Tag Archives: Fiction

Literature makes better leaders

A Harvard Professor teaches MBA students how to become moral leaders, and finds lessons in literature:

“the understanding of what makes a good leader starts with searching for truth in works of fiction.”

“It takes something really big to shape somebody … The reason literature can have that influence–these books kind of get under peoples’ skin.”

“Because you read these books, and you might see one of these characters and think, ‘That’s me.”

“I think what you get from serious literature is a warts-and-all view of people and people in leadership positions … In other words, the authors can be basically unsparing. The good stuff and bad stuff and the confused stuff going over (the characters’) heads, it’s all there. You can see it and learn from how these characters made decisions.”

“This course is intensely practical, if the term practical is understood to include preparation for living a morally responsible life … One of the goals of this course is to move you beyond your immediate reactions in challenging situations toward a more considered and analytical approach to moral and ethical decision-making.”

From: m.fastcompany.com/3029202/bottom-line/how-literature-creates-a-more-moral-future-ceo

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Genre Boundaries are Fluid

“why do we divide books into genres at all? At some level, we needn’t. Looking at a book purely as an example of a genre can limit your understanding of both the book and the genre.”

“We are generally conditioned to think that ‘genre’ applies to books that are detective stories, or romances, or science fiction tales, books that follow a certain set of rules and are possibly limited by them. On the other hand ‘literary fiction’, the stuff which isn’t a part of these genres, is supposed to be completely unbounded by these kinds of elements, but many people argue that actually literary fiction is a recognisable genre of its own with certain common traits: social realism, an interest in the epiphanies experienced by individuals and an emphasis on prose craft. But you can find these qualities in genre fiction; crime fiction can engage with society in a very serious and real way, a fantasy novel can be about an individual’s own concerns and insights, science fiction can be beautifully written.”

“It is also good to be aware of the limits of genre, to know that genres can be fluid and that you should always look beyond genre boundaries in your reading and even in your writing!”

From: http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/student/What-is-a-Genre/2014/03/17/article2113810.ece1

When Writers Draw from Life

“Gonzalo Mosca was a radical on the run. Hunted by Uruguay’s dictators, he fled to Argentina, where he narrowly escaped a military raid on his hideout. “I thought that they would kill me at any moment,” Mosca says.

With nowhere else to turn, he called his brother, a Jesuit priest, who put him in touch with the man he credits with saving his life: Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

It was 1976, South America’s dictatorship era, and the future Pope Francis was a 30-something leader of Argentina’s Jesuit order. At the time, the country’s church hierarchy openly sided with the military junta as it kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of leftists like Mosca.

Critics have argued that Bergoglio’s public silence in the face of that repression made him complicit, too, and they warn against what they see as historical revisionism designed to burnish the reputation of a now-popular pope.

But the chilling accounts of survivors who credit Bergoglio with saving their lives are hard to deny. They say he conspired right under the soldiers’ noses at the theological seminary he directed, providing refuge and safe passage to dozens of priests, seminarians and political dissidents marked for elimination by the 1976-1983 military regime.”

From: http://m.savannahnow.com/latest-news/2014-03-13/survivors-pope-francis-saved-many-dirty-wars

More about Jesuits, Liberation Theology, Death Squads, and Dirty Wars, in AGENTS OF CHANGE:

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Unlikely Revolutionaries take to arms to turn the archaic Catholic Church into the leading force for change, and in the process they become the biggest threat to the U.S.’s interests…

The battle for change erupts and spreads from the Spiritual to the Temporal world. Agents of Change infiltrate the battlefields, and establishments of public and religious life, because with its murderous military-industrial complexes, rogue banksters, backward religious institutions, and corrupt political systems, the world is in need of a dramatic transformation…

Agents of Change right what is wrong…

Reading literature lessens stereotypes

“The benefits of reading literary fiction are many, ranging from making us morecomfortable with ambiguity to honing our ability to pick up on the emotional states of others. Newly published research adds yet another positive outcome to that list: It can make us at least a little less racist.”

“A research team from Washington and Lee University reports that, in an experiment, reading a snippet of a novel about a Muslim woman produced two welcome results. Readers were more likely to categorized people as mixed-race, rather than forcing them into specific racial categories. They were also less likely to associate angry faces with disliked outsider groups.”

“Recent research has found that when we observe perceived outsiders, our brains do less of the mental mirroring associated with empathy. As a result, we feel less connected to them than we do to members of our own tribe.”

“There is growing evidence that reading a story engages many of the same neural networks involved in empathy.”

“Perhaps narrative fiction can bridge this empathy gap,” the researchers, led by psychologist Dan Johnson, write in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.”

More: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/books-and-culture/reading-literary-fiction-can-make-less-racist-76155/

Hitmen, Fiction vs Real Life (and Death)

A must for readers and writers of thrillers:

“A group of researchers at the Center for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University in the U.K. has recently analyzed newspaper articles, court records, and a series of “off-the-record” interviews with informants “who have, or who had, direct knowledge of contract killings” in order to construct what they term a “typology” of British hitmen.” …

“The main thrust of the paper, which will be published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, is that hitmen do not operate with the drama, professionalism, or glamour that mob films and spy novels afford them. In actuality, the majority of killers select jejune settings for their crimes, have occasionally bumbling performances, and are often hired by contractors with lame motivations.”

“Here’s the profile of an average British hitman, who seems more confined by the boxy restraints of reality than the undulating arcs of fiction:”

“He kills on the cheap. The average asking price was £15,180. It was £100,000 at the highest level, and a teenager was shafted with £200 at the low end.” …

“The weapon of choice was a firearm.” …

“Most of the killers were working on first-time contracts, meaning there weren’t many long-distance snipers taking shots from towers.” …

READ MORE: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/politics-and-law/how-hitmen-operate-73430/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+miller-mccune%2Fmain_feed+%28Pacific+Standard+-+Main+Feed%29

How writers come up with novel ideas

How do writers come up with story ideas and turn them into novels?

“If one idea in particular seems attractive, and you feel you could do something with it, then you toss it around, play tricks with it, work it up, tone it down, and gradually get it into shape. Then, of course, you have to start writing it. That’s not nearly such fun – it becomes hard work. Alternatively, you can tuck it carefully away, in storage, for perhaps using in a year or two years’ time.”  Agatha Christie

Build personal wealth by reading fiction

There “is money in books.” …

“Don’t expect, however, to find explicit tips on spending, saving, and investing baked into the texts like messages in fortune cookies. Novelists and dramatists seem suspicious if not disdainful of those who dole out advice about money — which is perhaps why, when they do offer worthwhile personal-finance counsel, the words tend to be put into the mouths of imbeciles.” …

“So if literature offers no pecuniary prescriptions and might send overzealous readers off tilting at windmills, why should seekers of financial advice invest any time in it? Based on my own quixotic reading, and after putting the question to both financial pros and professors of literature, there are at least two reasons, I think:”

“First: Novels demonstrate the power the almighty dollar wields over our emotions, thoughts and behavior — and reveal the ripple effect our dealings with money can have on those around us. “

“Second: Fiction is great fun. As much as I enjoy reading psychologists or behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman and Nassim Taleb, or even the latest Malcolm Gladwell bestseller, no account of psychological experimentation or discourse on the human mind and its failings has ever wedged itself in my memory like the foibles of Micawber and Quixote.”

Continue for advice from these financial gurus: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/want-to-get-rich-read-fiction-2013-11-22

Understand the real world through fiction

“People do not read fiction or watch films as observers. Rather they are drawn to participate in the story, making it reality. This has several benefits. It lets them experience how others deal with problems – how their dilemmas confuse them, engage them rationally and emotionally, challenge their values, and force them to balance competing issues. Reading fiction nurtures skills in observation, analysis, diagnosis, empathy, and self-reflection – capacities essential for good customer experiences, for caring about others, and for promoting good leadership practices. Fiction helps its readers to develop insights about people who are different from themselves. As they ponder what they might have done if confronted with a character’s situation, fiction helps its readers to gain insight about themselves as well.”

“Literary fiction, in contrast to popular fiction, focuses on the psychology of their characters and their interrelationships in the story. The authors of literary fiction reveal their character’s minds only vaguely, leaving out important details. The omission requires the reader to fill in the gaps if the character’s motives are to be understood. Literary fiction is rarely explicit about the internal dialog running inside each character’s mind, which consequently forces the reader to imagine it. This is the way the real world works.”

From: patriotpost.us

Readers of Literary Fiction are better at Mind-Reading

“When we read a thrilling-but-predictable bestseller, “the text sort of grabs us and takes us on a roller-coaster ride,” “and we all sort of experience the same thing.” Literature, on the other hand, gives the reader a lot more responsibility. Its imaginary worlds are full of characters with confusing or unexplained motivations. There are no reliable instructions about whom to trust or how to feel.”

Researchers suspect “that the skills we use to navigate these ambiguous fictional worlds serve us well in real life. In particular” they “surmised that they enhance our so-called theory of mind. That’s the ability to intuit someone else’s mental state—to know, for example, that when someone raises their hand toward us, they’re trying to give us a high-five rather than slap us. It’s closely related to empathy, the ability to recognize and share the feelings of others.”

“Increasing evidence supports the relationship between reading fiction and theory of mind. But much of this evidence is based on correlations: Self-reported avid readers or those familiar with fiction also tend to perform better on certain tests of empathy, for example.”

From: news.sciencemag.org

Read fiction to combat insomnia

“Insomnia seems to be becoming increasingly common, and good sleep hygiene … plus a basic understanding of the nature of sleep … can help us to return to a good regular sleep pattern…

The trick is to slip from the real world to the dream one, so lying there rigid with anxiety to achieve unconsciousness is never going to work.

Reading fiction, on the other hand, acts as a first breakaway from reality and gives the mind a first hold on the suppressed state of dream that is so firmly denied all day.

… steer clear of non-fiction books. Read to go into another world, and raise no resistance. Dream actually comes before sleep, and is the way in.”

From: http://m.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/mar/13/cognitive-behaviour-therapy-suzanne-moore

SpyWriter Jack King, the author of:
Agents of Change, WikiJustice, The Black Vault, and The Fifth Internationale.
A new Pope. A new Church. A new world:


http://www.SpyWriter.com