Idea/Concept: Stoller's Becoming Lucid is an attempt not just at another guidebook for achieving "lucidity" in dreams or in finding divining meaning from them; instead, its author is applying hypnotic practice and lucid dreaming techniques to waking life as well. Stoller also distinguishes Becoming Lucid by including transcripts of detailed "hypnotic sessions" as well as a link to a Dropbox account that includes recordings of them. These work better in mp3 form than on the page, of course, but their inclusion is welcome. It might not be clear to readers, however, that this book's ideal audience is people already somewhat versed in the literature of lucid dreaming.
Prose: Stoller demonstrates deep, authoritative knowledge over his material, and he writes in the elevated, searching, often rigorous style of a theorist rather than a mass-market self-help author. His metaphors are often striking in their illustrative clarity, and his instructions for readers and dreamers in the book's many exercises are precise and unambiguous. Less clear, though, are Stoller's explanations of his key concepts, which is due both to those ideas' slipperiness -- he acknowledges in the first chapter that there's no one clear definition of lucidity with regard to consciousness -- but also from his tendency to get caught up considering philosophical and scientific puzzles. When the author is offering instructions or recounting a narrative, the prose is clear; when he's contemplating how or why our minds and dreams work as they do, the prose becomes more tangled, and Stoller offers readers fewer guideposts than might be ideal.
Originality: Stoller relies on no received wisdom and freshly thinks through even the book's most familiar ideas. His exercises, examples, and insights are unique and helpful.
Execution: For all its originality, Becoming Lucid demands some familiarity with the existing literature and techniques of lucid dreaming to be best appreciated. In chapters that appear in outline to lay out the basics, Stoller often riffs about, muses upon, or contests prevailing beliefs -- and he doesn't always invite readers not steeped in the material along for the ride. The book's energy often goes into disabusing readers of ideas they might not actually have rather than walking them persuasively through Stoller's own opinions. This creates an occasionally argumentative tone.
Date Submitted: October 25, 2019