I blame Malcolm Gladwell for the skepticism with which I picked up Susan Cain’s Quiet. I distrust his books for the grand theories and metaphors he enI blame Malcolm Gladwell for the skepticism with which I picked up Susan Cain’s Quiet. I distrust his books for the grand theories and metaphors he envisions within society, but to me look like a mess of cobbled research, marketed for a particular brand of American. I was ready to sharpen the scalpel of unforgiving critical analysis, and vivisect Quiet’s every sentence. Cain does make some missteps throughout, but there’s enough good stuff to warrant a reading.
Part one especially flounders as it tries to create context. Cain infiltrates a Tony Robbins cult/seminar, and participates in its manic orgy of happiness with a kind of secret superiority, and goes on to later proclaim that Moses was an introvert. Yes, the biblical Moses, famous for enjoying quiet walks on the beach, and evenings in with a good book and glass of red. Color me pandered.
Fortunately, the dubious stuff (at least to me, because, well, sure, we can look at the historical stuff all we want with our modern glasses, but it seems a smidgeon fraudulent and appropriate-y to stamp historical figures, not to mention, allegorical figures, by very modern standards), and the namedropping has a bit of a “Hey! This super rich person is an introvert and you can too [sic]!” feel to it, is somewhat short-lived. It carries on throughout to only some small degree, but does not outweigh the usefulness of Quiet.
The book hits its stride in its search to identify what introversion means, and how to nurture that. Cain knows how highly extroversion is upheld in modern-day America, and Quiet does a lot of good in introducing research relating to introversion while finding the worthwhile takeaways, and goes beyond just the this-is-what-you-are to how-you-can-use-this. And she does all this without bashing extroverts, acknowledging that people of both mindsets need each other’s behaviors and mindsets.
I wish Cain had dug a little deeper in the origins chapter, and with certain implications, but to her credit, she stays mostly well grounded. There’s an interesting, albeit totally background, thread about intro- and extroversion’s relation to consumerism and entertainment, and their exacerbation via technology, but, for better or worse, she keeps things concrete. There’s also a cross-section with extroversion and today’s premium on positivity that’s largely ignored. Serious, sad, doubtful, thoughtful, and the like, i.e. emotions one might more often associate with introversion, seem to have been relegated to a far corner to make room for enthusiasm for just about everything. And no, everything is not awesome. The furthest Cain takes things is a suggestion that extroversion, and the behaviors it engenders, had a hand in the recent recession. All in all though, I think Quiet is neater for being reined-in, and only hinting at the possibility of larger social/psychological/biological dynamics that underpin our world.
Quiet abounds with nuggets of interesting information, like how some research shows that open workspaces can be detrimental to productivity. Quiet is a decent blend of information, and inspiration. It shies from self-help, but Cain’s words have the potential to empower in allowing the reader’s own self-discovery, and further allows the research to speak for itself without concluding in lifestyle-altering imperatives or flimsy calls to action. Cain understands the introvert’s plight, and proves that despite our reserve, we need not lead lives of quiet desperation. ...more
STORY: There was a point in time that I flat out disliked Wes Anderson’s movies. He seemed like the prototypical hipster that made movies only concernSTORY: There was a point in time that I flat out disliked Wes Anderson’s movies. He seemed like the prototypical hipster that made movies only concerned with being different, weird, unique in the (my fingers attempting to imbue my words with all possible contempt) beautiful snowflake sense of those words.
And then I saw The Darjeeling Limited. I was on a mindless autumn road trip to Spokane with a now long lost friend. We had an evening to kill and the weather was too cold to spend much time outside so we got two tickets for the movie, without my knowing it was directed by Anderson. Something clicked, I loved the film, and it spurred a very cautious reconsideration of both Anderson and his films. The incongruities that seemed innate to his films and inane in purpose (and still throw me for loops), became endearing in their refusal of reality and logic.
THE BOOK: In short, The Wes Anderson Collection is partly Matt Zoller Seitz introducing, overviewing, and briefly analyzing Anderson’s first seven movies via short essays, and the rest is transcribed discussions between Seitz and Anderson about said movies.
The book is quite good if you enjoy Anderson’s films. The background information, and tracing of Anderson’s filmic influences is somewhat insightful. The movie stills, and behind the scenes shots are excellent, especially given how obsessively Anderson organizes his shots; it’s worth seeing them printed on paper. And Max Dalton’s art throughout references the movies while having it’s own picture book quality.
The one docked star is for the awkwardness between Seitz and Anderson that other readers have no doubt picked up on. Seitz could have reserved his pet theories for other spaces in the book, but continuously pushes questions on an ever cagey Anderson that answers with a blunt “Hmmm” or “Right”. It’s a little uncomfortable to read, and Anderson doesn’t develop the tact to satisfyingly answer but not answer those questions until the last interview.
Conclusion: I’d only recommend Collection to fans of Anderson because, while it does cast some light on the interesting creative processes behind his first seven movies, it doesn’t show a whole lot all in all, and from the wrong perspective it might make those films look like products of luck, random choice, and cultural cherrypicking. It might be enough for a fan, but a bookstore viewing will suffice. More than anything, just go watch the movies. ...more
The Crossroads of Should and Must: also known as yet another whim purchase that had me scratching my head as to why I bought it upon cracking the firsThe Crossroads of Should and Must: also known as yet another whim purchase that had me scratching my head as to why I bought it upon cracking the first pages, also known as TCoSaM. This book isn’t meant for me because its intended audience is the artistically compelled; those feeling their dreams are not being fulfilled, wasting away in jobs they don’t like, or those with the nagging sensation that the adult world and its imperatives have repressed their calling. Enter Elle Luna to draw the boundary between the shoulds of life, the external expectations that influence us, and the musts, the inner voice that speaks of our dreams and who we really want to be.
I found TCoSaM to be somewhat shallow in its use of quotes from famous people (it made me a little sad to see how far I’ve grown from the optimism of Joseph Campbell), the armchair psychology exercises that purport to look inward, and an underlying paper-thin philosophy that reduces life to two choices, the better of which is following one’s dreams. It’s saturated with a motivational poster-y feeling of dropping everything you’re doing and moving to New York and writing that book while painting that thing and living your ~~**DREAMS**~~ that we know just isn’t sustainable for everyone. And although its given a sidelong glance, I think these ideas discount how a lot of meaningful art is born from difficulty and hardship outside of the life of the struggling whatever.
TCoSaM does have a nice visual style throughout though, mixing various type with colorful drawings, paintings, and photographs that all make for a refreshing representation of Luna’s ideas. And as said earlier, although not for me, the book could be useful to someone seeking a little direction in (re)discovering their artistic self, or the confidence necessary to following that path. It’s a path that’s fraught with self-doubt, and although maybe insubstantial overall, this could serve as the small impetus that many projects require. ...more