The original idea for naming this Alter Ego Jonathan Flow was inspired by two ideas: Jonathan Livingston Seagull (a book by Richard Bach)
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by American author Richard Bach and illustrated with black-and-white photographs shot by Russell Munson, is a fable in novella form about a seagull who is trying to learn about life and flight, and a homily
about self-perfection. It was first published in book form in 1970 with
little advertising or expectations; by the end of 1972, over a million
copies were in print, the book having reached the number one spot on
bestseller lists mostly through word of mouth recommendations.
In 2014 the book was reissued as Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition, which added a 17-page fourth part to the story.
book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is
bored with daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight, he
pushes himself and learns everything he can about flying. His
increasing unwillingness to conform finally results in his expulsion
from the flock. Now an outcast, he continues to learn, becoming
increasingly pleased with his abilities while leading a peaceful and
One day Jonathan meets two gulls who take him to a "higher plane
of existence" in which there is no heaven, but a better world found
through perfection of knowledge. There he meets another seagull who
loves to fly. He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn
have made him "pretty well a one-in-a-million bird." In this new place,
Jonathan befriends the wisest gull, Chiang, who takes him beyond his
previous self-education, and teaches him how to move instantaneously to
anywhere else in the Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to "begin by
knowing that you have already arrived."
But unsatisfied with his new life, Jonathan returns to Earth to
find others like himself to teach them what he has learned and to spread
his love for flight. His mission is successful, and Jonathan gathers
around himself a flock of other gulls who have been declared outcasts
themselves for not conforming. The first of his students, Fletcher Lynd
Seagull, ultimately becomes a teacher in his own right, and Jonathan
leaves to teach other flocks.
Part One of the book finds young Jonathan Livingston frustrated with the meaningless materialism,
conformity, and limitations of the seagull life. He is seized with a
passion for flight of all kinds, and his soul soars as he experiments
with exhilarating challenges of daring aerial feats. Eventually, his
lack of conformity to the limited seagull life leads him into conflict
with his flock, and they turn their backs on him, casting him out of
their society and exiling him. Not deterred by this, Jonathan continues
his efforts to reach higher and higher flight goals, finding he is often
successful. But eventually, he can fly no higher. He is then met by two
radiant, loving seagulls who explain to him that he has learned much,
and that they are there now to teach him more.
transcends into a society where all the gulls enjoy flying. He is only
capable of this after practicing hard alone for a long time and the
first learning process of linking the highly experienced teacher and the
diligent student is raised to almost sacred levels. They, regardless of
all their immense differences, are sharing something of great
importance that can bind them together: "You've got to understand that a
seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull."
He realizes that you have to be true to yourself: "You have the freedom
to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in
last words of Chiang, Jonathan's teacher, are, "Keep working on love."
Through his teachings, Jonathan understands that the spirit cannot be
really free without the ability to forgive, and that the way to progress
leads—for him, at least—through becoming a teacher, not just through
working hard as a student. Jonathan returns to the Breakfast Flock to
share his newly discovered ideals and the recent tremendous experience,
ready for the difficult fight against the current rules of that society.
The ability to forgive seems to be a mandatory "passing condition."
2013 Richard Bach took up a non-published fourth part of the book which
he had written contemporaneously with the original. He edited and
polished it, and then sent the result to a publisher. Bach reported that
he was inspired to finish the fourth part of the novella by a near-death experience which had occurred in relation to a nearly fatal plane crash in August 2012. In February 2014, the 138-page Bach work Illusions II: The Adventures of a Reluctant Student was published as a booklet by Kindle Direct Publishing. Illusions II also contains allusions to and insights regarding the same near-death experience. In October 2014, Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition, was published, and this edition includes Part Four of the story.
Part Four focuses on the period several hundred years after
Jonathan and his students have left the Flock and their teachings become
venerated rather than practiced. The birds spend all their time
extolling the virtues of Jonathan and his students and spend no time
flying for flying's sake. The seagulls practice strange rituals and use
demonstrations of their respect for Jonathan and his students as status
symbols. Eventually some birds reject the ceremony and rituals and just
start flying. Eventually one bird named Anthony Gull questions the value
of living since "...life is pointless and since pointless is by
definition meaningless then the only proper act is to dive into the
ocean and drown. Better not to exist at all than to exist like a
seaweed, without meaning or joy [...] He had to die sooner or later
anyway, and he saw no reason to prolong the painful boredom of living."
As Anthony makes a dive-bomb to the sea, at a speed and from an altitude
which would kill him, a white blur flashes alongside him. Anthony
catches up to the blur, which turns out to be a seagull, and asks what
the bird was doing:
"I'm sorry if I startled you," the stranger said in a voice as
clear and friendly as the wind. "I had you in sight all the time. Just
playing...I wouldn't have hit you."
"No! No, that's not it." Anthony was awake and alive for the first time in his life, inspired. "What was that?"
"Oh, some fun-flying, I guess. A dive and pullup to a slow roll
with a rolling loop off the top. Just messing around. If you really want
to do it well it takes a bit of practice, but it's a nice-looking
thing, don't you think?"
"It's, it's...beautiful, is what it is! But you haven't been around the Flock at all. Who are you, anyway?"
"You can call me Jon."
Bach initially wrote it as a series of short stories that were published in Flying magazine in the late 1960s.
Bach, who said the book came to him as "a visionesque spooky
thing," stopped after he wrote 10 pages and didn't pick it up again for a
The book was rejected by several publishers before coming to the attention of Eleanor Friede at Macmillan
in 1969. "I think it has a chance of growing into a long-lasting
standard book for readers of all ages," she wrote presciently in her
acquisition memo. She convinced Macmillan to buy it and Bach received a
$2,000 advance ($15,000 in 2022 dollars).
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is named after John H. Livingston,
a Waco Aircraft Company test pilot who died of a heart attack in 1974,
at the age of 76, just after he had test-flown an acrobatic home-built Pitts Special.
book was a sleeper hit; the first edition in 1970 was only 3,000 copies
and it would take two years before reaching number one on the New York Times Bestseller List. "Not a single magazine or newspaper — including The New York Times Book Review — so much as mentioned" the book when it first came out, The Times reported in 1972. Macmillan failed to secure any advance publicity for Bach, but he personally took out two very small ads in The New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly.
The first printing sold out by the end of 1970, and in 1971 an
additional 140,000 copies were printed. Mostly a word of mouth
phenomenon, it entered the NYT Bestseller List on April 20, 1972, where
it remained for 37 weeks, and by July 1972 it had 440,000 copies in
print. Reader's Digest published a condensed version. In 1972 and 1973, the book topped the Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States.
Book sellers didn't know how to classify it. "Some put it under
nature, some under religion, some under photography, some under
children’s books." Friede's advice was "Put it next to the cash
Several early commentators, emphasizing the first part of the book, see it as part of the US self-help and positive thinking culture, epitomised by Norman Vincent Peale and by the New Thought movement. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that the book was "so banal that it had to be sold to adults; kids would have seen through it."
The book is listed as one of fifty "timeless spiritual classics" in a book by Tom Butler-Bowdon,
who noted that "it is easy now, thirty-five years on, to overlook the
originality of the book's concept, and though some find it rather naïve,
in fact it expresses timeless ideas about human potential."
John Clute, for The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
(1997), wrote: "an animal fantasy about a philosophical gull who is
profoundly affected by flying, but who demands too much of his community
and is cast out by it. He becomes an extremely well-behaved accursed
wanderer, then dies, and in posthumous fantasy sequences--though
he is too wise really to question the fact of death, and too calmly
confident to have doubts about his continuing upward mobility--he learns
greater wisdom. Back on Earth, he continues to preach and heal and
finally returns to heaven, where he belongs."
Bibliography, editions and translations
Jonathan Livingston Seagull has been translated into over thirty languages. Here is a partial list of editions and translations:
|Ջոնաթան Լիվինգսթոն ճայը
|Xuan Salvador Gaviota
||Uviéu : Conseyería d’Educación
||Bernese German (Bärndütsch)
|Джонатан Ливингстън Чайката (Dzhonatan Livingstyn Chaikata)
|Joan Salvador Gavina
||Biblioteca de Bolsil
|Galeb Jonathan Livingston
|Jonathan Livingston Racek
|Jonathan Livingston Havmåge
||Lindhardt og Ringhof
|Jonathan Livingston Zeemeeuw
|Jonathan Livingston Seagull
|Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition
|Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story
|Jonathan Livingston Merikajakas
|جوناتان، مرغ دريايي (Jonatan, Morghe Daryayee)
|Jonathan Livingston, Le Goéland
|Jonathan Livingston, Le Goéland
|თოლია ჯონათან ლივინგსტონ (Tolia Jonatan Livingston)
|Die Möwe Jonathan
|Ο γλάρος Ιωνάθαν Λίβινγκστον
|ג’ונתן ליווינגסטון השחף
||Édesvíz Kft. Nagykereskedés
|Jónatan Livingston Mávur
||Örn og Örlygur
|Il Gabbiano Jonathan Livingston
|Kaija vārdā Džonatans Livingstons
|Džonatanas Livingstonas Žuvėdra
|Галебот Џонатан Ливингстон (Galebot Dzonatan Livingston)
|Jonathan Livingston Meuchi
|Fernão Capelo Gaviota
|Fernão Capelo Gaviota
|Pescarusul Jonathan Livingston
|Чайка по имени Джонатан Ливингстон (Chaika po imeni Dzhonatan Livingston)
|Čajka Jonathan Livingston
|Jonatan Livingston Galeb
|Juan Salvador Gaviota
|Juan Salvador Gaviota
|Måsen, berättelsen om Jonathan Livingston Seagull
|Martı Jonathan Livingston
In 1980 a Spanish edition was published by Pomaire (Barcelona)
featuring illustrations by photographer Jordi Olavarrieta, translated by
Carol and Frederick Howell.
In 1981 a French edition was published by Flammarion (Paris) featuring
illustrations by photographer Jordi Olavarrieta, translated by Pierre Clostermann.
In popular culture
- A 1972 parody, Marvin Stanley Pigeon, was published by Thomas Meehan in The New Yorker:
"Marvin Stanley Pigeon was no ordinary pigeon. While other pigeons
spent their time grubbing for food, Marvin Stanley Pigeon worked away on
his book on the window ledge outside the Manuscript Room of the Public Library in Bryant Park. He wanted to get his novel done in time for Macmillan's spring list."
- Hubert Bermont wrote and published another parody, Jonathan Livingston Fliegle, with illustrations drawn by Harold Isen, in 1973. Its content contained many examples of Jewish humor.
- Another parody featuring Jewish humor, Jonathan Segal Chicken, was written by Sol Weinstein
and Howard Albrecht. A self-proclaimed fable, it tells the story of a
high-flying fabulous fowl who “dreamed of being more than soup.” It was
published by Pinnacle Books in May 1973.
- Also in 1973, Price Stern Sloan published Ludwig von Wolfgang Vulture, a Satire, written by Dolph Sharp, a story about a vulture determined to push the limits on speed-reading.
- In 1998, a parody titled Jonathan Livingston Trafalgar Square Pigeon, written by David K. Lines, was published by Random House.
- The book was mentioned frequently by Newfoundland businessman Geoff Stirling, who incorporated elements of the book into station graphics and overnight programming for his television channel CJON-DT.
- The children's arts charity The Flying Seagull Project is named after the novella.
- The book was featured in the 2018 second season of the Showtime series I'm Dying Up Here.
- The character is referenced in a 1997 episode of The Simpsons. In "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer," the Sea Captain exclaims, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull! We're on a collision course!"
- The character Mike Brady, in the 1995 parody The Brady Bunch Movie, is reading the book while in bed.
- In the 1980 film The Nude Bomb, Bill Dana plays a character named Jonathan Levinson Seigle.
- In Nina Simone's performance of "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" at the 1976 Montreaux Jazz Festival, just after the mid-point, she sings, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull ain't got nothing on me!"
- The animated television series Puppy Dog Pals features, as a recurring character, a seagull named Jonathan.
- The digital multiplayer board game "100% Orange Juice" features seagulls from Flying Red Barrel as enemies. The seagull boss is called "Big the Jonathan."
- In Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale By Liz Braswell,
Scuttle's Great-Grandgull Jona claims her Great-Grandfather gets
confused sometimes and refers to her as "Jonathan. Jonathan Livingston."
- The book is referenced in the chapter "The Corsican Brothers" by the title character of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack.
- The book is referenced in Key and Peele skit "Prepared for
Terries," in which the events of the work are reconfigured as a loose
allegory of the sketch's own questions of conformity in the face of
- The book is referenced in Season 4, episode 5 of Showtime's Ray Donovan.
- The book is referenced in the movie The Chambermaid (Kino Lorber).
- The book is referenced in a Singapore drama, "Morning Express."
The novella inspired the production of a film of the same title in 1973. The film was made by Hall Bartlett many years before computer-generated effects were available. In order to make seagulls act on cue and perform aerobatics, Mark Smith of Escondido, California built radio-controlled gliders that looked like real seagulls from a few feet away. This footage was not used in the final cut of the film.
Bach had written the film's original screenplay, but he sued
Paramount Pictures before the film's release because he felt that there
were too many discrepancies between the film and the book. Director
Bartlett had allegedly violated a term in his contract with Bach which
stated that no changes could be made to the film's adaptation without
Bach took offense to scenes Bartlett had filmed which were not present
in the book, most notably the sequence in which Jonathan is suddenly
attacked by a wild hawk, which was voiced by Bartlett himself.
Ultimately, the court ruled that Bach's name would be taken off the
screenplay credits, and that the film would be released with a card
indicating that Bach disapproved of the final cut. Bach's attorney
claimed, "It took tremendous courage to say this motion picture had to
come out of theaters unless it was changed. Paramount was stunned."
The Grammy Award-winning soundtrack album was composed and performed by Neil Diamond and produced by Tom Catalano. It won the 1974 Grammy Award
as Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television
Special. The album apparently also made more money than the film,
selling two million copies in the United States, 400,000 in France, 250,000 in Germany, 200,000 in Canada  and 100,000 in the United Kingdom.
The Irish actor Richard Harris won a Grammy in 1973 for the Audiobook LP Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
To date, Harris's reading has not been released on any other format.
Versions read by the author, Richard Bach, have been released on LP,
cassette, and CD.
And the second or last name was inspired by:
The Science of the Lemurian Flow.
This idea came somewhat from the laid back ideas of surfers on a mystical level where surfing was a religious experience and a key to enlightenment for surfers around the world. Many life long surfers see surfing as a spiritual discipline leading to enlightenment and a better life for themselves and their families worldwide.
There is something very humanizing about Surfing approached from as a spiritual discipline I have always noticed.
I was a surfer from 1960 to 1969 when I switched more to skiing, body surfing, boogie boarding and scuba and snorkeling which I had also done from around 1960 also living on the coast of southern California from 1952 mostly until the present in San Diego, Los Angeles County and north towards San Francisco. Also, I lived in Mt. Shasta from 1976 until 1992 off and on too with my family and children where skiing was wonderful while I lived there every winter.
Also, Lemuria was from Baja California up into Oregon up the California Coast thousands of years ago as a civilization that traveled to the stars which I remember from past lives.
So, JONATHAN FLOW