Bach, Richard: One: A Novel
(researched by Lisa Hantjis)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Richard Bach. One: A Novel. New York, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1988. Copyright 1988 Alternate Futures Corporation. Book Design Copyright 1988 Joan Stoilar.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition is published in blue cloth with dust jacket.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
144 leaves, pp. [10]11-15[16]17-284[4]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The first edition is not edited, however, it includes a brief introduction by the author, though it is not labeled as such, from pages 11-15.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations, however, the lettering of the title and author throughout the book and the first letter of each chapter and introduction begins with hand lettering by Steffie Kaplan printed in gray.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
24 cm X 15 cm The print is large, and the pages are not cluttered: text begins 3 cm from top of page, 2.5 cm from left of page, 4 cm from bottom of page; chapters begin 12 cm from top ; 92R. There is .5 cm spacing between dialogue and paragraphs, though paragraphs are not indented. The dust jacket is blued with a golden infinity symbol floating in an image of space. The white stars on the dust jacket are used on pages [3,7,9] with the infinity symbol included on pg [3]. Above the symbol are the authors name, "Richard Bach" in white, and and the title, "One" underneath in white and "a novel" in pale blue. Along the bottom of the dust jacket on the front cover, it reads, "Author of BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER, ILLUSIONS, and JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL" in pale blue. The lettering of the author's name and title of the book are in the hand letting of Steffie Kaplan. On the dust jacket binding: RICHARD BACH (white), ONE (white), SILVER ARROW BOOKS/ MORROW (white). Lettering here is also the hand scripted type. The front of the blue cloth cover has no coloring or lettering on it, but there is an indention in the form of the infinity symbol.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Paper used for first edition is very thick, white, woven paper. It is the same paper stock throughout and there is no yellowing and no tears.
11 Description of binding(s)
Paper is stitched together in 12 separate sections which are then stitched together. Outermost sheets (blue) glued to cardboard cover. Very neatly bound. Binding is approximately one inch wide. End paper is blue on either side. Lettering on the cloth binding is the same, but impressed in silver. The binding of the cloth cover is a darker shade of blue and extends 3 cm onto the front and back.
12 Transcription of title page
Richard Bach/ one/ A novel/ Silver Arrow Books/ WILLIAM MORROW/ NEW YORK
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Information on holding not available at this time.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Dust jacket: Inside front flap: "What if space shifted and time bent and we could meet ourselves as we'll be twenty years from now? What if the people we could talk face-to-face with the people we were in the past, with the people we are in parallel lifetimes, in alternate worlds? What would we tell them, and what would we ask? How would we change if we knew what waits beyond space and time?" Dedication on unnumbered page 9: "with Leslie" Back Cover: "I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?"
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
One: a Novel. W. Morrow, Silver Arrow Books: Book Club Edition. 1988. 284 p.; 22 cm. One: a Novel. W. Morrow, Silver Arrow Books: Large Print Book Club Edition. 1988. 440 p.; 22 cm. One: a Novel. W. Morrow, Silver Arrow Books: 1st ed. Braille, Bower Hill Braillists Foundation. 1988. 284 p.; 24 cm
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
200,000 copies of the first edition were printed in the first printing; other impressions or printings are unknown at this time
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1st ed. New York: Dell Publishing 1988, 1989; "Reprinted by arrangement with William Morrow and Company, Inc." Paperback Reissue edition. New York: Dell Publishing Company, November 1989. 378 p.; 18 cm. London edition. London: Pan Books, 1989. 284 p.; 18 cm
6 Last date in print?
According to InfoTrac's "Books in Print" section, the 1989 mass market paperback edition of One: a Novel published by Dell Publishing is still in print
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
The number of hardcover, first edition copies in the first printing was 200,000 in October 1988
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
unknown at this time
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
After extensive searching in Publishers' Weekly, Harpers, The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review, I could not find any evidence of an ad specifically designed for One: a Novel. I did, however, find an ad for other books by Richard Bach. The ad clebrates the success of both Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
n/a
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Only sound recordings were made of this novel: Bach, Richard. TITLE: One: a Novel PLACE: Los Angeles, CA PUBLISHER: Audio Renaissance YEAR: 1994 PUB TYPE: Recording FORMAT: 5 sound cassettes (6 1/2 hr.): analog, Dolby processed. NOTES: Read by Richard Bach and Leslie Parrish-Bach. Also available on 4 sound cassettes (6 hr.)
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Translations into Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean as follows: Uno. 1a ed. Rizzoli Publishing: Milano. 1988. 317 p.; 18 cm. Un. ?ditions Un Monde diffÈrent: Saint-Hubert, QuÈbec. 1993. 317 p.; 23 cm. Um. 1a ed. Editora Record: Rio de Janeiro. 1988. 255 p.; 21 cm. 3a ed. PublicaÁıes Europa- AmÈrica: Mem Martins, Portugal. 1989. 238 p.; 22 cm. Uno. Urano: Barcelona, EspaÒa. 1988. 254 p.; 22 cm. Uno. J. Vergara Editor: Buenos Aires. 1988. 268 p.; 22 cm. Hana. Chiphyonjon: Soul T'ukpyolsi. 1988. 256 p.; 23 cm.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
No record of serialization was found.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Bach's novels are books written in the first person, supposedly from his life. They are metaphysical exercises and all follow as a sort of sequel of ideas. A Bridge Across Forever, in which Bach falls in love with Leslie Parrish, may be thought of as a prequel to One, which is written with her help. The book, with the bending of time and space, is about their relationship before AND after they met eachother.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
In 1972 Richard Bach, while attempting a film version of his 1970 bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, met Leslie Parrish. Both were interested in making a movie version of Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Bach's bestseller of 1977. Though the film was never produced, a romance between Bach and Parrish was. Together, Bach and Parrish "took off in a 45-foot trailer along the back-roads of Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon." In 1981, Bach both declared bankruptcy and married Parrish. After a few years however, Parrish helped her husband escape from debt. The former actress gathered "every penny she had" and Bach's copyrights were retrieved. After the financial matters were under control, Bach and Parrish begun to write together, accounting their experiences over the past several years in Bridge Across Forever (1984). Introduced was the concept of the "soul mate," a term Bach and Parrish expounded upon in their second novel One (1988). An entire set of ideas was built around Bach and Parrish's real life romance. Although he had already been divorced once, Bach had been sure he had found his "soul mate" in Parrish. One explores the possibility of Bach's life without Parrish-the lives portrayed are dire. In 1991, after almost 10 years of living on the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, Parrish and Bach moved into a large home north of Seattle. Within a couple years of the success of One however, Richard Bach and Leslie Parrish were divorced. Bach explains that "the last years were a lesson about the perils of assuming a relationship can withstand being put aside in favor of business and other projects considered more important. It can't." Bach claims that there are certain scenes in Bridge and One that a careful reader can may see as "warnings that point to the end of that relationship." Richard Bach's recently created web-page is full of messages asking about Parrish, some readers unable to believe in Bach's novels after the idea of the soul mate was seemingly destroyed. Bach answers this by claiming that "we bring into our lives, soul mates and instructors carefully chosen to hand us the lessons we need? no matter our gratitude to the person who taught us, it is the lesson and not the teacher we bring to our next class." During this period in his life, Bach also became reacquainted with five of his six children from his first marriage, with whom he was estranged. His daughter Bethany was killed in an accident at the age of fifteen in 1985. His youngest son Jonathan's book Above the Clouds was published in 1991, just three years after One's success. Bach was married to his third wife, Sabryna Nelson-Alexopoulos in April of 1999. Bach explains, "She prefers to stay out of spotlights, so that particular book may never be written." When Bach is asked what he is working on now, he simply answers, "Nothing-and I hope never to write another book so long as I might live." Sources: http://www.richardbach.com; Podolsky, J.D. "From fame to financial fiasco-and back." People Weekly. 27 April. 1992: 87.; "Richard (David) Bach." Contemporary Authors. Online at Gale Literary Databases.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Many of Richard Bach's best-selling novels did not meet with popular critical review upon their publishing. In the world of the literary critic, Bach had a reputation of being a man of too many sappy words about far-fetched and implausible ideas. Of ONE, Joyce Cohen writes, "We know we're in deep trouble as early as page 12, where the Bach's (Richard and his wife, Leslie) announce, 'We've become RiLeschardlie, no longer knowing where one of us ends and the other begins.' Uh oh. Assume the brace position for a freaky adventure in their seaplane, which gets lost in space-time somewhere off the coast of California (New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1988, p. 22). Bach is often condemned for his writing style. "The prose gets a mite too icky poo for comfort" (Publishers Weekly; Aug. 3, 1970, 60). His sentences are ones, according to Richard Lingeman, that somebody might want to "embroider on a sampler-or bake into a fortune cookie" (New York Times, April 1, 1977). It should be remembered however, that above all, Bach is a pilot and not an author. Some critics believe the best of his books, including ONE, are the flying sequences. "I am not a big fan of Richard Bach's new age writing, but his older books like NOTHING TO CHANCE and A GIFT OF WINGS are pure flying fun. I long for a new book by Bach that doesn't spend more time talking about our mystic souls, than planes and flying" (Aviation book reviews). Bach's best-selling novel of 1988, ONE, is a novel about the "mystic soul" however, and was received with much of the same criticism by literary reviews. Very few reviews of ONE were actually written however. It may be possible that because Bach's writing style does not change and because his books are all a continuation of the same ideas, new reviews did not have to be written after the best-selling books, JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL and ILLUSION: ADVENTURES OF A RELUCTANT MESSIAH and A BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER had been reviewed by the press. Critical reviewers of ONE agree that there must be a suspension of belief if anyone is to get through the book. "Instead of soaring and diving though space, passengers on this flight must be prepared to cruise slowly, making several stops to look at their motivation and lifestyles as the Bach's look at their own" (Detroit Free Press). However, if the reader is willing to defer rational thought processes, the book may be enjoyable. "Readers will need a willing suspension of disbelief to enjoy this earnest pastiche of inspirational memoir/romantic, adventure/science fiction, but then again Bach's fans have swallowed everything from JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL to BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER (Publishers Weekly, August 12, 1988). Although critics believe Bach displays an "inventive imagination" and "inspirational zeal," the homilies might end up being rather boring. Cohen tells the reader to "give yourself a gold star for patience if you actually make it through to the final pages." It is simply dependent upon the readers' point of view. The successes of all of Bach's books have been reliant upon the reader's reception rather than the critics. Some critics believe that success however, has all been based on the success of his first book. "Even those interested in the paranormal are likely to wince at Bach's disclosures; still, the seagull succes fou may make this book popular too" (Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1984). Whatever the reason, Bach's success rests on readers "willing to take a chance," which, as Katherine Green of the Detroit Free Press said, "could be worthwhile." Not all criticism of ONE is negative. Some reviewers find Bach's concepts startling and appealing for its originality. "This is a strange and thought-provoking fantasy from the man who gave us Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions, one that is imaginative, playful" (The Anniston Star). Bach is praised for being easy to read and very inspirational. Much of his popularity seems to rest on his direct and personal writing, illustrated very well in ONE. Andrew Lutts writes that ONE may appeal to readers for its "timeless spiritual themes and effortless writing," (Salem New Age Center Newsletter). However, to appreciate the spirit of the book, a reader must think metaphorically. In ONE, Bach tries to explain that just as a television has many channels, everyone has many lifetimes that are going on simultaneously-its just that you're tuned into only one at a time. Oleh Kovalchuke of Colorado University said that reading Bach's novels is something you "owe to your life." Sources: The Anniston Star Aviation Book Reviews Colorado University home page attn: Oleh Kovalchuke Contemporary Literary Criticism vol. 14, p. 35-36 Detroit Free Press Gale Literary DataBase New York Times Book Review, April 1, 1977 New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1988 Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1984 Publishers Weekly, August 12, 1988 Salem New Age Center Newsletter
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Many of Richard Bach's best-selling novels did not meet with popular critical review upon their publishing. In the world of the literary critic, Bach had a reputation of being a man of too many sappy words about far-fetched and implausible ideas. Of ONE, Joyce Cohen writes, "We know we're in deep trouble as early as page 12, where the Bach's (Richard and his wife, Leslie) announce, 'We've become RiLeschardlie, no longer knowing where one of us ends and the other begins.' Uh oh. Assume the brace position for a freaky adventure in their seaplane, which gets lost in space-time somewhere off the coast of California (New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1988, p. 22). Bach is often condemned for his writing style. "The prose gets a mite too icky poo for comfort" (Publishers Weekly; Aug. 3, 1970, 60). His sentences are ones, according to Richard Lingeman, that somebody might want to "embroider on a sampler-or bake into a fortune cookie" (New York Times, April 1, 1977). It should be remembered however, that above all, Bach is a pilot and not an author. Some critics believe the best of his books, including ONE, are the flying sequences. "I am not a big fan of Richard Bach's new age writing, but his older books like NOTHING TO CHANCE and A GIFT OF WINGS are pure flying fun. I long for a new book by Bach that doesn't spend more time talking about our mystic souls, than planes and flying" (Aviation book reviews). Bach's best-selling novel of 1988, ONE, is a novel about the "mystic soul" however, and was received with much of the same criticism by literary reviews. Very few reviews of ONE were actually written however. It may be possible that because Bach's writing style does not change and because his books are all a continuation of the same ideas, new reviews did not have to be written after the best-selling books, JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL and ILLUSION: ADVENTURES OF A RELUCTANT MESSIAH and A BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER had been reviewed by the press. Critical reviewers of ONE agree that there must be a suspension of belief if anyone is to get through the book. "Instead of soaring and diving though space, passengers on this flight must be prepared to cruise slowly, making several stops to look at their motivation and lifestyles as the Bach's look at their own" (Detroit Free Press). However, if the reader is willing to defer rational thought processes, the book may be enjoyable. "Readers will need a willing suspension of disbelief to enjoy this earnest pastiche of inspirational memoir/romantic, adventure/science fiction, but then again Bach's fans have swallowed everything from JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL to BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER (Publishers Weekly, August 12, 1988). Although critics believe Bach displays an "inventive imagination" and "inspirational zeal," the homilies might end up being rather boring. Cohen tells the reader to "give yourself a gold star for patience if you actually make it through to the final pages." It is simply dependent upon the readers' point of view. The successes of all of Bach's books have been reliant upon the reader's reception rather than the critics. Some critics believe that success however, has all been based on the success of his first book. "Even those interested in the paranormal are likely to wince at Bach's disclosures; still, the seagull succes fou may make this book popular too" (Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1984). Whatever the reason, Bach's success rests on readers "willing to take a chance," which, as Katherine Green of the Detroit Free Press said, "could be worthwhile." Not all criticism of ONE is negative. Some reviewers find Bach's concepts startling and appealing for its originality. "This is a strange and thought-provoking fantasy from the man who gave us Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions, one that is imaginative, playful" (The Anniston Star). Bach is praised for being easy to read and very inspirational. Much of his popularity seems to rest on his direct and personal writing, illustrated very well in ONE. Andrew Lutts writes that ONE may appeal to readers for its "timeless spiritual themes and effortless writing," (Salem New Age Center Newsletter). However, to appreciate the spirit of the book, a reader must think metaphorically. In ONE, Bach tries to explain that just as a television has many channels, everyone has many lifetimes that are going on simultaneously-its just that you're tuned into only one at a time. Oleh Kovalchuke of Colorado University said that reading Bach's novels is something you "owe to your life." Sources: The Anniston Star Aviation Book Reviews Colorado University home page attn: Oleh Kovalchuke Contemporary Literary Criticism vol. 14, p. 35-36 Detroit Free Press Gale Literary DataBase New York Times Book Review, April 1, 1977 New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1988 Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1984 Publishers Weekly, August 12, 1988 Salem New Age Center Newsletter
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
It is not often that one finds a best seller under the category of metaphysics or fantasy. It seems even less often that these books are also categorized as spiritual and non-fiction books by the same people. Richard Bach however, has developed a style over the course of his best-selling career, which leaves critics, booksellers, and readers alike simply wondering exactly what kind of book it is. Publishers Weekly reviews preview Bach's books as non-fiction. One: A Novel can be bought from amazon.com under the metaphysics category. Readers of the novel say it is a spiritual and inspirational story that every reader "owe[s] to [his] life." Bach's books are an exception to the best-seller formulas, which often rely on recipe story lines and stock-characters. One is littered with scientific and aviation vocabulary the average reader would find overwhelming. But then, Bach fuses with it a language that seems to be reserved for high school inspirational speakers or even ministers. It is this ordered confusion of the scientific and the spiritual world that seems to draw readers to Bach's quasi-religious character. It is the persona that Bach presents in his novels that seem to capture the attention of fans. Bach outlines a philosophy of living in his first book Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1972) that continues to his last book Out of My Mind (1999). His success with that first novel about a seagull's self-discovery came at a time in the United States history wherein everything was defined by change. The 70s were a time of free love and war. Bach taught individualism and valued spiritual connections. Bach's novels are about escapism. If they teach us anything about bestseller, it is that Americans want to escape. Whether it be the gruesome images of the Vietnam War in the 70's or the white collar corporate crimes of the 80s, readers of Bach's novels must be people who do not want to dwell on the outside world. The American readers continued to hold on to these fantastical ideals even up to 1988, when One was published and reached best-seller status. There are many reasons for One's success. Primarily it is the author's following that launched the book to best-seller status. But another reason for One's success may be its implied religion, which leaves no one out. Accused by Christian group as embodying an anti-Christian ideals such as reincarnation and the like, Bach's books actually include all Christian ideals, and every other major religion for that matter. Bach manages to reach everyone with an undefined religious tone. His books are religious books for those with no religion. Cults were big in the 70s. After the strict bible mentality of the 50s and 60s, the "hippie" generation there were many people looking for guidance and direction in such a troubled time that it was surrounding the Vietnam War. When Bach gained faithful followers with Jonathan Livingston Seagull, he seemingly gained followers for life. Bach presented a persona that stood out. Physically, Bach was a memorable fellow. A tall man with scruffy blond hair and beard clothed in aviator's apparel, who flew all across the country in small two-seater planes, Bach commanded the attention of those around him. His book tours where completed by plane, he gave airplane rides to readers. His books are personal experiences or ideals Bach holds. His life is his plot, and surprisingly, it made for popular reading. This unusual marketing strategy has attracted many kinds of fans. A large-scale Time cover story was important in the success of all of Bach's future books because it outlined Bach's life, philosophies, hardships, poverty, and divorce, creating a persona for Americans to cling to. He is a fascinating character indeed. The author loves airplanes so much that at one time he allowed his family's only automobile to be repossessed while he still owned an airplane. Bach personally delivered his wife's baby in their own house. He once lost a job because he refused to "compromise his individuality" by getting rid of his mustache. In an even more bizarre twist of his personality, Bach claimed that he did not even write his first best selling novel, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Instead he claimed, he had visions that he simply copied down on paper. "I don't write like that," he told Time, speaking of the way the book was actually constructed and what it was constructed about. He claims he actually he disagrees entirely with Jonathan's decision to abandon the pursuit of private perfection in favor of returning to the flock and encouraging its members to higher wisdom. Bach said that Self-sacrifice is a word he cannot stand. In a time when younger generations embraced rebellion of all sorts, Bach's unique lifestyle must have fascinated the first readers of Jonathan. His public persona must have appealed to many readers and that is what in fact may have sold many of his books. Bach's unique personality did not go unpublicized. Bach has made many appearances on numerous talk shows over his life. More and more media appearances ensued the more was known about the author, the more he was realized to be such a curious man. Publisher's Weekly mentioned one instance where a Pittsburgh book store "sold 1000 copies in the first 24 hours after the author's appearance on the 'Contact' show". The public was intrigued by his renegade persona, thus his book sales soared following public appearances. Bach's refusal to conform to the usual roles of best selling author and popular media figure made him a fashionable personage for the rebellious youth of 1972 to admire. Once a fan base began as a result of the man's persona, his cult like following began. As mentioned above, Bach's novels are escapist literature. Whether they are labeled as metaphysical, fantasy, or spiritual, Bach's novels take its readers out of the material world and bring them into a world of reincarnation, time and space travel, and high ideals of soul mates. In the early 70's the media's exploitation of its ability to bring the news of Vietnam home to the American people was inescapable. Jonathan Livingston Seagull was the perfect piece of escapist literature for the ghastly surroundings of the time. It is a book in which the hero teaches others how to break the natural boundaries of time and place to find a better world in which to live. That optimism seemed to help many Americans escape the war. In Bach they found a messiah, and fans have been following his teachings ever since. Many readers recognize Bach's moral undercurrent in all of his novels as well, which contain strains of a number of religious philosophies, but doesn't seem to encompass one in particular. It is a religious book for those without religion. Traditional American middle class religions like Christianity and Judaism have been seen as tenets of the older parent generation and religious exploration was yet another type of rebellion. This rebellion occurs by every single generation against the older one every decade. Just as many hippies of the 70s followed the new religious path of Hinduism and the members of black empowerment group began to follow the ways of the Nation of Islam, society in the 80s found a new term to follow: New Age. With emphasis on Buddhist practices of yoga and meditation, the idea that Bach presents in many of his novels wherein one may leave their body and the time in which they are stuck by mere thought alone, New Age ideals became popular for again for the young yuppies of America. America is a country founded on religion, yet some may question its religious ideals with all the violence and greed that can be found. People begun substituting the word religious for spiritual and again, Bach found a niche. Bach's philosophy of his body being nothing but thought is congruent with the Hindu belief of the body as simply a carrier of the soul. The goal of Hindu followers is to be enlightened, much like Bach's real life efforts to expose his readers to what he believes is the truth. He gave lectures across the country for years so that he may enlighten people as to what he has discovered through his own experiences through flying and writing. To reach the point of perfection where they no longer have to rely on their Earthly carriers anymore is what reaching Nirvana is. In his book One, Bach seems to suggest that the earthly body can be left behind at any point. As he and Leslie begin to travel through time, meeting other versions of themselves, they are simply flying through space in their minds. As soon as they want to "land" somewhere, it only has to be thought about, then it happens. Furthermore, Hindu religions believed in reincarnation as a means to continue to climb toward perfection even after death. In One and it's prequel, A Bridge Across Forever, Bach and his wife actually practice leaving their bodies so that when one of them dies as a result of bodily failure, the other may follow right behind. A part of Bach's persona actually is his religion. A big proponent of the Church of Christ, Scientists, Bach extends some of the philosophy this religion in his novels. The Scientists believe that "Heaven and hell are not regarded as specific destinations one reaches after death, but as states of thought, experienced in varying degrees here and now, as well as after death." These are not the only religions represented in Bach's novels. However, since the books do not focus on one religion exclusively, its readers are able to interpret it however they want. The importance of Bach's spiritual message is that it allows the reader to decide what is important. It may be coming to the truth yourself or helping others to find it, the way Bach seemingly does with his life through his writing and lectures. By keeping his religious message open to interpretation, Bach was popular among people of many different persuasions. Perhaps the most important element of the book that helped it rise to stardom is this ability to appeal to all types of people. Its symbolism is so rich that every reader can project his or her own beliefs onto it. In One, Bach writes about "the place where ideas come from." Tink is the manager of the Idea Foundry. In writing that plot, Bach says it actually startled him "to meet her in person as he wrote about her, there in the altered state that is our mind when we write." He had the idea that the Idea Fairy was a quick caption, "a smile at the way we discover our unknowns." Instead in the novel she appears in a hard-hat and safety-goggles showing how ideas are poured and cooled, how they are designed and machined and embedded with laser-light on their way to cross our paths. Is Tink a God-like figure? It does seem to suggest that there is something out side of our selves that controls things such as our ideas. How it is interpreted though is left, in classic Bach style, up to the reader. A writer for the New York Times suggests that the reason Bach's books appeal to non-religious people as a religious novel is because his books do not account for sin. "The twin problems of purpose and evil with which religion has traditionally wrestled are not even addressed, but dismissed as illusory" (New York Times: April 10, 1977). Therefore, readers are not riddled with guilt as many religions may cause in people. Bach has actually said that if he thought someone was creating an organized religion out of his books, that is "locking their ideas in a vault and inventing rituals to strangle individual understanding," he'd have to "go underground like Rambo, paint [him]self in camouflage and try to blow it up. Instead, he claims that he attempts to "re-define a person's religion as their way of finding what is true." In that sense, science and religion are the same, and sure enough, the most advanced scientists speak much the same language as the most advanced seekers of spirit. The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra and The Dancing Wu-Li Masters, by Gary Zukav are good instruction on this. Just as I have argued, Joseph McLellan of the Washington Post acknowledged the popularity of Bach's writing for its "common currency" of ideas?"enlightenment, miracles, reincarnation, out-of-body-experiences" even as he felt unfulfilled by the depth and content of the book (The Washington Post, April 24, 1997). After Bach gained followers in the 70s for Jonathan Livingston Seagull with the help of his persona, he had followers who continued to help his books reach bestseller status.
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