Who has a soul and who does not? is the central question in Tobias Wene’s Interpretation of Soul. This preposterous query sets the foundations for an even more preposterous book. Weighing in at a whopping and unnecessary 782 pages, Tobias Wene’s Interpretation of Soul never gets around to answering its central question, what Tobias sees as an existential question on par with Camus’ introductory sentences to The Myth of Sisyphus: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”
The book is sectioned off into three of what Tobias refers to as “movements,” because he likens his prose to symphonic music. I think of them more as bowel movements. The first introduces the soul in a historical context. The second looks at the modern perception of the soul, the implication of immortality, and
Although I hope it is unnecessary, there is a short disclaimer I feel compelled to write: I am not Tobias Wene. I have never met Tobias Wene. My name is Toby Wene. Toby is not short for Tobias. It is short for Tobey. It is no secret Tobias Wene and I do not get along. In print, we are vitriolic rivals. I feel no shame in saying this. Well,I feel a bit of shame for almost everything I say. I was raised Catholic, after all. God forgive me for what I am about to say. God forgive Tobias Wene for his Interpretation of Soul. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.)
I do not oppose this book for any Catholic reasons. After my recent illness, I can no longer see the world through a Catholic lens. Has anything so crazy happened to you…have you ever seen a ghost or angels or UFOs? Have you ever lost your mind but seen the truth on the other end? What is the craziest thing you have ever seen, because I promise you this: the stories I could tell you would damn me with the label “madman.” I would be marked by the scarlet letters M and M. When people saw me, they would be reminded both of my madness, and a delicious candy-coated chocolate treat–M&Ms. Mmmmm.
I apologize for that digression. Returning to the subject of madness, I am preparing to open up about a subject…something that happened to me, that will illustrate the real reasons behind my personal distaste for this heaped conglomeration of trivial musings.
Until then, allow me to close up this book review with a quick summation:
Tobias Wene’s Interpretation of Soul never answers its central question, the answer to which it promises to reveal, remains ultimately unanswered. The book, it seems, lacks soul.