A cogent plea to neither reject nor embrace technology but to try instead to look beyond it.

THE SPIRITUALITY OF AWE

CHALLENGES TO THE ROBOTIC REVOLUTION

A psychologist weighs in on the spiritual potential of computers and social media.

Schneider (Supervision Essentials for Existential-Humanistic Therapy, 2016, etc.) uses his expertise as an existential-humanist psychologist to explore the ever growing worry that technology is fracturing people’s attention—and their psyches. He’s specifically concerned, as many other writers are, that an empirical, computational style of thought has metastasized into other areas of our lives. He initially promises to chart a middle road between rabid technophobia and zealous technocracy. For example, he points out that the tendency to prefer quantifiable information, because it’s easily processed by machines, results in scientific research that prioritizes topics that are similarly quantifiable. This, in turn, encourages a reductive understanding of how our own minds work, he says, as we develop a habit of metaphorically comparing ourselves to machines. Schneider urges readers to develop and maintain a sense of awe about the possibilities of the modern world. To that end, he moves from reflection to speculation as he hypothesizes what an “awe-based” computing society would look like. And, on a smaller scale, he effectively draws upon his own experience with cervical dystonia—a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary neck spasms—to show how avoiding ruthless efficiency in all things can open one’s eyes to new forms of understanding. These personal examples do much to humanize his argument—and to explain why he’s so skeptical of the promises of technology. He authentically presents what he sees as a psychic dilemma, but readers may find that his prescribed solution—to preserve one’s sense of awe—can feel anodyne at times. Ultimately, though, his sketches of various psychological methods to combat the metaphorical mechanization of the self offer readers solid and encouraging alternatives.

A cogent plea to neither reject nor embrace technology but to try instead to look beyond it.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945949-69-2

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Waterfront Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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