Category Archives: Articles and Reviews

Review by Udita Banerjee

This Mobius Strip of Ifs …a review



I usually read fiction. So when Mathias B. Freese wrote to me asking if I would like to review his book, I agreed because of two words that he used to describe his book, ‘memoir’ and ‘psychotherapist’. What’s not be intrigued about!? I wasn’t disappointed. This book is a collection of essays, a wide variety of topics, from relationships to blogging, from Holocaust to Freud… each essay was a bit of a jolt really…

It is a harsh read. There are works like those of Freud’s, scientific and calculating, cautious even. There are works like Paulo Coelho’s, which give you deep mantras in sugar coated easy to read stories. And then there is this man, who calls a spade a spade, and gives you facts and truth to your face. He is critical of people, of habits, of the system, of the world around him. Above all, he is critical of himself. He was a therapist; therapists have issues too!

A book that begins with a quote by Hemingway can hardly go wrong in my eyes! I once read Freud, a lot of him, I liked frequent references to his work. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy the references to other things as much, ones I did not know about… “How will I ever read so much!?” reads my note to self on the margin.

Reading a lot of the essays made me feel like I was encroaching into really personal territory. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read on. Did I really wish to know? I don’t know how much courage and general faith it takes to bare to the world… Also, the essay on bloggers made me ask questions as to my own purpose… Why do I blog? Why about books? Am I a true critic? Am I needy? If so, aren’t we all? A book  that makes you introspect is, in my opinion, a brilliant read, challenging and scary, but worthwhile.

It’s the kind of book one can come back to. It is not a cheery happy read, but I like them that way. It is like an old friend, who was a cynic a long time ago, but now is just an old friend…

Quotes: “Like the sad genius of the schizophrenic, allow me to find a nether place, to rest in sweet shadow, to come away from what I plainly see.”

“The task of each one of us is to be free of the other and ultimately free of one’s own inner constraints. All else follows.”

“I self-publish to announce I am here, for I will soon be gone.”


Review by Sophie Dusting for

Book Review: This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias B. Freese

Book: This Mobius Strip of Ifs
Author: Mathias B. Freese
Published by: Wheatmark
Date published: 2012
Format: Paperback
Length: 164 pages
ISBN: 9781604947236
Genres: Memoirs, Essays, Collection, American culture, Psychology

The Synopsis: In this impressive and varied collection of creative essays, Mathias B. Freese jousts with American culture. A mixture of the author’s reminiscences, insights, observations, and criticism, This Mobius Strip of Ifs examines the use and misuse of psychotherapy, childhood trauma, complicated family relationships, his frustration as a teacher, and the enduring value of tenaciously writing through it all.

Freese scathingly describes the conditioning society imposes upon artists and awakened souls. Whether writing about the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti, poet and novelist Nikos Kazantzakis, or film giants such as Orson Welles and Buster Keaton, the author skewers where he can and applauds those who refuse to compromise and conform.

The profound visceral truths in this book will speak to anyone who endeavors to be completely alive and aware.

The Review
I didn’t really know what to expect from This Mobius Strip of Ifs when I was first approached to review the collection of essays. Having read few non-fiction pieces and not having a keen interest in the genre, I was quite hesitant when turning the first few pages. What a relief then, that I was blown away by a simply stunning assortment of essay which were insightful, entertaining and quite moving in their content.
The forward is excellent; succinct and concise, it brings together all the works in a short summary which almost reads as a short biography to Mathius Freeses’ life. It was extremely useful to have, for if you wanted to dip in and out of the collection and read the essays in whatever order you fancied, you could go back and remind yourself how each fitted in to the ‘wider picture’.The collection is split into three groups. The first of the essays are under the collective banner “knowledge is death”. As described in the forward, “to know who we are required that we ‘die’ to many ideas we have of ourselves. Paradoxically, this ‘death’ quickens awareness, makes us more alive and sensitive.” The essays are short extracts of Freeses’ journey to decondition himself; they explore everything from the labels society places on people to how his own awareness grew and developed. This may sound heavy but it is told with wit and intelligence, making what could be quite a difficult subjects accessible and comparatively not too difficult to understand.When I review any piece of work I carry with me a pen and a load of post-it notes to jot the odd thought down, to act as a prompt for when I come to write my final review. I had hundreds of post-it notes scattered all over this first group of essays and you know what many of them said? “I loved that sentence” or “I loved that quote”. In the end there are just to many to list but here are some of my favourites:

“Answers are expired prescriptions.” (Pg. 6)

“…we own the slave mentality.” (Pg. 16)
“Why so you seek books, schools, teachers to inform you what is?” (Pg. 19)
“Organise your life financially and it becomes an attribute, and no more than that.” (Pg. 21)
“To not be asleep in life.” (Pg. 36)
“I self-publish to announce I am here, for I will soon be gone.” (Pg. 49)

Having gone through therapy myself and having come out the ‘other side’ unscathed, I really connected with the first group of essays, particularly one entitled Ten Canon. I feel the essay is almost a play on the ‘Ten Commandments’ but in this case, it is the ten principals for achieving healing awareness. I came to find that I myself had attained almost all of these through my own therapy. This is what this first group does best; it connects with the reader. It almost offers a free course of therapy right in your hands. There are many points for which to start a discussion (and hence this would make a great book club read) and offers much food for thought long after you’ve read them.

The second group were collectively entitled “Metaphorical Noodles”. I must admit I didn’t like the essays as much as the first selection. The essays discussed various actors, films, producers, directors and so forth and for some it read like a biography of their screen career. Ironically, these actually read like ‘essays’ where as the first group didn’t seem as formal. This may also be partly due to the fact I connected with the first group so strongly; to go from quite personal topics to those I knew little about or had a deep interest in, was probably the reason why I didn’t enjoy them as much.

“The Seawall” was the title for the final group of essays. For me these were the most moving set of essays as the author describes the relationships with his family. About Caryn describe Freeses’ love and changing relationship with his daughter, Caryn. This essay was poignant and so touching, it moved me to the point of tears.

“Our relationship was one of orbiting moons, still and silent as they did their turns, in a vacuum.” (Pg. 124)

This sentence is a perfect example of how articulate Freese is and how powerful his words can be. His writing throughout all of the essays is superb; it’s difficult to see how it could have been worded any differently.

Perhaps my only couple of criticisms would be that the tone of the essays can sometimes be depressing and if read in one sitting, I could imagine the essays would be quite over-whelming.

Out of all of the essays, if I could only recommend my top five, it would have to be:

  1. Ten Canon
  2. Introductory Remarks on Retirement from a Therapist
  3. About Caryn
  4. I Really Don’t Know Me and I Really Don’t Know You
  5. Reflections on Rummaging
…oh and A Spousal Interview…and – you see it’s really pointless me even trying to narrow it down!
The Verdict – A stunning assortment of essays and possibly the best work by an Indie author I have ever read. Freese is incredibly articulate and manages to turn difficult subjects into something accessible and attractive to readers. In the essay ‘At 67’ Freese writes, “long after I am gone they can point to a grandfather or great-grandfather and say that that at least one Freese got out of the rubble of that family and made something of his life, left something of value.”This is that something! 5 Stars.

The Paperback Pursuer, Allizabeth Collins, Reviewer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review Review # 274: The Möbius Strip of Ifs by Mathias B. Freese


Description: (from book-jacket)

In this impressive and varied collection of creative essays, Mathias B. Freese jousts with American culture. A mixture of the author’s reminiscences, insights, observations, and criticism, the book examines the use and misuse of psychotherapy, childhood trauma, complicated family relationships, his frustration as a teacher, and the enduring value of tenaciously writing through it all.

Freese scathingly describes the conditioning society imposes upon artists and awakened souls. Whether writing about the spiritual teacher, Krishnamurti, poet and novelist, Nikos Kazantzakis, or film giants such as Orson Welles and Buster Keaton, the author skewers where he can and applauds those who refuse to compromise and conform…

At the core of these essays is the author’s struggle to authentically express his unique perspective, to unflinchingly reveal a profound visceral truth, along with a passionate desire to be completely alive and aware.


First question: What is a Möbius Strip? I knew that the front cover had a picture of one, but I still wasn’t exactly sure, so I looked up the definition: “A one-sided surface that is constructed from a rectangle by holding one end fixed, rotating the opposite end through 180 degrees, and joining it to the first end…” (

Unfortunately, I still wasn’t sure why it was the tile of the book, until I found this definition: “a Möbius strip only has one side and one edge, so ants would be able to walk on the Möbius strip on a single surface indefinitely since there is no edge in the direction of their movement.” ( So I finally came to the conclusion that the Möbius strip, (in the book’s case), might represent the disorienting structure/cycle of life; things look one way, but end up another.

I was genuinely surprised when I started reading Mathias Freese’s essays, they were very rich and profound, his outlook on several topics showcasing a range of unyielding emotions – frustration, anger, discontent, depression, doubt, renewal, hope, etc… I was not ready for such a mind-altering read – one that left me in a state of contemplative hibernation. Each essay, especially “Untidy Lives, I Say to Myself”, “Personal Posturings: Yahoos as Bloggers”, “I Had A Daughter Once”, “On the Holocaust”, and “Babbling Books and Motion Pictures”, resonated with me, some for obvious reasons, others because they were so eerily personal. The author’s thoughts were well organized and brutally honest, his no-holds-barred writing style pushing me into debate with myself over my own preconceived ideas and beliefs on certain topics. Even the most simple essays conveyed unfathomable depth, there is no way a reader could put the book down and not linger on the wisdom the author had offered. After reading, I must admit that I feel like everyone has their own Möbius strip – a life full of actions, ideas, stories, regrets, loves, miscommunications, etc, and Mathias Freese has made that point very visual to me. I really enjoyed the book overall, the essay size and formatting were very accessible – I read the essays in order, but it is very easy to pick-and-choose which order a reader prefers. The Möbius Strip of Ifs is not a book to be read quickly or taken lightly – but it will stay with readers for a long time after it has been experienced. Highly recommended to adult readers looking for a refreshing, emotion/thought-fueled read; not for the faint of heart.

The Literary Aficionado Review

Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Möbius Strip of Ifs

`Life is best understood backwards.’ KierkegaardReview by Grady Harp

According to the dictionary definition, `The Möbius strip is a surface with only one side and only one boundary component. The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being non-orientable. It can be realized as a ruled surface. It has several curious properties. A line drawn starting from the seam down the middle will meet back at the seam but at the “other side”. If continued the line will meet the starting point and will be double the length of the original strip. This single continuous curve demonstrates that the Möbius strip has only one boundary.’

The concept has confounded many thinkers and writers but in the hands of Mathias B. Freese the essence of the meaning of the concept is defined in a series of essays that represent some of the most sensitive and profound thinking of the past few years. Freese writes about psychology, philosophy, thought, family, memories both good and sad, and ramblings about the lives and works of such disparate characters as Buster Keaton, Orson Welles, Nikos Kazantzakis, Peter Lorre to Federico Fellini’s `La Dolce Vita.’

In many ways Freese’s essays are feelings of discontent with the American way of life, his disappointments not only in his career as a teacher, but in many aspects of the way we perceive worth. He often bemoans the manner in which we trash art, spiritual concerns, and creativity in favor of crass commercialism. His previous, highly honored writings about the Holocaust surface here and there and are profoundly moving. In `A Spousal Interview: `After all my years of writing about the Holocaust, the one great learning for me is that it is repeatable; that we learn a little form it, but it will be massaged and kneaded into a sweetener as a historical lesson and not much metabolized by future generations …”Never Again” is an inept, inane and useless slogan, representing more of the ache and agony of the generations after the Holocaust. The Holocaust will be mostly forgotten centuries hence and will be so attenuated that in American textbooks it will take its place alongside the genocide of the American Indian, a paragraph or two or three. If you want a measure of life in this existence, find love, find meaningful work; the rest is illusion.’

These essays are so important for us all to read, so full of richness and quotations that deserve repeating, as the following form `Things Kazantzakis: ` We are spendthrifts with existence, we use it badly. I struggle with “reach what you cannot fine” all the time. No, I will not end up transfigured on a cross, but the struggle, dear reader, the struggle has made my life richer – and dearer.’

Another coupling of essays shares the profundity of his mind. In one titled “About Caryn’ he praises his daughter stricken with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) for the courage she demonstrates in coping with her station in life, and that essay is followed by `I had a daughter once’ in which he describes Caryn’s suicide (`she rotted for a week before someone inquired about her.’) and the grieving a father for a daughter has rarely reached such heights of profound tenderness.

This is one of those books that belongs in the library of every thinking and concerned human being. It is a treasure, at times exceedingly painful to read, at times exhilarating. Highly Recommended.

Grady Harp, December 2012

TITLE: This Möbius Strip of Ifs
ISBN: 9781604947236

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