Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Art of Listening

The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve RelationshipsThe Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships by Michael P. Nichols
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I only give this book three stars (I liked it) but would still say everyone should seriously consider reading it.

Reasons to read it:
1) It made me think hard about a huge part of my relationships, particularly family.
2) It contains a lot of wisdom about listening.

Reasons not to read it (and why I didn't REALLY like it):
1) Like a lot of psychology books, it could have been condensed to maybe half the length by cutting out generalized and extraneous case studies/examples. It is also very repetitive, again often the case for books on psychology.
2) It gets a few things dead wrong, because it approaches human nature and relationships from a general, contemporary Western, ultimately non-Christian viewpoint.

Great quotation (last line of the book): "Listening isn't a need we have; it's a gift we give."

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Eminently Usable Quote

In spite of the fact that some quotations are just too contextual to be used as brief texts of wisdom, many quotes remain, of course, highly usable. Such is this one from the book The Lost Art of Listening:
When you demonstrate a willingness to listen with a minimum of defensiveness, criticism, or impatience, you are giving the gift of understanding -- and earning the right to have it reciprocated.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Un homme de son temps

De l'édition parisienne du journal 20Minutes (jeudi 21 février 2013):

Parlant de l'intervention au Mali et la famille française kidnapée au Caméroun, Laurent Fabius, ministre des Affaires étrangères, se révèle tout à fait formé par son époque et toutes ses contradictions: "Leurs buts et leurs méthodes sont contraires aux droits humains élémentaires. Nous devons les combattre. Cela n'a rien à voir avec des questions de religion ou de civilisation."

Les droits humains n'ont rien à voir avec les questions de civilisation, voire de religion ? Ils viennent d'où exactement alors ?

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I hear a lot about globalization and its phenomena, but I read something a couple of weeks ago about deglobalization. In the French newspaper 20Minutes (free in the Paris metro), the the Arnaud Montebourg, the French Minister of Industrial Renewal, defended the "deglobalization of personal data."

The interview with Montebourg was about guidelines his ministry wants to put in place and promote at the national and EU levels of governance for Facebook and Google. According to him, the two Internet giants basically do whatever they want because they have no regulations. He defended the idea of personal data belonging to the individuals who use Facebook and Google.

When asked, "N'est-il pas normal que Facebook et Google puissent exploiter ces données? Ils ont inventé ce business" (Isn't it normal for Facebook and Google to exploit these data? They invented this business.), Montebourg replied, "On ne les empêchera pas de les exploiter. On va 'juste' leur demander d'investir et de payer des impôts en France. C'est la démondialisation des données personnelles" (We're not going to keep them from exploiting the data. We're "only" going to ask them to invest in and pay taxes in France. It's the deglobalization of personal data).

I'm not sure what I think about Montebourg's politico-economic position, though my gut feeling is that it sounds nice. When he talks of "souveraineté économique et numérique des Européens" (Europeans' economic and digital sovereignty), I am definitely reminded that I'm in Europe and not the U.S. But what interested me most was his use of the term deglobalization. It's natural, of course, to have to talk of that now, since we have so globalized the world through language, politics, entertainment, and industry, that particularities are bound to come surging back, which is the process of deglobalization.

Monday, March 11, 2013

An Impossible-to-Use Quotation

If there is a proper response, a truly wise response, to the narrative of this book, it surely begins with the recognition that if everyone is bad to the bone -- if all of us strut and fret our hour upon the stage, filled with the consciousness of our injured merit, fairly glowing with self-praise -- then our condition is, first and above all else, comical.
This is the last sentence of the last chapter of Alan Jacobs' book Original Sin. It is what I would call an (almost) impossible-to-use quotation, at least as I like to use short quotations (without their context and as little nuggets of wisdom).

You have to read almost the whole book, and definitely the last chapter, to appreciate the quotation. Jacobs is using the last word, "comical," in a technical sense related to theater and poetry. His evaluation of humanity's depraved condition, of the sin we all inherit and participate in, is profound. What else can I say? Read the whole book!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

On Impossible-to-Use Quotations

I am not sure whether it is profound or superficial to like pithy, sum-up-all-of-life-in-a-sentence-or-two quotations, but I like them. Sometimes I come across quotations so good that they almost take my breath away just like an awesome vista of nature; if they don't literally do that, they do stop me in my tracks and force me to meditate and re-read and marvel at them. Unfortunately, however, some of these quotations are very difficult to share because of their context. Without quoting almost a page or two, some of these quotations would not be understandable. Do you ever have that experience? I have one like that that I want to share in the next day or two. It's SO good, that I just have to share, even it means giving more context.