I picked this book up on a whim, and it turned out to be one of the better books I have found on dealing with productivity as related to people. I fouI picked this book up on a whim, and it turned out to be one of the better books I have found on dealing with productivity as related to people. I found myself thinking about colleagues, administrators and even my students as I read through. I don't enjoy re-reading books but this is one that will benefit me more the second time around.
This is a book to add to your arsenal if you are seeking ways to get people motivated, and keep them producing at a high level. I am certain some people might misinterpret what I am writing as some might read my words as a sort of nod in favor of manipulation. However, productivity is not always about meeting some company's projected profit, it is more than that. This book is about meeting people where they are at, understanding that they just might want to do better, but simply lack the necessary tools required to effect more desirable outcomes.
Because of that, I suggest that anyone reading this review assume best intentions. More than that, we live in a world of broken and wounded people, I see nothing wring with understanding what motivates people and what hinders their chance at social, emotional and economic success. Everyone may not start out in the same situation, but we all have the potential to do well for ourselves.
Again, I am not seeking to correlate what Jeff Toister has articulated in very understandable terms, on how to get people to optimize a company's bottom line. My focus is on making them feel better about themselves and if they happen to be better employees, parents, children, students and scholars, then so much the better. The world will be better for it.
Read the book and see if it doesn't help you understand Human nature just a little more....more
This is the third of Shelby Foote's three-volume coverage of the American Civil War. While he was not trained as an historian, his twelve years of resThis is the third of Shelby Foote's three-volume coverage of the American Civil War. While he was not trained as an historian, his twelve years of research place his work in the realm of scholars. More than that, his beautiful prose, poignant observations and thoughtful coverage of the war yields a comprehensive understanding, not only of what happened, but how devastating the rift turned out to be. Regardless of the war's outcome, it would have lasting repercussions which we, as a nation have still not yet overcome. ...more
Made to Stick provides insight regarding why some ideas take hold while others do not. The authors Chip and Dan Heath use entertaining stories to demoMade to Stick provides insight regarding why some ideas take hold while others do not. The authors Chip and Dan Heath use entertaining stories to demonstrate that effective communication changes people. The Heath brothers accomplish this by explaining how people think, how the reasons behind decisions are not always immediately evident and even counter intuitive.
Borrowing from successful advertising campaigns and teaching regimens, the Heaths cover some ingenious methods used by those who not only want to get their message across but, to make it stick.
It may be a stretch to classify this book in the category of meta-cognition. However, it does heavily deal with how people think and how yet others have capitalized on that knowledge to develop effective advertizing campaigns and successful educational endeavors. The worthiness of a book such as this has to do with the sway these techniques hold in recruiting change of thinking and more importantly, how easily they can be applied in other situations where change is the goal.
Don't let the length of this cursory review dissuade you from reading Made to Stick. It is a great book with many useful, practical insights....more
This short book has a series of topics on Human motivation which are short and to the point. In addition, there is a bibliography which expands on eacThis short book has a series of topics on Human motivation which are short and to the point. In addition, there is a bibliography which expands on each topic and references/credits the authors whose seminal ideas comprise this tome.
I'll be looking for more Daniel Pink books. His style is informative without being pedantic. His deliverables are clearly stated and he comes through with relevant,convincing real-world examples which are neither contrived nor skewed with opinion.
"Drive" is a book to have in your library because it serves as an ideal reference book. I have already picked three books to order from those on the list recommended to further enlightenment. I already own a couple and will be ordering a couple at a time until I own the entire collection.
I have often maintained that with the mass of information available today, the future belongs to those who can assimilate it all and make sense of the inundation. Daniel Pink is such an author among others who have also distinguished themselves with this genre of informative books. To me, Daniel Pink is shoulder to shoulder with writers like Malcolm Gladwell.
The end of my fortieth decade was celebrated by reading this book. I received World Without End as a gift from a friend who gave me the book after I m The end of my fortieth decade was celebrated by reading this book. I received World Without End as a gift from a friend who gave me the book after I mentioned to him that I had read Ken Folett's, Pillars of the Earth.
World Without End is significant to me because it is the last book I read before turning fifty. As it turns out, Scott and his wife, Toots celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on 5 September of this year. They were married just 11 days before I was born. There's your tidbit if useless information for the day. Haven't had enough yet? Read on. World Without End is Folett's sequel to his epic novel written some 13 years ago. I was not let down because, World Without End picks up some two hundred years after Pillars of the Earth with a smattering of the first book's descendants.
If you are the kind of reader who enjoys getting a little education tossed in as you are reading a good novel, then these two books are for you. If you like powerful characters and strong women then this is definitely a book for you. Like the first book, the story has sex, violence, religion, intrigue, politics, social justice and a little architecture thrown in for good measure. It also is a story rich with historical information about Europe during the time of the Black Death; the Bubonic Plague. It shines a light on the logic of the time and moreover, effectively illustrates how the world view, influenced by the Church and feudal Europe dictated the parameters or rather the constraints people were forced to deal with.
While the story line is not difficult to follow, it is just a little bit over 1,000 pages long. It isn't something I could knock out in a couple of days. It is interesting enough however that you will find yourself thinking about the characters and cannot wait to pick up the book again and get back into the story. There are a few villains in the mix - the kind of people who we all love to hate - most likely because their wickedness of character is timeless. I suppose that is the nature of personality flaws.
The heroes in the story's lives are chronicled over nearly five decades so, as a side note, the book turned out to have a special significance to me considering the time frame I was reading the story and, by the bye, fifty years doesn't seem all that long. That said, it is a fair amount of time for a story to play itself out.
I felt a deep emotional connection with the protagonists, Merthin Bridger - the carpenter and his sweetheart, Caris Wooler - the strong-willed woman whose sheer determination and love of Humanity never allowed her world to hold her back. In short, Caris is a woman that the universe could never put parenthesis around. I will not elaborate much further on the story because I don't want to deny you the pleasure of witnessing their character development. I will say however, I felt a little sad when I finally closed the book for the last time.
Folett's story-telling abilities are second to none and his attention to detail serve the story two-fold; believability with an educational process tossed in along the way.
The book could have not come out at a better time for me. I could relate to Caris and Merthin. Folett's message is that regardless of what one's lot in life may be, Life itself is precious. It is the only life we have so, we must persist regardless. He also illustrates the value of problem-solving, the beauty of life, the attendant nobility of living a life of service to others and, above all, doing the best with you have; despair is part of life but, that is no reason to give up. Sometimes, winners aren't winners after all.
I cannot exactly recall what Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence put it but, I will paraphrase him knowing that it captures the spirit in which it was intended. He said sometimes, the real heroes are not those who do extraordinary things like jumping on a grenade in order to save others. Heroism is a quality of character that is as simple as meeting life on its terms and doing what is expected with no hope for reward other than having the knowledge that what is being done is what needs to be done. It is doing ordinary things - like being a parent who is there for a child, every day. There is also something merited in those who are simply true to themselves (remember Polonius' advice in Hamlet?) It is a quality that seems to be shared by other characters in Follet's novel as well.
This is why I find Follett's writing satisfying on so many different levels. While the story is set in the 1300's, the lessons to be gained are contemporary - not because Folett is a writer looking back but because strife, greed, pride, and persistence are universal characteristics that exist throughout humanity as a whole. I am firmly convinced the reason we read novels and short stories is because, like dreams, they offer us a means of 'gaming-out' conflicts. They provide a safe environment for contemplation at a deeper level. They create a sense of connectedness - like so many oral traditions - where lessons are an integral part of the story-telling process.
Folett's story-telling abilities give his readers an opportunity to understand Human nature and insight as to why some people turn out the way they do. Sometimes evil and good are only relative. In my fifty years, I have come to realize that as well; the world is not simply black and white - it is only shades of gray. Moreover, faced with the circumstances life has to offer us, we have two choices; give up or keep trying. More often than not, the circumstances that are out of our immediate control will always exist. How we choose to deal with such constraints is entirely a matter of personal choice. Bad things are going to happen, how we choose to deal with them is what defines our personal character.
World Without End is a celebration of the Human spirit. What an apropos gift for me as I've rounded out my first half century of life. It is just what the doctor ordered and more importantly, just what I needed.
This book succinctly summarizes the plight of Americas' indigenous people. I found myself reading the history feeling as though I was pushed off a cliThis book succinctly summarizes the plight of Americas' indigenous people. I found myself reading the history feeling as though I was pushed off a cliff. This sustained free-fall just never seemed to get better. This is not a 'feelgood' book; it echos themes of betrayal, bigotry and avarice as Native Americans steadily were broken down and extinguished and their way of life was encroached upon and displaced by a budding nation's fantasy quest to fulfill its Euro-centric ideology of Manifest Destiny to justify its explosive westward expansion toward the Pacific coast.
The book is laid out as a chronicle and references interesting events in a time line which gives a sense of contextual reality as the tragic history which, if it were not true, would read like some fantastic tale of genocide. Unfortunately, the reality is weighted with historical evidence and this book serves as a telling synopsis of how Human Beings are capable of destroying entire cultures when greed and ambition are served by religious and social conventions bent to serve selfish gains.
My emotions raged from surprise to rage and, hopelessness to profound despair. Dee Brown, the librarian-turned-author has delivered a timeless piece of work which challenges any thinking person to question how history is being taught.
The book touches me on so many levels - things I can neither divulge in this writing and things I cannot even begin to explain. Nonetheless, it forces me to reckon with who I am as a member of Humanity and it compels me to carry a deeper understanding for what it means to be alive.
My ethnicity is that of a 'mestizo' (Sp) - mixed blood person's - heritage. I carry the mongrel mix of my European and middle eastern roots and my DNA also belies the heritage of America's native people. Consequently, the angst I feel is one which tugs at bittersweet sense of right and wrong, of destiny and direction; my ancestors walked this earth both as conquerors and as conquered.
What the book does for me is it re-acquaints me with how the world is never simply black and white. My sense of social justice and moreover the deep understanding that every Human Being has an intrinsic value are clouded with shades of gray. What disturbs me most however is how wholesale destruction of a people can be carried out by what I can only describe as God-fearing, decent Human Beings driven by wanton, self-serving interests. Even more appalling is just how far we, as a species are willing to go in order to justify avarice.
I highly recommend this book - not because of the repulsiveness of violence - but, because it serves as a touchstone for our collective consciousness. In a world where atrocities seem the rule rather than an exception to the Human experience, I believe this book serves our better interests because it acts as a mirror upon which we can reflect. Its sharp focus serves to dull the lines of distinction that we love to invoke in our need to set ourselves apart from our fellow Human Beings.
Such reflection leads to contemplation and cognition which, far and away, is far better than rationalization of the variety where we can diminish the value of anyone who happens to be different. The truest danger we all are at risk for is mistakenly believing that our differences are so great that the only explanation which will suffice is to deem one another inferior and thus not worthy of the full measure of respect that we all deserve - simply because we are members of the Human species.
One thread that I found particularly fascinating was the level of eloquence all of the chiefs quoted in their communication. If anything, it sheds light on a highly intelligent, cultured and elegant in their dialogue - quite different from the invocations of noble savages of James Fenimore Cooper or the bigoted rants of 'civilized' European descendants and Hollywood archetypes so prevalent in the movies of my childhood. These people weren't 'John Wayne' Indians.
Do yourself a favor and read what they had to say. Their words are brilliant and thoughtful. ...more
I read this book 35 years ago for the first time when I was fifteen years old. It remains one of my all time favorites. AfterQue Viva Snuffy Ledoux!
I read this book 35 years ago for the first time when I was fifteen years old. It remains one of my all time favorites. After re-reading - because one of my friends told me I reminded him of Amarante Cordova - and because I always considered myself to be more of a Jose Mondragon - the themes remain contemporary. They remind me why I consider this timeless piece of literature to be such a great demonstration of artistry and craftsmanship.
Milagro Beanfield War is an enchanting story, told by a man who has a deep and abiding respect for the people he wrote about. His descriptions of the colorful characters and the beautiful landscapes reveal a man who is faithful to describing northern New Mexico Latino culture with clarity and sensitivity to all their quirky nuances.
Nichols reminds me why I love the northern part of the state so much. The rugged terrain is as breath-taking beautiful as its hard-scrabble inhabitants. I am convinced their vibrant culture and world view has been shaped by the land in which they live. Their ingenuity and tenacity are not as caricatured as you might be given to conclude according to Nichols' descriptions. Their bravado, sense of pride, chutzpah are not an exaggeration at all. Moreover, extraordinary things do happen up there and what is even more unusual is that is is not seen as anything out of the ordinary at all. Nichols does such a fantastic job of describing the terrain that he reminds me why I love Northern New Mexico - Taos in particular - so much.
Plainly put, this story is entertaining, comical and it sheds light on yet another group of Americans whose peculiarities spice up an already delicious story.
I felt a connection to all of the characters. However, if pressed to choose one, I believe my favorite would be the immortal Amarante Cordova who buys bullets for his antique .45 with food stamps.
Aside from Pacheco's huge, white pet pig that continually escapes and wreaks havoc in Milagro, the cast of characters include;
Joe Mondragon, the sawed-off banty rooster. The protagonist who unwittingly starts the war when he decides to irrigate his little bean field - of course the symbolism should not be wasted here as beans cause gas and Joe's little field caused a big stink.
Bernabe Montoya, the tired though politically astute sheriff whose comic-tragic life is measured by making mountains out of mole hills and mole hills out of mountains,
Seferino Pacheco, the illiterate old man who can nonchalantly critique Steinbeck, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Platero, Asturias, Garcia Lorca and Pablo Neruda but spends the lions' share of his time haplessly chasing down his wayward, errant pet pig,
Onofre Martinez, the one armed enigma who lost his arm to a fleet of butterflies and whose claim to shame is marked by having a son become a state police officer,
Charlie Bloom, the Harvard Lawyer cum honorary Chicano and publisher of a little news paper called 'The Voice of the People,'
A host of bad guys led by the evil, Ladd Devine III, an equally pugnacious, little white man whose size belies his ambitions, and
the women of Milagro who range from a pebble-tossing granny to loyal, devoted and equally nutty, delightfully powerful women.
These characters represent the tapestry of Milagros' comedic bravado and cloaked angst with its temperaments and dispositions.
I have read that some people do not like Nichols' depiction of the dominant culture and actually take exception to what has been described as the 'white man's burden.' Such detractors are really missing the point because the story is about a nostalgic look at a culture and way of life that is quickly waning. As a case in point, Onofre Martinez articulates the point quite eloquently (p 150)when someone makes an off handed comment about gringos;
"'Wait a minute!' Onofre Martinez stammered excitedly, emotionally placing his hand on Ray Gusdorf's shoulder, 'This is my neighbor, and he is a gringo, not even a little bit coyote [half-breed:]. But he's been in the valley as long as I remember, and I consider him to be of my people. And that white man over there told us these things about the dam and the conservancy and showed us the maps, I consider him of my people too, even though he is a lawyer, even though he speaks funny Anglo Spanish you can hardly understand. But I believe he at least tries to speak the truth,and a lawyer who does that should get a big gold medal to hang around his neck. I don't consider Nick Rael to be of my people because he works against my interests... So, I don't believe this is a brown against white question. This is a only one kind of people against another kind of people with different ideas. There are brown people and white people on both sides...People are people...The brown people and white people on our side are better people because they are on the correct side, that's all..."
While many of the antiheroes in this story happen to be Anglo and the protagonists are mostly Latinos, the story would not change if the protagonists happened to be a group of backwater whites who were facing similar circumstances. Consequently, I don't really understand why someone, anyone would get ruffled about a white author writing about bad white guys. Apparently, Lonesome Dove doesn't evoke the same sort of bristled criticisms and, for that reason, I find the attacks on John Nichols unwarranted.
John Nichols has created a masterpiece, attentively woven with its muted colors of incredulity, tempered fatalism and brilliant splashes of hope.
I sincerely hope his magnum opus is not discounted because he has the temerity to celebrate the true essence of what is unique about being an American; diversity.
Finally, If you like magical realism, this book is perfect for you.
ps: There's nothing wrong with being like Amarante Cordova - although I still consider myself more like Joe Mondragon. And, hey Tony! You are crazier that Pacheco's pig!...more
A profound book - an easy, fast read. This is a book which I will be re-reading again because I am certain I missed a lot. I do appreciate the story lA profound book - an easy, fast read. This is a book which I will be re-reading again because I am certain I missed a lot. I do appreciate the story line as it is reflective of the angst many people experience when they come of age.
What I really appreciate from Siddhartha's story is that life is a process, a journey rather than a destination.
Siddhartha's life holds a greater meaning for us all in that it demonstrates that each of us has within us, the capacity for reason and wisdom is something which reveals itself to us with time.
To be certain, we all wrestle with our angels and perhaps that is what life is about - realizing that true perfection is not an eventuality but rather a process that can only be achieved through experience and patience.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone but especially to young adults because it can serve as a beacon when life is most confusing - a means of lighting the path for a lifetime of awakened decision-making and spiritual development. ...more
I've always had a tentative relationship with my religion. Like many, I take comfort in established, ritualized practices. On the other hand, I have aI've always had a tentative relationship with my religion. Like many, I take comfort in established, ritualized practices. On the other hand, I have a tough time with some of what I consider to be loopy mandates outlined by the Catholic Catechism.
One aspect about, A Prayer for Owen Meany definitely touched on Faith; how I reconcile the difference between knowing that G_d exists; and believing that his word is what has been faithfully communicated through the Bible.
Couple that with my mistrust for 'the government' and my love for the Constitution and I have the perfect setting for an exploration of what happens when the two mix.
Owen Meany is a Christ-like figure - the reluctant messiah who, for whatever reason - is tapped to make the supreme sacrifice; he is to die. It causes me to ponder how Jesus must have felt as he knew what was going to happen and how he dealt with that impending eventuality of his demise for a 'greater good.'
And what of altruism? How can one reconcile voluntary termination of one's very life when to do so involves an act so selfless that it means termination of life as we know it to exist in this dimension. It begs the question, is altruism really voluntary at all and moreover, does it make any sense?
What about those left behind? John Wheelright's retrospective recounts the life of his enigmatic friend and the events that precipitated his death. He is preoccupied with whether the senseless act of violence that killed Owen could have been avoided - whether the collision course was one of divine providence or merely the product of a self-directed destiny. In the process, John's story reveals the struggle between faith and reality; for John it was one of knowing the end result and looking back; for Owen, it was one of knowing the end result and moving toward it. While both took a lifetime to complete, I am not sure who suffered more in the end.
If this is a parallel story of Jesus of Nazareth and there are/were other people with whom he shared his earthly existence then, their spin on the chain of events that led to his death and how they perceived it opens a whole new story. I can easily surmise that their personal interpretations might vary and the depth of their grief drives them to revisit the 'greatest story ever told' for the rest of their lives.
There are also many symbolic parallels throughout the story as well. For instance, Owen Meany's initials might be related to the letter Omega - as in the Christ's declaration of being the 'alpha and the omega.' His relationship to 'John' - might this be a reference to the beloved apostle alluded to in the New Testament? How about the Mary Magdalene, perhaps an alliterative parallel to Hester - 'the Molester'; maybe an allusion to the Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne and the attendant consequences for having dared to love a man she could never have. How about her ability to evoke emotion and enjoy adulation of her fans. Yet despite her rock-star appeal, she was powerless to save the man she loved from with his date with destiny?
So many other questions arise like;
1] Is it easier to bitch about my government when I really have problems with my G_d? Civil disobedience beats the shit out of apostasy right? My government can jail me however, according to Pascal's gambit regarding the existence of G_d; violating the treatises of my faith can doom me for eternity.
2] Is this why fundamentalists work so hard at setting a status quo in their ever-changing world?
3] What do you do when your messiah - whom you never realized to be your messiah - is now your messiah and he is gone? You no longer can see him in the flesh. Is this the point of embarkation for the trip we call 'faith'?
4] How about the irony involved in being killed by someone else whose practiced religion calls for your destruction - even if you are the messiah?
I think about mistrust of my government which also played a role in Owen's death, the zealots and the existence of evil.
Like John Wheelright, I am a religious outsider. The struggle with my faith, striving to make sense of the religion of my birth. I take in my countryman's sacrosanct professions of faith and come away unconvinced.
Among my fellow Christian believers, there is a sea of difference where one set of perspectives takes precedence over another. Those who currently hold sway doggedly embrace the notion of a vengeful G_d that endorses 'an eye for an eye.' By convention, these practitioners of faith invoke the notion of self reliance as their excuse for turning a blind eye to the plight of a poor. Since G_d only helps those who help themselves, poverty must be an indication that such individuals are sinners - abandoned by the creator and therefore - of no consequence. The G_d of Abraham - whose eye is on the sparrow - is unmoved at the growling stomach of starving child.
Only in America do we protect an impoverished unborn human's right to be born into a mean world where they are guaranteed denial of equal access to education, food and a decent quality of life. We abandon them to the mean streets of what so proudly we hail as the greatest country on earth only to hunt them down years later. They are perfect fodder for the alter of object lessons because we prosecute them and even execute them in far greater numbers than members of the middle and upper class. We conveniently deny along the way that offenses committed by the poor had anything to do with the crimes perpetrated by religious approbation of avarice, wholesale exclusion and pin-pointed bigotry. It does make me wonder just what a messiah might make of it all and that is another reason why Owen Meany's character moves me.
I freely admit my bias; I am a John Irving fan and this is the book that did it for me.
I know Irving thoroughly studied the work of Charles Dickens so his story-telling utilizes techniques invoking craftsmanship reminiscent of that prolific storyteller. Irving's writing skill is second to none. He delivers a thought provoking, haunting narrative that leaves me continually revisiting this story.
A Prayer for Owen Meany is a meaning-of-life book of the highest order. It doesn't give us answers. It gives us questions to ponder - something infinitely more valuable. It informs. It frustrates. It entertains. It evokes a broad range of emotions. It has the potential for commuting what seems at first blush a life so common into a glimpse of the divine. It is the story of one man's epiphany and his ongoing struggle to reconcile faith with reality. It is a book of revelation - all at once apocalyptic and painfully redemptive.
Any book that can communicate on so many different levels is a book that will stand the test of time. This is why I consider this story among the top three books penned by any living writer I have read to date.
This is only part of why I love Owen Meany and why, - like the opening line,
"I am doomed to remember a small boy with a wrecked voice..."...more
This is one of my favorite books - and it is not even fiction.
Goleman has such a depth and breadth of knowledge that it is impossible to get everythinThis is one of my favorite books - and it is not even fiction.
Goleman has such a depth and breadth of knowledge that it is impossible to get everything he is saying in one single reading.
This book is such a powerful reference on understanding how people function in society that I often find myself looking up something or another that Daniel Goleman writes about when I read any given book.
This writer's ability to glean so much information is nothing short of incredible. Goleman has the ability to assimilate information and that is what I enjoy most.
The book may be a little old but, I keep it handy and it never loses its intellectual luster - now matter how dusty it gets.
His writing style is easy and he uses fancy words appropriately and with elegance without sounding pedantic. I suppose this is because he has subordinated himself to the topic at hand. Consequently, his loyalty to the subject of emotional intelligence makes it even more credible. ...more
I read this book a couple of years ago and just didn't like it at all. Re-reading it has caused Walter Isaacson to grow on me, immensely.
Isaacaon offI read this book a couple of years ago and just didn't like it at all. Re-reading it has caused Walter Isaacson to grow on me, immensely.
Isaacaon offers an glimpse into Albert Einstein's life that is both intimate and profound. This biography helps me to appreciate just the power of Einstein's contributions to Physics and moreover his impact on so many of the conveniences and technological advancements modern life offers to the unsuspecting. And yet, his Humanity, his imperfections personal failings help me to realize that we all suffer adversity in some way or another. We are in fact just ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Einstein's talent lay in his ability to navigate complexities in purely the world of the mind. His ability to posit difficult concepts was unhindered by his inability to perform the complex mathematical computations until which time he was forced to recon with his lack of mastery in the discipline. To me, that is probably the most fascinating idea I took away from this biography; if you don't have an answer, you seek solutions by formulating questions and seeking out the answers in a methodical, intelligent way. This is the genius of Einstein. Now, I would like to see someone like Malcolm Gladwell explore the 'how' behind Einstein's metacognitive capacities.
I come away from this with a sense of wonder about Einstein the Human Being. I also come away from this reading with an appreciation for Walter Isaacson, the researcher, writer and perhaps even student of Physics. His capacity to vet out complex theories and concepts is to be commended. This is not an easy read, but it certainly is worth the effort to keep up....more
"...one flew east, one flew west, and one flew over the cuckoo's nest."
I first read, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” when I was fourteen. I remember c"...one flew east, one flew west, and one flew over the cuckoo's nest."
I first read, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” when I was fourteen. I remember checking it out at the library and my only reason for picking it out was because I liked the name. The following year, Jack Nicholson starred as Randall Patrick McMurphy, the convict who decided to have himself placed in a psychiatric hospital in lieu of finishing out his prison sentence in a work camp. While no book can ever be matched by a movie, and Hollywood's rendition was not all that bad, it never came close to what Ken Kesey was able to accomplish with his prose.
McMurphy’s fateful decision to take on the ward tyrant Nurse Ratched - a twisted woman whose sinister control was unchallenged untl Randall McMurphy came along. McMurphy's arrival exposed Nurse Ratched's manipulative nature and her undermining the patients ability to improve their situation. This placed McMurphy and Ratched on a collision course.
At first blush, McMurphy appeared on the surface to be self-centered. However, he was soon forced to decide whether to secure his personal interests or sacrifice them for the greater good of his fellow inpatients.
Kesey had a powerful influence on my love for books and, while I typically never re-read a book, I decided to give this book another go after finishing Wallace Stegner's, “On Writing and Teaching Fiction.” Stegner is credited with having been a major influence on Ken Kesey who was a student of his at Stanford University where Kesey started his manuscript of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest.
In the thirty five years that have passed since I first read Cuckoo's nest, I am amazed at how much richer the story has become. At fourteen years old, I was particularly impressed by McMurphy's brash, devil-be-damned nature.
This time around, I was more affected by McMurphy's decision to take a stand. Because of that, the book was particularly disturbing. I suppose because with three and half of more decades of living under my belt, age has afforded me more opportunities to witness Man’s inhumanity to Man.
That said, I have seen far less McMurphy’s in my lifetime than I have seen people of the Nurse Ratched variety. McMurphys definitely seem to be waning in number. I have always had an abiding respect for the McMurphys of the world - more so now that I am older. They are becoming rarer by the day while the Ratched mentality seem to be ever on the rise. I may not like the Ratcheds of the world but I certainly do understand them.
This book continues to be on my short list of books to read if I was forced to be marooned on an abandoned island. I appreciate Kesey because of his ability to point out the intrinsic value of all Human Beings and moreover, his literary admonition that we ought never dismiss people on the basis of our pre-determined, prescriptive notions that tend to be overly dismissive simply because we are obsessed with status and social standing.
It reminds me of Mohadnas K. Ghandi’s observation that, “All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul."
The sooner we all realize we are all in it together – it meaning life – the less we will be inclined to diminish one another and basing such dismissal on arbitrary criteria that serve whatever personal or group interest to our own end....more