Roger von Oech

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      « Design for the Other 90% | Main | My Bookshelf Talks Back »


      David Armano

      Roger, what a refreshing post. You know that I need to bone up on my book reading, but you also know that I learn in different ways. Much of how I learn is from observation. Watching people. Of course watching people up close is best, but many of the tools we have available allow us to observe behaviors digitally as well--or in "screen format" as you say.

      I still need to build my library, but I tell you what: I've met a few folks who have impressive bookshelfs but either didn't read all of the books on them or don't practice what they've read. What's the use of knowledge if it doesn't influence behavior? Maybe having a limited bookshelf isn't all bad?

      I don't know what the answer is here.

      PS, I found out about this post via Twitter. :)

      Nedra Weinreich

      I'm with you, Roger. Most of the books on my bookshelf were bought a long time ago, and I don't often purchase a book (nonfiction) unless I think it has information I'll want to refer back to that I can't find online. Most of my fiction reading comes from the library (when I have the time to read, I can go through a lot of books quickly, and it would be very costly to buy all of them). I think a better glimpse into my current worldview would come from looking at the blogs on my feedreader, though I don't make the political and nonmarketing ones open to public viewing.

      Tim Siedell

      You could probably learn a lot about my professional world view by glancing at my RSS reader. I don't think you'd get a good sense of my personal world view by looking around my library. The mix is too scattered and eclectic. Hmmm...maybe that is my world view, after all.

      john alwyine-mosely

      Yes it does, reflect my world view, You would find a bookshelf of radical Theology, that reflects my Quakerism and a quest to make sense of why.

      Next to it you would find shelves of books on all aspects of writing and all manner of sources and advise on Storytelling. Together, these reflect Mythos learning. This reflects my interests in words and engaging audiences with them.

      Facing them both is a big bookcase, full of science, history, biology, social sciences etc that reflect Logos learning.

      Yet bigger then two is my Fiction section that spans the genres and the centuries which for me unites the two streams so allowing and experience the soul of another and the world in ways not of my path.

      Oh the professional literature? On the floor in various boxes based on the filing syesten "of at least its all in one place"

      My world view? There is more then one answer and they may all be correct.

      Robert Hruzek

      Hey, Roger, that's an easy one! Check my blog! I rarely buy non-fiction books any more since I can usually get more up-to-date information from the web. My current library consists of mostly old sci-fi novels; very few of which are YOUNGER than 2 years old (I like to reread stuff a lot).

      Roger von Oech

      David: Interesting take. Your thought: "What's the use of knowledge if it doesn't influence behavior?" People read for various reasons, one of which is entertainment.

      Nedra and Tim: Perhaps you're right: the "RSS Reader is the new book shelf." Not very easy to show to others, however.

      John: Sounds like you have a magnificent collection!

      Robert: "I like to reread stuff a lot." Question for you: how different is a sci-fi book read today compared to when you read it for the first time in the 1970s or 1980s? In January I watched a bunch of Ingmar Bergman films that I had first seen in the late 60s and early 70s. Most held up pretty well, two were even better today, and several were disappointing.

      Mike Brewer

      Music, movie and book collection. The Things that stir Emotion.

      Roger Anderson

      I would say my bookshelf does reflect my world view, although I have books in there that do not. I believe it is important to understand other views and so I have works that are in opposition to my views.

      The video collection - well that is the world view my wife and I agree on.

      Sci-fi today? A lot less effort to introduce a change in sexual behavior. Maybe because it has changed. Maybe it was just the times. Even now reading Hienlien and others I see a lot of extra material not germane to the storyline. Maybe they were not feeling fulfilled - pick the euphemism you prefer.

      That is my world view (at least the public one)

      John E.

      What a challenging question. I would like my worldview (like Salatin's) to be plainly evident in my line of work ... my schedule ... my budget ... and of course books, CDs, etc. But in my case at least, those are all more accidental, constrained, and inconsistent than I would like. (Perhaps those things DO make up my worldview -- yikes!) I find the quote provocative because it's a call to more holistic, intentional living, so that more and more aspects of my life do express my "real" worldview. (Sorry to go all "deep" on you. :-)


      My RSS feed also reflects my most up to date reading.

      I pass on books when I have finished with them as having S.P.A.C.E. around me is important (like you, Roger, I used to have acres of heaving bookshelves).

      The books I like to keep are the ones which have pictures, texture or 'dipping' potential (anecdotes, quotes, stories, images) like Gordon MacKenzie's 'Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving With Grace'. I always need a copy of that to be reachable as a practical guide to staying sane, happy and creative!


      NO! Neither my bookshelf nor my cyber-record indicate my world view... and I bet yours don't either. Rather, the bookshelf and cyber-record indicate what I am (or you are) interested in becoming, perhaps... or maybe just looking-into out of curiosity.

      The indication of our ACTUAL WORLDVIEW is precisely our everyday life, lived. For example you seem to wear a lot of Aloha shirts.

      A term appeared to me a day or so ago: "operative truths". Generally, the way we live our own lives are demonstrations of our own operative truths... we may look-into other truths via books or cyber space but these may remain inoperative for us... and often are also inoperative for the authors who "preach" them, as well.

      Roger von Oech

      Roger, John, and Emily: Thanks for stopping by.

      David: Interesting take. I always liked what the German philosopher Ersnt Cassirer said: "The highest objective truth which is accessible to humans is ultimately the form of their own activity."

      I think most of this discussion about "bookshelf = worldview" has been along the lines of is it a good and accurate indicator, sort of like is a map a good representation of that which is being mapped? Well, it depends on what kind of information you want to get across. All maps distort, i.e, they emphasize certain types of information and omit others. In my case, my "bookshelf map" is not as accurate a map of my "worldview terrain" as it once was.

      Robert Hruzek

      Roger, I know what you mean about those old films - I can watch Casablanca today and still be amazed at it, even considering the cheesy airplane shots! There's just something timeless about the story that still gets to me after countless viewings. (I still cry at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, even though I've seen it about 25 times...

      I feel the same way about some of my old books. I've probably re-read some of them at least 10-15-25 times by now, but they're still just as interesting, even though I practically have them memorized.

      I think good stories are like old friends to me - they're just comfortable to get with every now and then. They don't change, and they always welcome me back!

      It's a sad day when one of by books falls apart and finally has to go to that great book graveyard (it's somewhere in Africa, I think)...

      Valeria Maltoni

      Funny I wrote about NN Taleb's take on the Umberto Eco antilibrary in my review of the Narrative Fallacy, a chapter of his new book, The Black Swan. The more you know, the larger the rows of unread books (= surprises). Full post here


      Roger, that's a very interesting thing to discuss our relationship with cultural objects.

      I had the same feeling : "oh I wish the world new how many books i've read, how well read I am." I even considered making t-shirts with some of them (french pocket collection of Tchekov'splay are beautiful).

      Actually I believe that books help you to go through these exciting but rather scary times when you become an adult (say 18-30).

      These are the cultural grounds you build your personality on. So I dont think we turning our backs now to our beloved books because of the new technology and the digital era we're leaving in. I think we also do so because we dont need them anymore, we're grown up adults.

      Same with music : ask people what their favorite albums are : quite often they mention the ones they were listening to when they were 20. It's not the best music : it' just the soundtrack of their best times.

      (by the way Roger, thanks for commenting my blog it's a huge honor).

      Joanna Young

      This is such an interesting question. I realise it has been running as a background program since you posted it... I don't think my books represent my world view, but they do tell you a lot of my story. Ideas I've explored, moods I've been in, stories I've wanted to listen to or tell, places I've been or wanted to go. The books I keep (some I'm happy to give away 'cos there's no story or emotional attachment) have an immediate association with a time in my life - an idea, an experience, a feeling, a desire. I remember it as soon as I see the book. That's why it's there on the shelf.

      A friend asked me an interesting question today that you might appreciate. What are the books that you'd HAVE to take with you if your house was on fire? His set had ended up (by dint of circumstance) on one shelf - which would make it easier for him to rescue them. I thought about it and knew mine were dispersed which would make things a bit tricky if I was trying to get out of a conflagration. But it also meant that I knew, somewhere and somehow, which ones I'd want to save.

      Which books would you be sure to rescue?


      Roger von Oech

      Joanna: I appreciate your "take" on what books you'd like to rescue. I've got a similar approach, but mine is box of various keepsakes, mementos, and awards through the years.


      Houses are quite expensive and not everybody can buy it. However, loan was invented to aid people in such cases.

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