Tag: psychology (page 1 of 3)

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.

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.

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.

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

The 9 to 5 mentality

It was a while ago, but when I worked in offices during internships I was introduced to work hours that were normal for most people. What is this ‘9 to 5 mentality’ and where does it come from?

Working 9 to 5, the times ware so common that there was a song made about them but although the lyrics are really catchy, it does not mean that working 9 to 5 is common to everyone. As I myself work in the film industry at the moment, I often have nightshoots and work often for 12 hours or more a day. Archaeologists often start even earlier, so they can finish before the afternoon heat strikes. So how come 9 to 5 is considered ‘normal’?

The whole nine-to-five-concept dates back from when 9 to 5 were normal officehours. People worked in offices, day in day out and therefore they worked from 9 to 5. When someone is unwilling to work more than the minimal amount of hours, or unwilling to put in a little extra effort one talks of the nine-to-five-mentality. While this sounds great, having the whole night to yourself, the increasing demand on offices and mostly employees means that this mentality is slowly dying as the economy is slowly changing into a 24-hour-economy, as people demand access to everything at all hours. I myself am mostly just really happy I can reach a helpdesk, or the tax offices in the evening when I’m finally at home and able to do some work that involves my personal life. That does include shopping by the way…

24 hours in a day
The 24-hour-economy, a burden or a blessing? The answer mostly depends on who you ask the question. While the concept might seem new to some, it is very common in other industries. Train- and roadworkers have been working at night (to lessen the burden on traffic) for a while, as well as night shifts in hospitals, police stations, and other professions that require round the clock attention. But what about those jobs that have never required it before? Should shopsbe open 24 hours a day? Should a production office, that focuses mainly on making television series?  I can tell you, it is no fun to do night-shoots all the time.

So why do people assume that the whole nine-to-five-concept will end? Let’s start with the actual office hours. As the normal office worker works till 5, and still has to do groceries afterwards it is now common for stores to be open till at least 6 or even later. Staying open until 20.00 is not uncommon in Amsterdam, and as big supermarkets want to get more and more customers they even stay open until 22.00! The end of the ‘open till 5’-era can be traced back to this mentality: I have to work until a certain time and afterwards I want to be able to do everything. So other stores have to stay open as well. I must admit that I am part of this thinking. It is nice to go to the movies after work, or grab a bite to eat, or even being able to buy some books in a store or online with the knowledge that I will be home when they arrive. The end of an era is mostly because we demand more luxury, more possibilities, and still claim that because we are paying customers the stores have to listen to our demands.

But what about that other part of the nine-to-five-concept: the nine-to-five-mentality. Why do specialist assume that this will end as well? While the demands might be traceble to some form of egoistic thinking, the mentality is mostly linked to psychological reasons.

Problem 1 would be our ability to concentrate. You might have noticed yourself, but working for several hours has never done any good. I myself collapse after three hours in, and do need a break before my brain fries. On an average note, only 3 or 4 hours a day are spent productively. The rest will be coffee/smoke-breaks, checking social media, chatting with colleagues, and browsing through mail and online. This of course applies for officework, not physical jobs that already often work in 4 hour shifts. As much as the body needs a break so does the mind, and while those 4 hours might be very productive there is the problem of the work schedule versus the type of person you are. Night owls (people who work better during the evening than in the morning) have a hard time coping with 9 to 5 work hours. Working from home, the newest arrangement, works well for night owls who get to sleep in/start slowly and work until late without security kicking you out. Unfortunately, there are many bosses who claim that your morning-issues are just excuses to be tardy and unproductive.

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn via ChairsHunt / CC BY

Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn via ChairsHunt / CC BY

Evening person
Everybody has a build-in clock. It is the annoying thing that makes you sleepy, even though it is the middle of the day, and what keeps you up at night. However, everyone’s biological clock is different, and everyone reacts to theirs differently. Because of that it is difficult to create a daily pattern that would fit everybody, as this creates ‘Evening people’ and ‘Morning people’. The differences between night owls and larks can be easily seen in daily live, as night owls tend to start work late but work way past the point where the lark would like to collapse. When working in a normal environment this unfortunately creates an issue, as daily society is completely build around the lark. However, considering the earlier mentioned 24 hour society, it might bewise to use the night owl’s abilities to stay up productively till late. I am typin this article at 23.00 o’clock, and am working way better now than I was at 11.00 o’clock. I’m not much of a morning person/a lark, and I now this. That is why I can do a lot of things after work, but I need at least two hours to get my brain starting. Try explaining that to your boss every morning….

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