In explaining the list, the author prefers, “why should you read this book…?” to explaining “what this book made me feel.” Agreed. “The question is quite a revealing one, though, and says a lot about our cultural climate. It seems to me that our whole approach to life, from primary school up, is based on emotional response. Probably because we’ve given up on the possibility of truth…
“As a result in western culture, we learn to feel, we don’t learn to think. And narratives are one of the means to engaging our emotions… and thus we get hooked. Why else do advertisers spend so much time on creating ‘product narratives’? More worryingly, why else do campaigners put so much effort in creating a ‘political narrative’ for their electioneering candidates?” Indeed.
I freely choose to agree with William James who said, “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.” But according to biologist Anthony Cashmore (gotta love that name), I am wrong because free will doesn’t exist. It’s all a matter of chemistry and the environment:
“When biologist Anthony Cashmore claims that the concept of free will is an illusion, he’s not breaking any new ground. At least as far back as the ancient Greeks, people have wondered how humans seem to have the ability to make their own personal decisions in a manner lacking any causal component other than their desire to ‘will’ something. But Cashmore, Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, says that many biologists today still cling to the idea of free will, and reject the idea that we are simply conscious machines, completely controlled by a combination of our chemistry and external environmental forces.”
Examples of my understanding of the definition of an elevator speech:
You’re a bright young businesswoman with credentials waiting for an elevator on the first floor and you’re on your way to the eleventh floor for an important meeting at a high class firm. The door opens, and as you step in, Warren Buffett appears behind you, enters the elevator, and pushes the button for the tenth floor. You’re the only two people in the elevator. He notices you and not only asks you what you do for a living but is interested in your career goals. The elevator starts to move. What you say is your elevator speech–and you’ve got a very short time to impress him.
Or…you’re an unpublished novelist and a similar situation occurs but this time it’s your favorite writer, one that you know has influence and helps new writers get in the door with major publishers. You introduce yourself and tell him you’ve written your first novel. He is gracious and then says, “What’s it about?” You’ve got maybe thirty seconds to knock his socks off.
If the formative years of one’s life have a huge influence on how one turns out, as some experts in childhood development suggest, then a brief examination of my early years may explain a few things about my worldview.
My parents were people of the Great Depression, having started their young life together in 1934, during tough times. They had no car and lived in a small rental house—along with a Mexican tenant—near the railroad tracks in my father’s hometown, close to where my father worked. My mother fed hobos off the back porch until the traffic got too heavy; their house had been “marked.” She recalls these tramps in their big black coats, hungry for food, and remembers seeing the campfires by the tracks at night. These were desperate times for my parents, but their lives were whole. They had decided to be happy. They eventually acquired a Ford, and with my older sister, moved to a highly mortgaged country home in my mother’s hometown, a small Northeastern Ohio farming community of about 200 people—that is, if one were to count the farms within a three or four mile radius. Our town had a general store, a one-room schoolhouse built in 1810, a post office, and a Presbyterian church built in 1851. The schoolhouse, where my older sister attended, was eventually closed and converted to a larger post office during my time there. Both the church and post office still stand, the church being an active part of the local community to this day. I was born in 1942 and spent my first ten years in that little village, built on the old stagecoach route to the West.