West of Jesus Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief


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Bloomsbury USA


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1596913444

9781596913448

272 Pages

$16.00

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Steven Kotler almost drowned when he got caught on the wrong side of a wave in Mexico. As he emerged from the water, battered and torn, a fellow surfer told him, "It looks like the Conductor had his way with you." This was the second time Kotler had heard of this "Conductor"—the mythical surfer who controls the weather and the waves. Strangely, it was nearly a decade earlier in Indonesia that he was introduced to this mysterious troublemaker for the first time. He almost drowned that time, too. After suffering from Lyme disease for two years, Kotler loses the perfect job, the perfect girl and much of what had been the perfect life. With nothing of any meaning left to him, Kotler sets out to surf around the world in search of the Conductor. As he regains his strength, he begins to have mystical experiences, not unlike those hinted at in the Conductor's myth. In spite of being a committed skeptic, Kotler had out-of-body experiences, felt time stoppages, had moments of ecstasy. Could this be standard neurochemistry triggered by flashes of adrenaline and other brain chemicals? Was he achieving some kind of transcendence? Or was he just losing his mind? In West of Jesus, Steven Kotler starts out on an admittedly mad quest and ends up at the peculiar intersection of neuroscience, spirituality and sport. The results are a startling mix of big waves and bigger ideas: a surfer's journey into the biology of belief.

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Steven Kotler's novel The Angle Quickest for Flight was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, National Geographic, Details, Wired, Men's Journal, Maxim, Salon, and elsewhere. He has surfed all over the world and lives in Los Angeles, California.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Steven Kotler's novel The Angle Quickest for Flight was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Discover, OutsideDetails, Wired, Men's Journal and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
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