On the Night Stand

Some thoughts on the books I am currently reading


San Miguel by T.C. Boyle:

About two thirds of the way through the new historical fiction from Boyle, my interest has waned slightly. This is not to say by any means that I am disheartened by the book. In fact, the opposite is true. He truly breathes great life into a theme that might normally inspire only apathy or depression: the psychological effect of isolation on social beings. In this book Boyle has returned to the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara CA., the site of his most recent of what I like to call his "sociopolitical novels", When the Killing's Done. I plan on writing a full review of San Miguel so I'll leave any further commentary till later.

Thinking Fast and Slow (audiobook) written by Daniel Kahneman, narrated by Patrick Egan:

I just got started on this one and already Kahneman's revelations, whether deceptively obvious or not, regarding how humans process sensory information are captivating. He talks  about the two systems of thinking: System one, which is impulsive and relies on prior knowledge, expertise, bias, and sensory cues, is the fast thinking system; AKA lazy mind. System two, which is more attuned to detail, more considerate, rational, less attuned to multitasking, is the slow thinking system. The author explains the differences between the two. Apparently when using system two, one's pupils dilate, then return to normal in system one. In this way a clinician may be able to track thought processes while performing simple or difficult tasks. He reveals how the fast thinking or lazy mind can be influenced by sensory cues in a number of different ways. It seems to me the research that has been done in this area of cognitive psychology could be very useful in advertising, politics, mind control, and is probably in use as you read this. One interesting tidbit that struck home as I listened to this book was that college professors, editors, publishing professionals are more likely to favor a more straightforward form of writing, less sesquipedalian (oops), I mean less pretense of language, shorter words, noting that showy writing is amatuerish. In other words if someone is writing on a subject from 'system one' or the fast mind, they are more than likely an expert on the subject. It makes sense to me. Now excuse me while I edit everything I've ever written for more simplicity