Saturday, September 21, 2013

Quiet perks

Over the past few days, I've been reading further chapters of 'Quiet', by Susan Cain. I recognise in the book so many episodes which have occurred in my personal life or at work; maybe I'll even learn how to deal with them in a better manner than I have until now. I haven't noticed that Cain has mentioned 'social intelligence' yet; I suppose that there are introverts with high levels of SI just as there are those with low levels. In my teens, I used to think that I had a reasonable level of SI, but that seems to have evaporated over the years. 

Presumably, reading this book has made me more aware of introspective behaviour. Meeting my daughter's fiance's parents was a very good example, but I don't want to write about that. Instead I'll take a short cut into serendipity: I read about 'Quiet' in some article published in a Harvard Business Review blog. I found this site the other day and read several articles, which I very much enjoyed. Unfortunately, I found most of them too short; I would have preferred more length and depth. 

Another article mentioned a book called 'Up in the air' by Walter Kirn and to my surprise, I discovered that the film of the book was to be shown on television the following day. So I set up the equipment to record the film and watched it a bit later. The character played by George Clooney was certainly not an introvert - all through the film (except the end), he wore a confident (and slightly silly) smile. It makes me wonder how much he empathised with the people whose jobs he terminated. The character played by Anna Kendrick was more introspective and introverted; ironically, this character was added for the film and does not exist in the book. Reading a precis, it seems that the book is more sardonic and bitter than the film (as is normally the case), and I'm not too sure that I would enjoy reading it. 

Yesterday evening we saw on television a film called 'The perks of being a wallflower', which is very much about an introvert, Charlie. His behaviour at parties seemed extremely familiar to me; once again I was thankful that I am British and went to a direct grant grammar school where nerds were plentiful (the word 'nerd' had yet to be invented but basically it was a school for nerds). What can I say? This was exactly the film to be watched after reading 'Quiet', and was the sort of material in which I wallowed during my teens.

After the film finished, I went to check it on the internet and found it had been based on a book. After a few more minutes reading about the film, something suddenly clicked in my brain: I looked at the bookshelf behind my computer chair and discovered a paperback copy of 'The perks of being a wallflower'! I have no recollection of reading this book, but I somehow remember that I bought it when we were on holiday in Prague exactly two years ago. I remember reading another teen novel ('Thirteen reasons why') on the day which I spent in the Prague laundromat - but not 'Perks'. Rereading that blog entry, I see that I mentioned the laundromat and 'Thirteen reasons why', but not 'Perks'. I shall read the book again.

Another coincidence: one of the first chapters of 'Quiet' is about a motivational speaker called Tony Robbins. Maybe this name would be familiar to me if I were living in America, but the material in 'Quiet' introduced this man to me. As some stage in 'Up in the air', George Clooney drops Robbins' name and I was able to say to myself - aha! Had it not been for 'Quiet', I wouldn't have known who Clooney was talking about.

As Richard Thompson prophetically wrote in his late teens, it all comes round again.

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