Friday, September 11, 2009

Review: Possible Futures: Creative Thinking for the Speed of Life by Jude Treder-Wolff

Possible Futures: Creative Thinking For The Speed of Life deconstructs the strands of our increasingly fast-paced, technology driven, and socially fragmented lives. Weaving together current research and information from the worlds of social psychology, economics, physics, business, and education, the book puts words to the psychological, emotional and social effects of the speed of life in these times and the consumer culture that drives it. Some key points: Creativity and relationship/networking skills as core competencies for success in the 21st century; The ways consumer culture continually redesigns what it means to have a good-enough life, with impacts on our sense of self, family life, and health. Addictive thinking and its effects on society; How we learn to deny, abandon and mistrust our intuitive, creative drives and what we can do to develop them at any point in our lives; The evidence that arts training, creative development, and arts-based experiences grow the brain and strengthen psychological resilience. Possible Futures is a handbook for living with the creativity, consciousness and connectedness we need to succeed in these paradigm-shifting times.

Received from the publicist for review.

There were some interesting quotes from the book:

"We need to be willing to develop our own creative capacity, to practice living with an awareness of the collective consequences of individual action, because the stakes are higher than our own self-interest."

"Schools prepare us for the world of organization-as-machine, with people as moving parts contained by it - they are a kind of "people factories" that reward us for cog-like behavior. Information is handed down, swallowed and thrown back up at test time."

"Intense, unexamined emotional conflicts can consume creative energy and misdirect the focus of attention."

That said, despite the obvious scientific slant, there were repeated religious references that were completely unnecessary for the material, as well as numerous bible quotations. One comment compared Jesus, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. - and not in a "which one of these does not fit with the others" way.

The author also charmingly referred to St. Patrick's Day as "a national holiday for recreational abuses of drugs and alcohol.". That quote right there tells you of the author's world view.

I was especially annoyed about the author's discussion of how an "arts-based curriculum" in schools helps students. What about those of us who are not musically or artistically inclined? These over generalizations about what is good for all students are uncalled for.

There was also this gem "... all people are meant to express themselves musically." These generalizations are rather destructive. If one is simply non-musical it is supposedly a bad thing according to the author. I gather you're a lesser person if you can't play an instrument or sing.

There were repeated misspellings of Vietnam to Viet Nam in one chapter. The sheer number of the misspellings made them appear to be deliberate, but to what end I have no idea.

This one gets six stars. It didn't do much for me. I didn't feel the creativity connection aspect of the book. It is very dense reading with numerous physics related quotes and discussions, but the font size makes it tolerable. There are also 212 footnotes in the book. Count them - 212! No, really. All these footnotes made the book read more like an academic journal. Overall, the book did include some valuable information, but it was simply not engaging for me.

Rating: ★★★★★


Anonymous said...

Too bad it didn't do too much for you. I love books like this on audio...sort of like getting a pep talk.

Tif said...

I just reviewed this book and had some similar feelings to you! I think that there was brilliance in there, but sometimes it was hard to pull it out from the soap boxes and technical jargon. I wanted to love it (afterall, it references one of my favorites in the genre . . . Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning), but I just ended up thinking it was okay.

BTW, I added a link to your review on mine! Hope you don't mind!!

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