All entries for Friday 01 October 2004

October 01, 2004

Currently Reading…

So, are we all leafing through those textbooks, then?

Ok, I'm lazy, so this is short. (And I want lunch!)

Right now, I'm reading recreationally two books. (Ok, recreation is a little too far. Voluntarily may be closer to the truth.)

1. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pychon.

Several copies of this are available in the library. If ever a work of science fiction came close to recognition as a literary classic, this may well be it. Or so I've heard. It turns out, too, that its readership is divided into those who love it utterly, and those who toss it into some trash pile as unreadable. The first chapter at least starts well. The description of the V2 launch, its trail refracting the morning sun, is truly captivating.

2. The Individual in a Social World: Essays and Experiments by Stanley Milgram.

You may not have heard of this book, perhaps not even of the author. But you will definitely have heard of one of its experiments. Specifically, the Stanford experiment, a lesson in obedience where a subject willingly 'shocks' an actor, simply because someone told him to. Grim stuff, hmm?

Not really. While Milgram's experiments are serious ones, (perhaps with even greater relevance in this post 9/11 hell) he manages to keep a relaxed, informal attitude. His experiments are ingenious, often bringing to mind certain 'Hidden Camera' shows. (For example, he and his associates would stare into empty space, and record whether any passersby do likewise. Or he would put letters addressed to the Communist party through the letterboxes of fervent republicans, to see what happens.) In short, this makes social psychology fun, and still very enlightening.

There is one copy of this in the library, and I have it. Sorry.


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