“Required Reading”

 

The summer before I went off to college, a letter came asking that I read Arthur Koestler’s recent book The Act of Creation. A long book, essentially a philosophical discourse on the root of creativity,  totally confused me. Today, looking over a description of the text, I can see why. I had no experience reading philosophy, had almost no background in abstract thinking, didn’t think of myself as a particularly creative person, and was used to sentences I could absorb with one reading. Koestler’s book and I could not find a place to connect. I went off the college concerned about what would be asked of me regarding the book.

The book was never mentioned again. To this day I have no idea what purpose was to have been served by having the entire incoming class read the volume. I know that the effect it had on me was one of total intimidation. If I couldn’t understand the first book they were asking me to read, how would I ever succeed at the University? I hope that was not the intention.

At any rate, no book during the subsequent four years of college ever confounded me the way Koestler’s book did. Thank goodness.

31 thoughts on ““Required Reading”

  1. I am completely confounded just by reading the bit shown here. I doubt I could get through one chapter of that book. It reads like a lot of pretentious nonsense to me, to be perfectly honest. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. I’ve tried to read, possibly have even read a number of things by Arthur Koestler and I can’t remember much of it at all. A bit like Bill Bryson might be if he wanted you to think how clever he is.

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  3. You were so game to read this book at 18! A mindblowing command, and why, why? Still for various reasons that’s a fascinating excerpt and I now think perhaps I have never read Arthur Koestler. (At this stage, life’s too short.) What a double-jointed brain to play such tricks. I can’t go down the rabbit hole with him, but if he deleted the diagram and a few words like “bisociation” I might play the game for a few lines. But as a plain language advocate, I yearn for words of two syllables.

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  4. The book definitely needs an Instructional Designer like me. I would just delete 90% of it because it is unnecessary, 5% because it is repetitive, 3% because it is specialised infirmation on need to know basis only, and give out another 1% as a handout to be used as reference when needed (because nobody can remember it anyway), which might be never. The remaining 1%, I’ll rewrite in an 8th grader English in active voice only. TaaaDaaaa! Would you like it then?

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