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How to Become an Intellectual: 100 Mandatory Maxims to Metamorphose into the Most Learned of Thinkers Kindle Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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That would be appropriate if this wasn't a terrific book, but it is. It evolves from an opening half that is a combination of satire, cynicism, and astute observations, to a second half that is a primer on appropriate etiquette for whatever generation is now being processed and the knowledge to be learned for a fulfilling life.
Let's start with one sentence, page 13, "The urge to learn and become a true autodidact are what constitute the basis of an intellectual mind." After double checking that my understanding of the word "autodidact" was correct, this set the tone for the book.
It is easy to take this book personally based on one's own experience and mythology. At the beginning, Maxim 1, is "Carry an Intellectual Book(at all times)". That immediately brought to mind the oft told story of the young fellow but a few years older Georgetown grad Bill Clinton at Oxford carrying around a paperback of Blake poems in his back pocket - always the poseur I guess as well as, perhaps, the intellectual. Whenever heading into NYC on the LIRR, I carry my shoulder bag with books, magazines, and writing pad, books intellectual and not so much, like now by Duane Swierczynski and Colum McCann - odd combination obviously.
Maxim 1 is investigated here just as an example of the thoughts that emerge as one goes through Nick's maxims. There is Maxim 19 about disliking an author in which, in a related way, the writer uses as an example someone pounding on a bar and saying "Ken Kesey's 'Sometimes a Great Notion' is a far finer piece of writing than his 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I then say to myself that "Something Happened" by Joseph Heller is far more nuanced and insightful than his painfully humorous and popular "Catch 22".
That's what this book does to me. It says something and I respond. Not exactly some jazz call and response pattern, but maybe related.
In various instances, many instances, "How to Become an Intellectual" refers to books, not really a coincidence. Here in Eyes Not Sold land there is an addiction to books, among other things. They are everywhere in our house, as others point out, although younger daughter seems to have a growing approach to the same behavior. Den shelves around the major fireplace are well ordered, but the living room, two of the bedrooms, the ping pong room, and the actual so-called library room(a room painted bright red with bookshelves and ancestor photos) are all packed with books in no particular order. I envy Geoff Dyer's description of his large and orderly collection of books on shelves that he built with his father. I feel more like a hoarder than anyone with the pretense of being an "intellectual". That's equivalent to a government warning about the skills exhibited in my various book and music reviews on Amazon, however sporadic.
This commentary could go on and on, but must get back to the book being commented on, of course. I enjoyed reading Nick Kolakowski's book that clearly comes from a talented writer, a well read and thoughtful person with a good heart and a fine tuned sense of humor. The last three Maxims - "Learn One New Thing from Everyone", "Analyze Ideas, Not People", and "Know When to Say Nothing" are to this commentator the author's foundation.
We can look forward to more to come?
I found this book to be interesting, informative and even humorous at times. This 240 page volume is organized into ten parts with a total of 100 maxims. Part one explains the intellectual lifestyle and gives tips such as “Carry an intellectual book at all times” and other maxims. Part two deals with the cultural aspects of being an intellectual. Part three covers your space and how to give the impression that you are intelligent. Part five focuses on technology and how it relates to becoming an intellectual. Part five gives ideas on how to look like an intellectual. Part six deals with the health and well-being factors. Part seven gives dating tips for the aspiring intellectual. Part eight explains how to engage the public. Part nine I found interesting because it covered some interesting tips on walking the walk of an intellectual. The final section covers the intellectual etiquette tips.
I actually enjoyed reading this book because it contains some very practical and effective tips for becoming more intellectually astute. I also have a few other maxims that should have been added. 101. Read and understand the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. 102. Read the works of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Payne. 103. Read the books “Atlas Shrugged” and “For the new Intellectual” by Ayn Rand. 104. Read “Economics in One” Lesson by Henry Hazlet. 105. Read “Socialism” by Ludwig Van Mises.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Never Trust a Politician: A critical review of politics and politicians)
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I carry it everywhere I go.Read more