- Daniel Quinn Book Club — If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways, session 3 reading: Saturday: Afternoon through Sunday: Afternoon
- Brené Brown Book Club — Rising Strong, session 1 reading: Beginning through Two: Civilization Stops at the Waterline
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“Daniel. In other words, my books don’t contain lists of do’s and don’ts. My books are about changing minds.” Compare Brené saying her work does not provide simply how-to answers.
“Daniel. A lot of people find this hard to stomach. They put it this way: ‘I know things are screwed up, but changing minds just isn’t enough.’…
“Elaine. I’d say they want to see some action. Changing minds doesn’t seem like action to them.”
“Daniel. Despite its long history of failure, this belief in the effectiveness of action runs deep in our culture… Here’s another way to look at this. Action proceeds automatically from vision. I mean that if a certain vision is in place, you don’t have to ‘take action’ to realize it.” Compare Brené on the primacy of culture over strategy.
“Daniel. And now what do you think of the apparently odd fact that downward neural paths outnumber upward paths ten to one?
“Elaine. [after some thought] I think it means that humans are hardwired for culture.”
“Daniel. Yes, I think so, too.” Compare Brené on humans being hardwired for connection and for story.
A Note on Research and Storytelling as Methodology
“As doctoral students, we were often forced to take sides. Our research professors trained us to choose evidence over experience, reason over faith, science over art, and data over story. Ironically, at the same time, our non-research professors were teaching us that social work scholars should be wary of false dichotomies — those “either you’re this or you’re that” formulations. In fact, we learned that when faced with either-or dilemmas, the first question we should ask is, Who benefits by forcing people to choose?” Compare Quinn’s dichotomy-busting thinking and his focusing on who benefits within hierarchies.
“‘Both the scientific and artistic methods provide us with ways of knowing. And, in fact, as Clifford Geertz… has pointed out, innovative thinkers in many fields are blurring the genres, finding art in science and science in art an social theory in all human creation and activity.” Compare Quinn’s upholding of “scientia” in The Story of B and, more broadly, his work in which fiction is put into the service of fact.
Truth and Dare: An Introduction
“I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.” Compare Quinn’s revelation that Taker culture as a whole has a fundamental belief that humans are flawed — no wonder wholeheartedness goes against the grain of our culture.
“Daring is essential to solve the problems in the world that feel intractable: poverty, violence, inequality, trampled civil rights, and a struggling environment, to name a few.” When these problems are caused by the structure of our culture as Quinn points out, daring is definitely needed to face the possibility of change.
One: The Physics of Vulnerability
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” Compare Quinn on “living in the hands of the gods.”
“We’re wired for story… it’s in our biology… Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has found that hearing a story — a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end — causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.” Compare Quinn in The Story of B talking about the rise of storytelling being part of the very evolution of the human species.
“You can’t engineer an emotional, vulnerable, and courageous process into an easy, one-size-fits-all formula. In fact, I think attempting to sell people an easy fix for pain is the worst kind snake oil.” Compare Quinn not providing simple answers.
“I crafted this definition of spirituality based on the data I’ve collected over the past decade: Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to one another by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and belonging. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” Compare Quinn on all living things being connected in one community, on the fire of life, on people gaining belonging from a social organization that came about by participating in the evolution of that community.
Two: Civilization Stops at the Waterline
“… as much as we’d love to blame distant or cruel fathers, bullying buddies, and overbearing coaches for the lion’s share of shame that men feel, women can be the most fearful about letting men off the white horse and the most likely to be critical of their vulnerability.” Ties closely to Taker culture wanting to be invincible.
“… as novelist Paul Coelho talks about in his book The Alchemist, when you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.” Compare to Quinn on providence.
“Hunter S. Thompson wrote, ‘Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.'” Echoes Quinn noting that only civilized culture believes itself to being disconnected from nature and at the top of a food chain when it’s actually neither.