Review: Does Santa Exist

I picked this up based on a review of a writer I like, and I got something I wasn’t expecting.  The blurb and the review both gave me the idea that Eric Kaplan was going to use the abstract question of how we relate to imaginary characters as a stepping stone into a general philosophical discussion. Does Santa Exist is more about how Kaplan has made peace with the questions than how society has.  The result is a philosophical memoir.  I admire the audacity but don’t share his positions.

He begins with a tour of the philosophy of logic and quickly zeros in on logic’s limitations in dealing with self-reference and contradictions.  Valid concerns, of course, and well expressed.  He moves on to other belief systems: Buddhism and other mystic systems.  It’s sort of an odd juxtaposition in terms of the overall shape of philosophy, but seems to trace his own metaphysical journey.  He alludes to formal Buddhist and Zen training a few times.  He clearly does not find what he calls the mystic approach compelling, either. From there he wends his way to Kabbalah.

I’ve encountered the Kabbalah system before, and I don’t find it an intuitive way to organize my thoughts on reality. If Alan Moore (and J. H. Williams III!) can’t sell me on a system of magical thinking, well, anyone else will have an uphill battle.

So, I’m happy Kaplan’s found a belief system that works for him, but if the point of Santa was recruiting others – and I think it is – he didn’t manage to get me.


Comments are closed.