Posts tagged "books"

November 18 2023
Tags: books

"A book is not just a collection of pages; it's a passport to other worlds, a time machine, and a lifelong companion."


July 14 2023

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read? and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you dont know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

December 03 2022

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read

Mark Twain

March 18 2012

Seth Godin's recent work is the poster-child of a kind of 'new apocalypticism', an idea which has blossomed since the economic meltdown of 2008. Classic apocalypticism is a specific kind of belief for oppressed communities: that everything will come right in the end for the believing community after all that's wrong with the world is swept away.

This 'new apocalypticism' does something similar for people who's lives have been rocked by the breakdown of the 'capitalism compact'---which contained amongst other things the belief that a rising tide raises all boats. This idea has been blown apart by the financial crisis and ensuing economic fallout, and those most affected are looking for something new to believe. Something which will make the injustices of recent economic history right.

This loss of belief in the old ideas (the economic metanarrative if you like) is the most telling change of the last few years. People feel betrayed that the dramatic economic expansion since 9-11 was actually an illusion caused by a debt bubble--and doubly so because a few 21st century 'robber barons' are the only ones to benefit.

The message of the 'new apocalypticism' is that the old way was wrong. It's how you feel that matters, not the actuality of your situation which is in all probability rather depressing. A great army of authors, social theorists, coaches and motivational speakers has adopted this idea and most of Seth's recent work (post 2008) focuses on it from several different angles. Variously, according to Seth, we all need to become; leaders, corporate innovators, irreplaceable artists and marketing storytellers. His most basic notion is the idea that 'how people feel about a product or service is three times more important than the actual product or service.' Given that the middle class has experienced a decline in living standard since the 1990's and that people are working harder and longer (those with jobs at least) than any time since the pre-war era they are looking for something to make themselves feel better and Seth is making a successful business out of doing exactly what he preaches: making his customers feel better.