875 Reviews for en.light.en.ment

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5 

(here's the full review on the Foreword website, I use about 98% of it - see my note below *)

en.light.en.ment affirms the good of humanity

even while challenging many elements of human thought and life


en.light.en.ment by Carsten Burmeister is a spiritual invitation to unconstrained free thinking.

This volume of 150 brief essays, many of which are only a few hundred words, presents Burmeister’s “liberal life-stance” on a variety of topics, from philosophical themes like pacifism, meditation, Zen, and yoga to deep-thinking approaches to broader topics like creativity, money, and terrorism. 

Each essay is a novel bite of an in-depth topic, favoring fresh thought over comprehensive deconstruction. Essays are cross-referenced, making it easy to wander through the book, following whatever train of thought feels compelling. 

Burmeister aptly describes his style as “flippant succinctness over learned elaboration.” Creative diction and varied syntax show that he relishes language, in itself and as a medium, and he brings humor and keen insight to the problems and solutions of the human condition. 

While there is certainly some brash irreverence here, essays are more often an earnest plea to rethink and break free from the traps that so many fall into. The goal of the book is to present a challenge and urge determined exploration, but the result is far from elitist, off-putting, or aggressive. 

A call to peace, mindfulness, and enlightenment is inviting, and Burmeister’s personal to-do list, presented at the end of the book, is a refreshing distillation of a way of life that is familiar yet decidedly new: it includes items like “learn to live with conflicts,” “love and be loved,” “think about death,” and “be attached to nothing.” 

The book is full of quotes from thinkers ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to the Buddha. Quotes are used with finesse and creativity. Many terms are defined in and alongside the essays; they serve to slow the pace and deepen absorption of the presented ideas, giving each statement room to make its full impact. 

While the book is inherently about Burmeister’s thoughts and beliefs, his aim is not to force agreement so much as to encourage responsive thought; he seems to be begging his audience to stop accepting ideas without consideration. 

Pages are stark, with a luscious amount of white space, and the creative use of typefaces and layout echo the “rethink everything” ethos of the essays. Once the pattern of the essay layout is established, it’s refreshing and easy to follow. 

Reviewed by Melissa Wuske

November 27, 2017 


*this is the bit I didn't use: 

"Nearly twenty pages of disjointed front matter make the book feel much less coherent and cohesive than it ends up being. Back matter, though much more concise, feels like a slow, unfocused end."


Melissa was right; I removed those 20 pages. Thanks Melissa, for good advice.


this is an excerpt (see the note below the review), view the full review here

Carsten Burmeister began to write while grappling with middle age. Now in his 70s, he’s interested in sharing his eclectic moral code that blends pacifism, science, the Golden Rule, Eastern spirituality, and the need for rational, intellectual debate. 

en.light.en.ment is a compilation of 150 short essays that reflect life as he sees it, covering big ideas – the meaning of life and whether it’s possible to fight for peace – as well as little things such as the proper way to dunk a tea biscuit. 

Burmeister’s essays are organized alphabetically, from “Acceptance” to “Zen,” and each is broken into easily digestible nuggets of narrative. Many also include famous people’s quotes, and dictionary-style definitions (when called for). 

Among the heavier commentaries about truth, justice and moral law are a few personally revealing essays about the author. 

Burmeister is a divorced father, a resident of Australia, a man who almost drowned and, on another day, learned first-hand what it’s like to go broke. He emerges as a seeker, an apt pupil of the world’s greatest prophets and philosophers, and a thinker who likes the process of rolling their ideas around until he can make sense of them. 

Readers find in him a writer who toggles between detached teacher, gentle spirit and argumentative mental gymnast. He’s at his best at the first two, synthesizing the values shared by all great religions, for example, and warmly inviting readers to consider the many forms God can be viewed in. 


Taken as a whole, en.light.en.ment provides a rollicking ride through the world of animated discourse. 


Unfortunately the blueink reviewer is anonymous. Anyway, I was initially quite happy with the review. But after a while I thought  ....  hang on a minute, and I sent this email to blue ink: 

Dear blueink,


I do have a problem with the review after all. The reviewer says:


"… For example, he calls the Bible “a book of lies, horrors and disastrous, destructive, unfathomably evil advice.”



I find it contentious that one line is taken out of context in a way that would alienate religious readers. Was there a mention of the context - maybe even a link to the essay  SCRIPTURE  - but at least the mention of the bible passages this comment is in reference to, inclusion of the quote would make sense. 

I can’t think of what the reviewer wished to relay with his/her use of the quote … am I dealing with a disgruntled fundamentalist Christian reviewer? 

(If that is the case I understand s/he finds parts of my book tiresome; and yes, one could probably say the inclusion of this quote in the review - in the way it was done - says more about the reviewer than about my book.)  



Anyway, if a single quote is used in a review of my book, I think it is tendentious to use this one, especially while taking it out of context. It puzzles me that my essay  SCRIPTURE  would be considered a "blind spot".

I think the reviewer is amiss here. 


Unless the reviewer is prepared to make an appropriate change, I’ll say please withhold the review from publication.


Thank you, C.





I'll keep you posted, dear readers, as to their response ...