Tag: psychology (page 1 of 3)

The true believer from then, is the same one as now

What makes a fanatic, a fanatic? And why do mass movements have so much power? Important questions, and The true believer explains all while also giving an insight into the human mind.

The appeal and mindset of mass movements has not changed in the last 500 years.

That might sound strange as the world has changed drastically in the last centuries, but after you finish The true believer you’ll realise that human psychology has changed very little. This book puts the start of Christianity, the French Revolution, and Soviet Russia in one line and it is completely and utterly correct. The base of these three movements, and so many others, is completely similar!

Modern times
Hoffer wrote The true believer during the peak of Stalin’s regime, in the ’50’s. And yet his work can be adapted to modern times quite easily. For those who do not understand why extreme-right seems to be on the rise in Europe or why people would ever join IS, this work is compulsory. The true believer dives deep into the human minds, and defines those who are most likely to join a mass movement. Therefore, it gives great insight to the people around us, and the way they think. By doing so, it can teach us how to prevent movements that threaten modern society, but also teach us how to inflict change in a world that has become stagnant on many subjects.

The true believer is a tough read, only 160 pages thick and it might take you a while to take everything in. It is confronting on who we are as humans, and comforting when you realize that everything can be explained and the tension can be defused. A must read for every student who’s trying to make sense of the world around him/her.

The true believer
A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises examining mass movements–from Christianity in its infancy to the national uprisings of modern times. His analysis of the psychology of mass movements is a brilliant and frightening study of the mind of the fanatic.

Eric Hoffer. The true believer / HarperCollins / 9780060505912 

Is Foe really about language? Or about human sanity?

The story about Robinson Crusoe is world famous, but what if someone were to tell it a little bit differently? Foe gives a whole different spin to the classic tale, and shows different sides of humanity while doing it.

When reading about Foe, most I could find was about the use of language and the meaning of language in the story. However, quite quickly I noticed that the elaborate language did not seem to fit Susan Barton. Then again, you hardly get to know the woman, or any of the characters at all. They talk a lot, you will be able to draw a map based on all the descriptions given, but when asked a question about Susan, or Crusoe, or even Friday there will not be one straight answer to be given. Coetzee really tried to rewrite Defoe’s tale, and with that attacked the language instead of the story.

Sanity
There is one other aspect Coetzee might have touched upon, that Defoe might have forgotten a little. While Defoe is made the antagonist of Coetzee’s Foe, there seems to be a twist in the story in which all sides and people are turned upside down. Halfway through Foe one is being led on, and strayed from the original story. Crusoe suddenly plays but a minor role, while Susan (and mostly Susan’s demons) are becoming the focus point. Because if one is always surrounded by a total silence, and one lacks normal daily interaction, how is one to stay sane?

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Accumulation is an accumulation that creates a man

I’ll admit, I had to look up the meaning of the word accumulation. As a person who learned English as her second language, it is not a word that is often used. But it is THE perfect title for Accumulation.

Tattoo’s draw the attention by creating new layers, that is the first message of Accumulation and it remains one of the message during the whole duration of the book. But it uses tattoos as a metaphor, about how most humans are unable to look past a first impression. How a very limited amount of people can look past that first, possibly a second, layer of a person. And how those layers, and the inability of your surroundings, can create a feeling of intense and utter loneliness. And loneliness can throw any confident human being in an angry, melancholic depression.

Accumulation is an accumulation of human emotions, the impact of decisions made in life, and of all human vanity. Mix those three with a dose of reality, a dash of fantasy, and a healthy dose of grunge. Add some sexist jokes, some stereotypes about douchebags thinking only about themselves, and some Native wisdom, and you’ve got yourself a quite entertaining 300 pages.

Self-published
There is something else I have to admit, besides the googling of the translation of accumulation to Dutch (it is still an odd word to me…), and that is that I’m not a particular fan of self-published books and that is for two distinctive reasons:
1. They are often not very good… I’m so sorry to many writers who pour their heart and soul into their work, but the fact that you got turned down by many publishers resulting in self-publishing often has a very, very good reason. Your book is just not good… Writing is, after all, an art.
And 2. Self-published books often don’t look good. Cover, size, paper used, weight. Self-published books often lack the aesthetics of books designed and printed by professional publishing houses. I’ll go as far as to say that many have the same vibe and looks as many of my university textbooks, which is not a compliment, and therefore they don’t attract customers.

With Accumulation, that’s a bit different. The book looks exactly like a book printed by a publisher. The rubber-like cover is very much in fashion at the moment, and it suits the small paperback work of literature. The book manages to draw attention with its white, simplistic cover, and its single-word title. I would not know this was self-published had I not known about it beforehand. Which is a huge compliment, coming from someone working in a bookstore.

Accumulation
The jackpot Cam hit in Vegas finally gave him the chance to party like a rock star. He never wanted to forget the weekend he barely remembers, so he got himself a permanent souvenir: his first tattoo. Now more tattoos are beginning to appear and Cam has no idea why. Mornings in the SoCal apartment he shares with his best bud are all starting off the same way: Cam wakes up and discovers a new ink breakout somewhere on his body. Sometimes it’s undecipherable writing. Other times it’s a strange symbol. Every time it’s a blemish even his most expensive exfoliant can’t scrub away. All attempts at finding out who or what is vandalizing his once-immaculate appearance are coming up empty, and the ever-multiplying tattoos aren’t just destroying his looks; they’re destroying his whole life. Forced to embrace his altered self, Cam starts over in the place he least expected. There his life begins to follow a familiar and comfortable pattern and gives him hope of a new normal. What Cam doesn’t realize is that his transformation is far from complete.

Buan Boonaca. Accumulation / Buan Boonaca / 9789082685916

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