Wednesday 10 December 2014

Fact or recollection? Or both?

Some of the reviews of my book 'Good Ideas' (John Murray) that are appearing on a certain online bookstore that I won't mention just for the moment are very interesting. They seem to be saying that they hoped for a book of good ideas (fair enough) but have found instead that it's full of 'recollections'.

This raises in my mind the notion that a 'good idea' can't be a 'recollection' and a 'recollection' can't be a good idea. I find this deeply mysterious. Not all, but most of the ideas that I value, cherish and remember have come to me in the context of 'recollections' and/or stories. Or to put it a bit more pompously: narrative is often the best vehicle or transmitter of ideas. In fact, I give the example of a story as told by the former Storytelling Laureate, Taffy Thomas, as a way in which 'ideas' are transmitted through a story.

Perhaps what's going on here, is the rise and rise of the 'empirical'. Or to put it more pessimistically - the Gradgrind education system is inculcating very firmly and indelibly the idea that the only way to get 'facts' (or 'knowledge') is when someone says, 'here comes a fact'. Meanwhile, every day is full of billions of interactions between us where we share knowledge in ways which don't involve us saying, 'Here is a fact'.

Actually, that's one of the points of the book anyway, hah!