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Well, as they say on the internet: RTFM. But that is usually applied to more prosaic pursuits. Can there be a manual to teach the unteachable? Apparently there can be, and the RZA has put together a book that covers all of his obsessions. Of course, the RZA is not the whole of the Wu-Tang Clan, but it certainly covers much of the ground that we have learned to know (or at least guess at) and love (or at least be amused by) when it comes to Shaolin's Finest.

The RZA has many different interests, and many different media for expressing them. It was inevitable that he would write a book, and what a book it is! Although there are other books that cover its subject, it is probably the only book ever to put together chess, martial arts, cinema, numerology and sundry other subjects together in a little manual for life. A book where a chapter can be headed by Dick Cheney praising the virtues of Wal-Mart, and you have no idea of what spirit it was meant in.

The work does not actually cover much of hip-hop history, and if the RZA had decided to leave the hip-hop out to include another ten pages on the Qaballistic meaning of chess of the area of the Indian Ocean, it might not be that different of a book. Because this is not a book about any one thing: this is a book about viewing the world through as many lenses as possible, and eventually bringing it into some type of focus. And, as soon as that focus is achieved, cutting to a sample of a movie you watched when you were 12.

Is this book a vanity project, so the RZA can talk about his latest obsessions? Or is it a way to see how many different cultures and viewpoints can melt together to produce the pastiche that the Wu-Tang embodied? I dunno. If you have the ability, read it and tell me.

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