Are American minds drowning in the sludgy by-product of society’s manipulative culture?
Gebelein (Re-Educating Myself, 1985), a Harvard-educated computer programmer, worries that our minds are at the constant mercy of polluting elements like â€œthe constant chatter of cultural ideas,” influential judgments and persuasive hypnotic suggestion. â€œSocial manipulations” and the tribe mentality play a great part in the societal structures of behavior, Gebelein opines, and it is up to the last remaining free-thinkers to set themselves apart and to lead others away from destructive behavioral patterning. The author rehashes many of the themes explored in his previous book, in which he utilized psychotherapy, cultural withdrawal and dream analysis to downshift himself from the harmful cultural ideas infused by the turbulent era of the 1950s and ’60s. Gebelein dissects three of the most â€œfundamental belief systems” known today (religious, academic and New Age), scrupulously examining their origins, their worth and their blatant inaccuracies. The author goes on to describe, in great detail, the ways in which the human mind may be poisoned (i.e., polluted) by specific sets of circumstances or stimuli. In one of the more entertaining sections, Gebelein incorporates verbatim dialogue extracted from Internet discussion groups to support his thought processes as he endlessly defends his opinions against a tide of derogatory online detractors. These verbal volleys would make great entertainment all on their own. Gebelein’s strengths lie within the sections where he makes simple sense rather than drumming up conspiracy theory about subliminal manipulation, social coercion, mental warfare, spirituality and sorcery. He smartly argues that government officials are more effective when focused on serving the public rather than exerting dominance over it and that religion fills our â€œsocial need” for authoritarian figures. He challenges the validity of television news, calls out the â€œbad logic” of the insurance industry, amusingly dismisses laws on the use of seatbelts and concludes that mind pollution is ultimately caused by the social pressures exerted by those closest to us rather than the â€œobvious lies and manipulations of politics and advertising.” His book unveils itself as a challenge to readers to unclog their minds and become open to the truths lying just beneath the propaganda.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)