Part sermon, part fable, part sci-fi fantasy, this dreamy philosophical mix argues—not for the first time in the history of ideas—that material and spiritual success can be achieved only through “self-realisation.” Essayist Pradeep Kanthan, who writes extensively about business ethics, also worries about the corruption of global finance, climate change and obesity, among other things, and his solutions invoke everyone from the Dalai Lama and the Existentialists to Ayn Rand and General Montgomery, the hero of El Alamein.
Kanthan’s own fictional hero and seeker-in-chief, a vaguely-credentialed ex-military officer called Captain Kapitan (the author must not be acquainted with Catch-22‘s absurd Major Major), consults assorted gurus and life coaches in his quest for knowledge and becomes a valued business leader and teacher himself. In the end, he transcends the limits of human perception via an “Android microchip” implanted in his head.
Kanthan, who lives in New South Wales, Australia, is full of passionate intensity for banishing violence and greed, and his vision of a new generation of clear-eyed leaders is admirable. But his writing is often vague psychobabble: “Virtues like compassion, developing our inner consciousness all help in developing our faculties to achieve our goals.” Some of his observations can be off-the-wall: “Perhaps, one of the best ways to remember your visit to any place is by not taking a camera . . . take a sketch pad and some pencils. Draw it and you are likely to observe more. The visual creative way of doing things is sure to produce results. The great chefs, golfers use this all the time.”
The Captain is confused and preachy, but its bright core of belief can be inspirational. Religion, Communism and Lehman Brothers have all failed us, Kanthan reports, so let’s go with karma, dharma and solid boardroom morality born of self-knowledge. It’s not the worst idea in the world, though readers will wade through much murky and extraneous material to find it.
Also available in hardcover.