-”At first I were reluctant to see ‘Life of Pi‘ fearing it would be based on a ‘be good’/wellness book, or story. I look away, I do not want to touch nor read any ‘be good/wellness’ book or close to it. I refuse Paulo Coelho.”
— Why? I asked, feeling the same reluctance but wanting to hear out her explanation. She hesitated.
— It feels like they are designed for a target group, and I don´t want to be a target, or part of a target group.
— A feeling of that ”they” deliberatly tell you want you want to hear? I filled in.
She had put it quite well. I share the feeling with her – I too do not want to be predicted. I too, do not want to be labeled, considered a gullable goal. But there are other reasons for my reluctance as well. It is about not wanting to be mastered in my own area, my own personal space or being. This area is mine where I am the expert. Still, things told in the ”be good/wellness” books needs to be told both as affirmations of my own feelings and findings, and as a way to share those findings.
I myself writes a typical ”be good/wellness” book. So why the reluctance? Several thoughts and associations came up.
One obvious reason is about how the target group for wellness books is presented in media and also its social place. Middleaged women, running around searching for happiness and selfullfilment. Often shown in a slightly ridiculed way. They seldom have any influence or considerable power. Do I want to identify myself with an image like that? And of course it is about me sharing my cultural spheres attitudes about this group or not. The image, the ridiculed woman, shown not only in media, annoys me and make me angry. This image, so easy to laugh at, permeates our society as a general understated attitude which of course also shows in how we talk. The worst thing about it is that I cannot help sharing them in some parts – this annoys me even more. (more in ”red gloves”)
Another association to books in general is also quite well known and very much both written and thought of – the gender aspect. Books in general has been written by men and for men (fewer women). And when women do write, their products are tagged ”for women” or children, not considered to be ”real” books for mankind, alas. Hopefully, this attitude nowadays belongs to a historic past.
However the thought which caught my greatest interest (because it links to ”red gloves”) is the manner the books are written in. And how the manner is expressed, the way with words. This, I guess, plays a profound role in some way and links directly to womens litterature and to the ”be good”/wellness litterature, because there are historical explanations of how this manner to write have been created. Part of this ”manner” which deserves to be given more thorough thought is the scientific colouring. This aspect I suspect plays a significant role in this particular manner, all the way in all parts from thought, scribbling down signs (letters) and through the distribution of text. And my expectations of its presence in the text, hence my reluctance. I guess the reason for the author to consider this aspect is in order to be taken seriously? The idea to gain trust through a scientific manner to write, clashes to the artists way to gain trustiness by writing directly as a first hand experience as many of the wellness books are. Now, if this clash or mix (depending on your idea about were knowledge stems from) is done in a superficial way with mindless generalizations and lack of actual sience when claiming there is by the manner. Then I can feel invaded in my personal space, beeing told what I am, classified, pinned up like a scientists speciment.
I´ll ask her, what she might think about this. The scientific colouring leads me to think of the considered gap between an artists and a scientists ways to investigate and to express their findings in word. My impression of the writing manner in the ”Be good”/Wellness litteratur is that it is often less scientifically coloured but still – it is there. This mixed manner leads to my rather long reflection in ”red gloves” about why, how and by whom the border of ”western medicine” is held. This manner is changing, of course, it always has been, the access of every(wo)mans words on internet (everyone with access to a computer and a connection), like this text, will probably change it. Already it seems to have an impact on printed texts in ”real” books. Writing more direct, making the historical explanations and backgrounds as a part of the action, in what is happening now. With the possibility to change, correct.
(I followed a site of a goldmine for a while. It was fascinating to observe how history and background was rewritten when new owners took over or other crucial events occured.) The conquerer writes the history!
One final thought about reluctance to ”be good”/wellness litteratur is the reluctance to dig in ourselves for answers. Again it links to the scientific approach to the world, in which we learn to find the answers outside ourselves with an objective attitude. The popularized concept behind science and vague ideas about objectivity opposed to subjectivity, blurs a constructive way to comprehend and express why and by whom the boundaries of science are held. At the core I suspect is about two different ideas of what knowledge is and how it is created.
A significant difference between them is the concept of time. In the simplified popular version of science it only deals with facts. And this version of science often refer to naturalscience as ”the real science”. Which means it only deals with things and thoughts already done, past tense. While artists can be both in the past and in the present. It is in the present we live, feel and make our descisions, create! Hence science should be dead and it would be impossible to research, to make new findings. But scientists are also alive, the problem is that in science there is no real strategy to deal with the present in an ”scientific” way= facts and objectivity. The easisest way is to not acknowledge it and avoid the risk to get kicked out of ones academic career, as a medieval monk astray from the orthodox way.
The story ”Life of Pi” written by Yann Martel and also the film based on it, deals with the mix – it is told with grace, elegant and breathtaking grace. I did ask my friend more about her reluctance to wellnessbooks, but it is hard to ask without imposing any of my ideas. To keep the questions open – so she did not say so much more.
- Destination: health and wholeness (csmonitor.com)
- New Book: Soliloquies – Of A Reluctant Householder (satyasarada.wordpress.com)