, if one is grounded in theory, then a short tome is all he needs. I mean look at a lot of "dissertations" in mathematics: a good many are only a page. A page incomprehensible unless the reader has tomes and tomes of theory stashed in his mental files.

Yeah: how to get that grounding? There you do need the thick books or lots of cheek by jowl instruction. After that, though, I tend to think less is more. My go-to book these days is only about 120pp. (Title is not important here.)
 

Vandheer

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Does size matters for a book's content to be considered legit?
No sir. Only way to confirm is to practice whatever is in it. Well at least for me.


What do you prefer?A book with a lot to read(usually those that speak a lot of the theory) or one that is sparse in content and goes straight into the "nitty gritty" of it?
Nitty gritty, sooner the better. Are we here to be scholars or magicians? My grades are very bad, so go figure which one I will pick.
 

Taudefindi

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More to the point, if one is grounded in theory, then a short tome is all he needs.
Sometimes it feels like authors are either unable(or unwilling) to say more with less.

I like when the reason a book is filled of pages is because the author has a lot of knowledge over the subject and they want to pour it all out, or the subjects in itself is highly theoretical.

But with practical subjects it doesn't feel like it's a good idea.


Are we here to be scholars or magicians?
Funny enough, magicians in the past were mostly priests and/or scholars(of course, with the exceptions).
People with the means and education to acquire materials and knowledge to study magic(specially ceremonial magic if my history knowledge is up to date).
 

HoldAll

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I'm currently reading "Claiming Knowledge. Claiming Knowledge. Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age" by Olav Hammer which comes in at a whopping 569 pages. It's a scholarly work spanning multiple schools of esoteric thinking, so it's understandable that so many pages are needed in the interest of comprehensiveness. What's more, it's extremely scholarly so a lot of space is needed for footnotes and quotes, also to thoroughly underpin the author's claims and theories that would go unsubstantiated in 'technical' occult books. Bearing in mind that Blavatsky's and also Steiner's tomes are full of the wildest assertions and that the author not only tries to trace them back to genuine Indian, Egyptian, etc. sources but also analyses how they have influenced contemporary New Age thinking, it's small wonder why that book is so voluminous. I love how the author is neither hostile towards occultism nor attempts to actively debunk theosophical or anthrosophical doctrines, he simply demonstrates the mechanisms by which those esoteric teachings were generated, and of course you need a lot of material as a base of such scholarly analyses. It's eye-opening, to say the least.

Now and again I would return to Lars Helvete's "Belief Magic - Belief as a Means of Magical Power" with its 18 pages, more a treatise than a book, and try to wrap my head around his thinking. It's a much more mature and philosophically sophisticated version of Peter J. Carroll's theories about the chaos magic, random belief and paradigm shifting, not dense at all and even couched in simple language; I nevertheless find it hard to get to grips with it. I am sure its implications are profound but I have yet to find out how they are important specifically for me.

What I hate is when a book contains nothing but fluff in the beginning, for example a lot spurious invented tradition and a highly selective reading of history to justify the author's ideas, rituals, etc. that he or she describes only much later his or her book. Sometimes all that fluff is crucial, for example in the GoM books where the soothing writing style of the opening chapters prepares the reader's mind for the practical instructions that come later in the book, but having read all those scholarly books about magic and its history, the term 'ancient wisdom' is forever ruined for me, and that's a good thing. When I read now, for example, "Already the Gnostics knew…", I can't help but thinking that the word 'Gnostics' is now mostly used in quotation marks by scholars because it's such an imprecise umbrella term for extremely disparate philosophical currents that it's as good as useless for the study of a history of religions and also for practical magic.

In short, I think it's about the subject of the book in question, whether it covers a wide range of topics or a single highly specific one. Ideally, the former type is expansive and the latter short and concise, but in recent years a lot of badly written 80-or-so page potboilers have been published by occult authors desparately striving to quit their day jobs, and I'd really hate to be tricked into paying good money for them.
 

Taudefindi

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which comes in at a whopping 569 pages
Anything bigger than 300 pages is already a work in dedication(to read) and attention.


it's extremely scholarly so a lot of space is needed for footnotes and quotes
Honestly, I actually like a lot when authors put "extra kniwledge" on the footnotes.Footnotes are one of the few reasons why I like big works.


not dense at all and even couched in simple language; I nevertheless find it hard to get to grips with it
Sometimes what seems simple isn't as simple as we think.

What I hate is when a book contains nothing but fluff in the beginning
I don't know what is worse, the fluff or the author's biography(filled with anecdotes, curiosities and etc.), when the book itself isn't a biography nor about the author.


In short, I think it's about the subject of the book in question, whether it covers a wide range of topics or a single highly specific one.
In my view, if a work is said to be practical then it should be short to get right into it.Only actually scholarly/theoretical works should have the freedom of hundreds of pages, because they demand this.
 

Crows&Ravens

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Why most occult/magic books have hundreds of pages, while very few are at the two digits at most?
Some like to go into depth, while others would prefer to get straight to the point. I do like reading books that have hundreds of pages as sometimes they do offer tips and how to improvise a ritual, what not to do's and do's which I find helpful.
Does size matters for a book's content to be considered legit?
No.
What do you prefer?A book with a lot to read(usually those that speak a lot of the theory) or one that is sparse in content and goes straight into the "nitty gritty" of it?
Both.
If you could write a book, would you want to write a big one(100 and +pages) or a small one(less than 100 pages)?
If a book requires more information for the practitioner to be successful, then it will be a long read. I would even go into how I was unsuccessful and how I was in the end, perhaps my failures would help more than showing what did.
 
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