Counterculture – As You Were

As You Were – looking for connections between the work of Brené Brown and Daniel Quinn as I revisit them in book clubs. See the introductory post for what this is all about. In this post, I look at:

  • Daniel Quinn Book Club — Ishmael, week 2: chapters 2 & 3
  • Brené Brown Book Club — The Gifts of Imperfection, finishing week 1-2 reading: Preface – Courage, Compassion, and Connection: The Gifts of Imperfection


Chapter 2

“If you take this educational journey with me, you’re going to find yourself alienated from the people around you — friends, family, past associates, and so on.” The same is said about personal growth and spirituality. Brené tells us to brave the wilderness.

“A story is a scenario interrelating man, the world, and the gods… It’s about the meaning of the world, about divine intentions in the world, and about human destiny.” And we’re going to see that there’s more than one possible story. Echoes Brené’s “the story I’m telling myself is…”

“They’ve been told an explaining story… it pacifies them. They put their shoulders to the wheel during the day, stupefy themselves with drugs or television at night, and try not to think too searchingly about the world they’re leaving their children to cope with.” Brené on numbing, on not being able to feel the good unless we’re also willing to feel the bad. And there certainly is an ocean of bad to feel about enacting a story that’s destroying the world. No wonder we tell ourselves a story that pacifies us.

Chapter 3

“The pinnacle was reached in man.” The most extreme possible example of Brené’s “puffing up” of oneself.

“The Takers regard the world as a sort of human life-support system, as a machine designed to produce and sustain human life… That’s the premise of your story: The world was made for man.” Brené doesn’t talk much about narcissism, but this certainly finds its parallel on the individual level in narcissism, sociopathy, etc. Some people believe others are just objects to serve them.

The Gifts of Imperfection

Courage, Compassion, and Connection: The Gifts of Imperfection

“Shame loves secrecy.” Connect to Quinn saying there is no such thing as secret knowledge, only knowledge that is difficult to share, because people don’t want to hear it.

“Boundaries and compassion… When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or choice.” Brené discusses how not only is it not contradictory that compassion needs boundaries but that compassion is actually not possible without boundaries. And here we are in political/economic/social structures which contain inordinately more people than the tribes we evolved with. No wonder we have a hard time connecting. Our whole society is set up to have terrible boundaries. Feeling used, mistreatment, othering, attacking people based on identity, these things are endemic to social structure that are grotesquely beyond human scale.

“The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It’s a path of consciousness and choice. And, to be honest, it’s a little counterculture.” Quinn’s work is self-described cultural criticism, literally counterculture.

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