Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey



If you do not want what I want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or if my beliefs are different from yours, at least pause before you set out to correct them. Or if my emotion seems less or more intense than yours, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel other than I do. Or if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, please let me be. I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will only come when you are willing to give up trying to change me into a copy of you. ~ David Keirsey

Have you ever heard people talk about their MBTI type or their four-letter combinations like ESTJ or INFP? And then wonder what these mean?

American Psychologist David Keirsey puts all those four-letter combinations into laymen’s terms, and gives some practical advice on how to put this knowledge to good use – particularly in terms of inter-personal relationships. Please Understand Me II begins with a test which will identify the MBTI type of the respondent. (By the way, you don’t need to read the earlier version, Please Understand Me – in fact, there is no reason why you should. Please Understand Me II is not a continuation, but an updated and expanded version.)

Keirsey’s work builds primarily on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as developed by Isabel Meyers and Katherine Briggs (daughter/mother), whose work in turn expanded on personality type theory developed by Carl Jung. I’m no expert on MBTI, but it is beyond theory, more accurately described as science, and probably the most widely accepted “science” of describing and categorizing personality types.

According to MBTI we all fall into one of sixteen personality types – which are represented by the four-letter combinations of: Extrovert or Introvert (I or E), iNtuitive or Sensing (N or S), Feeling or Thinking (F or T), and Judging or Perceiving (J or P).

Keirsey sort of steps back from the 16 types though, and groups them into four broader types or temperaments that he labels: Artisans or SPs (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP), Guardians or SJs (ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ), Idealists or NFs (ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP), and Rationals or NTs (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP). (Note: Four temperaments have been posited by numerous scholars over the centuries, starting with Hippocrates’ personality types of: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.)

But I’m getting more technical than I intended. 

If you really want to study MBTI, there are books that go into each of the 16 types in great detail (there are probably entire books devoted to each one). 

The value of Keirsey’s research is helping us to understand ourselves first, and then others, and most importantly, to understand that it is neither practical nor desirable to try to change others into versions of ourselves. 

That’s a gross oversimplification. I highly recommend the book. It offers insight in how each of the four temperaments best interacts with a spouse of each type, with children of each type, and in leadership roles, as well as the pitfalls in these relationships – such as the Pygmalion project or trying to turn these others into versions of ourselves. It just doesn’t work. There’s good news here too. There are no doomed pairings. Any type, can mate with, parent, or work with any other type. There are some pairings that are quite common and/or optimum, but none that have no chance. 

So let me wrap it up with something a little more fun. As I said, I’m INTP, which also means I am a Rational. Some excerpts from Please Understand me II about INTPs or Rationals that should – if you are a careful reader of this blog – sound exactly like the Once Lost Wanderer.

Rationals are usually exacting about definitions. Ever read me rant about quotation vs quote, about blogoversary, about personal canon? 

[Rationals] …enjoy playing with words, finding pleasure in puns and paradoxes.

NTs tending to qualify their statements with modifiers such as ‘likely’, ‘probably’, ‘usually’, ‘occasionally’, and ‘in some degree’.

[Rationals] not socially or politically correct

They’re problem solvers, one and all.

…eager to provide information…but not at all eager to tell others what to do.

Rationals regard social custom neither respectfully nor sentimentally, but, again, pragmatically

Rationals are easily the most self-critical of all the temperaments…

INTPs will retreat into the world of books and emerge only when physical needs become imperative.

Rationals generally have a well-developed sense of humor, although the amusing and humorous is usually subtle and, more often than not, based on a play on words. NTs especially enjoy humor which is ironical, or which contains an unexpected double meaning.

You get the idea. It’s a very informative and accessible book. I recommend it to anyone who has to interact with other humans.

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Septus Textum Scriptus Annusversarius (7thAnniversary of the Blog)

Septus Textum Scriptus Annusversarius


You may know it as a blogoversary, but – as I asserted last year – blogoversary is incorrect.

This blog was originally about my quest to read the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. As I was nearing the completion of my quest, I briefly toyed with the idea of pacing myself to finish on the anniversary – but no – I just pressed on and finished June 30, 2018. 

But since those milestones didn’t coincide, I thought perhaps I could mark the Septus Textum Scriptus Annusversarius with my 100,000thpage view, but I missed that by about a thousand views.

So, while I was missing all these chances, I just went ahead and missed the actual date of the anniversary as well, which was August 16. Sorry, I was very busy. 

Better late than never, and without further ado, Happy Septus Textum Scriptus Annusversarius to the Once Lost Wanderer. Gift ideas: copper or wool are traditional gifts. I'm not that keen on wool. Pennies are copper, so if perhaps everyone who reads this sends me all the pennies they have in their possession (or other copper currency of their homeland), that would be appropriate. 

But you know...whatevs.


Live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (novel #108)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote


Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart. ~ Holly Golightly

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the story of a simple country girl, turned New York café socialite and climber, early 1940s – with one of the best names in literature – Holly Golightly (born, Lulamae Barnes). When the narrator first reflects on his memories of Holly, I didn’t care for her. She was vain, fickle, materialistic, manipulative, and ambitious. Somehow, perhaps by those very characteristics, I thought at first, she was a stereotypical “dizzy blonde”.

Wrong.

She was intelligent, informed, witty, and tough. In one instance, the narrator who was infatuated and often vexed with Holly, jabs her with a very subtle insult to her intelligence. She responds coolly…
“Everybody has to feel superior to somebody,” she said. “But it’s customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege.”

Holly is likeable in the same way that Scarlett O’Hara or Becky Sharp are likeable. She is nobody’s fool, bold, and relentless – in spite of inner fear, doubt, and vulnerability.

She holds no job, but rather depends on the generosity of wealthy men – though she is not a prostitute. Capote called her: "An American geisha".

She is probably a fictional composite of numerous people: the author himself, his mother, and others. Numerous starlets have claimed they were the inspiration – only natural – if Audrey Hepburn plays the role, others will flatter themselves it was based on themselves.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
 


This novel satisfies – Back to the Classics Challenge 2018 – Category: a 20thCentury classic.

This is the first time I’ve read Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Truman Capote. I am instantly a fan of Capote’s writing. He writes in simple prose, but with earthy and accessible color.
The walls were stucco, and a color rather like tobacco-spit.

Capote uses a good deal of symbolism. The most poignant being an elaborate birdcage that Holly and the narrator both admire. Holly buys it for him one Christmas, but demands that he never keep a bird in it. The empty birdcage seems to represent Holly’s desire to be free and uninhibited.

The story was captivating, but I wanted more. I’m sure the lack of precise closure to Holly’s story was intentional, but not a device I’m fond of – hence 4 stars, that could easily have been 4 ½. I wanted to know what became of Holly. Have you read this novella, Truman Capote? What did you think?

Other excerpts:

I simply trained myself to like older men, and it was the smartest thing I ever did. How old is W. Somerset Maugham?

Holly also likes Wuthering Heights – calling it a story that “means something”

“Let’s wish the Doc luck too,” she said, touching her glass against mine. “Good luck: and believe me, dearest doc – it’s better to look at the sky than live there. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”

And finally, a bit of trivia.  Did you know that Truman Capote was a childhood friend of Harper Lee? And that the character Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird is modeled after Capote?.

Film rendition: 1961 starring...is it really necessary to say it...Audrey Hepburn.  If you are prepared in advance that it is quite different from the book, it might be OK. Hepburn definitely owned the role.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Book Blogs / Bookish websites

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl



August 14, 2018: Top Ten Book Blogs / Bookish websites


The name is the description. I read mostly classics, so it’s a great place to meet other classics readers/bloggers. 








Well of course I had to list this one. Another good place to network with other bookish types. I especially like the “compare books” function to see how similar your reading tastes are to others on goodreads.




Because FREE BOOKS, as long as they are in the public domain, and since I read mostly classics, ie mostly old books, many of them are public domain, and therefore free. It’s free, but I make a donation once a year – they don’t bug me for it.


#4 Course Hero – but I’m linking to the Infographics page

Well, because I like the infographics










#5 OK, gonna stop there. Sorry. I’ve reached the point where I am tempted to start listing fellow bloggers, and there’s too many wonderful souls that I’ve connected with. I would hate to leave anyone out. Besides, one of my favorite blogs is there one day, gone the next. No telling. Some of you know who I’m talking about.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (novel #107)


A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens



It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. ~ Sydney Carton

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ~ Our Lord Jesus Christ



A Tale of Two Cities is unlike Dickens’ other novels: there is no humor, no caricatures, no amusing aptronyms, all characteristics I enjoy – and yet, for me – A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens’ greatest work.

I first read this in high school. I was one of the few who liked it. I was even teased a bit for liking it – I’ll gladly own that.

Before beginning this reread I wondered if, four decades later, it would be as powerful? if I would enjoy it quite so much? It was! I did!

In truth, this is my new #1 – The best novel I’ve read.

The setting is the two cities: London and Paris, in the years of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five leading up to and during the French Revolution.

Dickens’ prose is almost like poetry. He describes the passions that overwhelmed France in a way that was almost beautiful – though they were a bloody terror. He describes life in Britain going jolly well on, but with unspoken trepidation when news from across the channel was whispered in dark corners and back rooms.

         It was the best of times, 
         it was the worst of times…

The characters are believable, flawed, fearful, pitiable, passionate, and noble. The hero, except for one shining moment, is a perfect reprobate – and would tell you so himself. But oh! – that shining moment!
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…

But it is not Dickens’ prose, nor his characters that are the great achievement of A Tale of Two Cities; it is the subject, the topic, the thesis…

Love, more precisely – The Greatest Love.

It’s a classic theme, one that has been used time and again, and I must be careful in my praise of Dickens, for although I believe he employed the time-honored motif with brilliant effect, he is not the original author. There is a much older book, that speaks more perfectly of sacrificial love.

Nonetheless, Bravo Mr. Dickens!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
 


I read this novel for The Classics Club Spin #18 (number 9, being the chosen number)

As I’ve already mentioned, this is the second time I’ve read A Tale of Two Cities and the sixth work of Dickens [A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers]. Admittedly, I have not yet read Bleak House, which along with David Copperfield and Great Expectations are more commonly held to be his greatest. I respectfully dissent. Have you read A Tale of Two Cities? Where does it fall in your estimation of Dickens’ works?

Other Excerpts:
The famous opening lines…
It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief
it was the epoch of incredulity
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,

Mere messages in the earthly order or events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America:  which strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received…

…the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless…

Recalled to life

…although Sydney Carton would never be a lion, he was an amazingly good jackal…

She looked so beautiful in the purity of her faith in this lost man, that her husband could have looked at her as she was for hours.

Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the world – the figure of the sharp female La Guillotine.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die ~ the scripture that Sydney Carton recalled, from his youth, on the eve of his finest hour

Miss Pross was the family’s devoted friend, Miss Pross knew full well that Madame Defarge was the family’s malevolent enemy.

Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle that they had.

I have been able to raise my thoughts to Him who was put to death, that we might have hope and comfort here today. ~ an innocent victim of la Guillotine 

Eye to eye, voice to voice, hand to hand, heart to heart, these two children of the Universal Mother, else so wide apart and differing, have come together on the dark highway, to repair home together, and to rest in her bosom.

Famous last line of a Tale of Two Cities
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.



Sunday, August 5, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation: From Atonement to Jane Eyre

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @ Books Are My Favorite and Best.


This month’s chain begins with Atonement by Ian McEwan, a tale of a terrible injustice, and the main character’s nearly hopeless attempt to atone. The ending of this novel – well, there are two endings. The reader – this reader – was confused, then troubled, then satisfied, though imperfectly so.

Another novel with alternate, confusing, troubling, and imperfectly satisfying endings is The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It is the tale of a beautiful, intelligent, beguiling, manipulative, and yet somehow still likeable young woman.

Which is a pretty accurate description of Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair.

And Becky reminds me of Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind (rumor has it Becky was the inspiration for Scarlett, though I don’t think Margaret Mitchell ever confirmed this.)

And Scarlett in turn reminds me of Anna Karenina, perhaps partially because Vivien Leigh play both roles, but more importantly because both fall for unattainable men – and both to their own unhappiness.

Misplaced love leading to ruin and unhappiness, leads me to Emma of Madame Bovary.

And finally, by antithesis. Scarlett, Anna, and Emma all remind me of Jane Eyre, who also loved an unattainable man, but who refused to compromise her morality – and ultimately to her happiness and reward.

And that – is how you get from Atonement to Jane Eyre.