Thursday, 5 April 2007

Where are we going?

Another way to think about our writing is to imagine that we are looking at our experiences through different types oflenses’. This is a common metaphor found in many academic text books to explain the different approaches and explanations to various subjects. Using this method means that the samething’ or phenomenon (for example an organisation, romance, creativity, wealth, gardening, art, music, ethics, morals etc) can be described, explained, and judged in very different ways depending how different people see it. Some academic writers worry a great deal about extreme versions of the ‘all different views are equally valid’ approach (Check out Ken Wilber’s Boomertitis, and Steven Pinker The Blank Slate for more thoughts on this issue) as it leads to a thing called ‘relativism’ which is sort of like ‘hedging your bets’ about what things really are.

So how were we going to define this so called ‘territory’ that our map referred to? Indeed, what were we going to write about? As we talked through ‘our project’ we noticed a common theme emerge, and this was summed up in the question:

How was it that two, reasonably intelligent and experienced adult men, in their 30’s and 40’s could still be regularly duped, caught out, wrong footed, and blind-sided by people and events?

The types of things we had in mind were, of course, endless. Erratic bosses, jobs and professions that didn’t turn out ‘as expected’, ‘let-downs’, Machiavellian colleagues, fair-weather friends, inconsistent significant others, changing beliefs, surprises, disappointments, love, hate, betrayal, and anything else that might appear on someone’s arm as a tattoo.

It might be helpful at this point to shut your eyes and imagine our conversations being held against an imaginary soundtrack featuring Homer Simpson style ‘Dohhh’s, and adolescent ‘Duhhh’s, as we traded examples of our gullibility (sometimes this was to our amusement, sometimes to our embarrassment, and often with surprising personal insights) The obvious questions that came from these exchanges were:

How had we succumbed to gullibility?

Were we destined for eternal gullibility?

Could we do anything to inoculate ourselves against future gullibility?

Quickly grabbing a metaphorical marker pen we drew a thick black border around the land of Gullibility and started to colour it in

Suitably inspired you can now probably see how we hit upon what we thought was a witty and original title for our work – ‘Gullibles Travels’, and for a short while we flattered ourselves with our modest genius and inventiveness only to discover (via Amazon.Com) that there were at least eight other publications with exactly the same title! From authors’ Steven Clark Goad, John T Dybvig, Ring Lardner, Steve Allen, Margaret E. Stuck, Billy Connolly,( yes that Billy Connolly) Denis G. Clark, & Cash Peters. Oh Noooooo – a Set Back

Well, not really. You see, discovering you aren’t the originator of an idea and that you lack general awareness of the work and ideas of a lot of other people is something we feel is highly important in the land of Gullibility and something we’ll come back to. Our set back also inspired our creativity (aah a spot of ‘creative tension’) and so we endeavoured to come up with another equally witty title that hinted at the several themes or ‘notions’ we had in mind to write about and reflected our ‘view-point’ which was based upon the following eight assumptions about the wo/man in the street:

  1. We tend to navigate through life the best we can with the resources we’ve got.
  2. Navigating through’ often becomes ‘muddling through’ which doesn’t always benefit us.
  3. We devote more time to our muddles than sorting out how we have muddled and stopping it.
  4. General school & university education keeps us remote from a wide range of helpful ideas and explanations of the behaviour and intentions of people that are often locked up in dense academic texts on philosophy and the social sciences.
  5. We haven’t got a map to help us find stuff that might be interesting & helpful
  6. We are at a disadvantage to people who do something about ,3,4 &5 above.
  7. We can do less of 2 above if we do something about ,3,4,&5 above
  8. We will join the people characterised in 7 who give themselves an advantage through putting effort into guided learning and changing

In the end we cribbed Swift’s work again to come up with our title:

Travels into Several Remote Notions of the World.

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