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Success Cybernetics Paperback – October, 1986
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For those of you who've read Andersen's other books you will find `Success Cybernetics' to be a very different offering indeed. The theme `we are all emanations of an infinite being trying to understand itself' in `Three Magic Words', for example, is replaced by `... get a better effect by punching the boss or wife ... and you wind up with a new boss and a more docile wife'. There is no mention here of the `universal subconscious', so heavily featured in other works, replaced instead by a more earthbound and mechanistic view of human behaviour and motivation.
A theme of control through violence and domination is seeded throughout the book, particularly in relation to women. However, I don't believe Andersen is especially anti-women, but rather there is a sense of his trying to assert traditional male roles in an increasingly liberal 1960's America. The film `Fight Club' echoes a lot of the themes in this book; particularly around the idea of a generation of men feeling disempowered through having to be seen to always `do the right thing'.
The writing is pithy and engaging, and is certainly refreshing, although in parts the stories are a little disjointed. The biggest surprise for me however was the nature of the change in the author's style from previous works. It made me question if I was seeing the real Andersen here and whether his previous works had been genuine. It raised the possibility (for me at least!) that his other books had been written for those who `can't tell the difference between symbols and signals', and to cash in on the growing interest in all things `new age' in 1960's America. There are hints of this throughout, although you'll have to decide that for yourself, and I'll leave you with the `five magic words' in the final chapter - `It is in your hands'.
I wish I had met the author, I am sure he was a great one to work with directly, given the quality of his written work. Buy it, and enjoy.
Cybernetics is the science of feedback loops. Try something-then evaluate the results-then make adjustments-then try again. Anderson encourages using this idea for your life. If an action isn't producing the desired results, try something else. Eventually, you will get on the right track, everything will become automatic, and the success loop will re-enforce itself. He promotes this simple idea through many motivating and colorful stories.
While some readers may find his style coarse, I found it was exactly the kick in the pants that I needed. Something I had been procrastinating over/avoiding for over two years I finally got done thanks to Anderson's writing. I believe that is the highest form of praise for any motivational book.