An insightful memoir from an eminent psychologist.

A SYNTHESIZING MIND

A MEMOIR FROM THE CREATOR OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES THEORY

The latest view of intelligence combined with a compelling autobiography.

Gardner, professor of cognition and education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, has made groundbreaking contributions to cognitive psychology, and this lively memoir includes an extensive yet accessible introduction to his work. The son of refugees from Nazi Germany, he was a bright, curious child with enough musical talent to teach piano. Breezing through Harvard, he sampled the humanities, but psychoanalyst Erik Erikson piqued his interest in the study of human intellectual development. After these early life details, the author delivers a lucid account of the life of a successful academic: thinking, investigating, teaching, and arguing about unanswered questions and then communicating his ideas in hundreds of blog posts, articles, and several dozen books, many for a popular audience. Dismissing the controversy over whether psychology is a “hard” science, Gardner explains that he avoids laboratory experiments, preferring to examine existing ideas to see where they lead. Possessing a “synthesizing mind,” he prefers to “take in a lot of information, reflect on it, and then organize it in a way that is useful.” Although not shy about describing other contributions, his fame rests on theories of how humans process information. Unhappy with the standard measure, the IQ test, which stresses language and logic, Gardner absorbed the massive literature on cognitive psychology and concluded that humans possess seven distinct techniques for acquiring knowledge, which he called “intelligences.” Besides the two IQ standards, he added musical, spatial (navigation, chess playing), kinesthetic (athletics, dancing), interpersonal (leadership, salesmanship), and intrapersonal (self-knowledge, wisdom), which he introduced in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind. He later added several more. Gardner admits that he “would not have achieved a certain degree of notoriety if I had chosen some other noun: seven capacities; or seven competences; or seven kinds of minds” or talents, gifts, or learning styles. “Intelligence” caught everyone’s attention.

An insightful memoir from an eminent psychologist.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-262-04426-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more