One (a Richard Bach novel)

gold mobius strip against blue sky is background art for “One”
The mobius strip is symbolic

One is a novel by Richard Bach, best known for his fable for adults, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, in which the author proved to the gullible that, with determination and practice, anyone could be anything.

In One, adroitly subtitled “a novel” to keep people from thinking it is nonfiction, Bach fictionalizes his philosophical position that everything is an illusion.

One opens with the real Bach and his real wife, Leslie, flying to the real city of Los Angeles.

On the way to LA, the landscape below disappears. The couple drop into another dimension in which time is timeless and choices are limitless.

The couple take off and land to meet the selves they would be if they had lived in other times and other places and made other choices: They might never have met!

Bach and his wife come across as having the personalities of Popsicle sticks.

Bach’s philosophical discussion is on a par with his characterization skills. It doesn’t take an Einstein to know that living in a different century in a different place you’d have different choices, or that making different decisions results in different outcomes.

The Bachs divorced in 1997, which just goes to show the value of having alternative realities.

One: a novel by Richard Bach
Silver arrow books series
W. Morrow. ©1988. 1st.ed. 284 p.
1988 bestseller #9; my grade: C-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Illusions, like Richard Bach’s earlier bestseller, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, is a ’60s-ish, love beads, and tie-dyed little novel, but without bird photos.

Cover gives illusion of looking into the depths of the universe.
Illusions is not as dark as the jacket suggests.

Illusions opens with 14 pages that look like hand lettered text on ruled paper covered with greasy fingerprints. Those pages tell what happened to Donald Shimoda before Illusions‘ narrator, Richard , met him.

Richard is a pilot who flies an over American’s heartland, landing to pick up locals willing to part with $3 for a 10-minute ride in his old Fleet biplane.

One day in Illinois, he sees a plane on the ground below and, feeling lonely, he lands beside it.

Before nightfall, Richard and Donald, the Messiah Mechanic, are friends. Richard picks up Donald’s “Messiah Handbook” and without realizing it, he becomes a messiah-in-training.

In a few weeks, he’ll be a full-fledged messiah.

Illusions is a “spiritual” novel whose theology posits that all things are possible if you have as much as a mustard seed’s worth of imagination.

It’s not much of a theology, but it’s better than Jonathan Livingston Seagull could come up with.

The best part of Bach’s novel is the quote featured on the dust jacket:

Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, feathered allegory

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an Allegory.  Just so you don’t miss the point, author Richard Bach thoughtfully capitalizes Important Words.

A grainy photograph of a seagull is on the dust jacket cover of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Russell Munson’s photos accompany Bach’s narrative.

Jonathan is No Ordinary Bird. Although no gulls are killed when he dives at 214 miles an hour into the breakfasting flock, Jonathan is expelled from the flock for for “reckless irresponsibility.”

In exile, he practices flying, neglecting to eat, until he is called to a better place where he meets other gulls who also live to fly.

After spending some time in the better place in the sky, Jonathan returns to earth and gathers disciples whom he teaches to consider themselves “special and gifted and divine.”

Some of Jonathan’s disciples consider him the Son of the Great Gull but he’s not. He merely wants his followers to “reach out and touch perfection” in the thing they most love to do.

Jonathan leaves them after instructing them to Go Make Disciples who will devote their lives to doing whatever they want to do.

Fortunately, this paean to the totally self-centered life is short.

Its 93 pages are already as nauseating as a gull’s breakfast.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Photographs by Russell Munson
Macmillan, © 1970. 93 p.
Bestseller #1 in 1972 and 1973. My grade: C-

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni