Archive for September, 2009

In 1944  research into how humans ascribe meaning to stories used this film:

only one of 34 respondents described the movement of  geometric shapes; the rest saw a story!

September 21, 2009 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

bovineCameron, an underachieving sixteen-year-old, is interested in only one kind of music – a performer called the Great Tremolo who sings Portuguese love songs in falsetto accompanied by ukulele and recorder. Cameron, by modern measurements, is not America’s ideal teenager. He is turned off by school, indifferent to his family’s expectations, disgusted by working at a hamburger joint, and happy only when getting high or hanging out at a down and out music store.

After dropping a tray at work and punching a kid at school, Cameron ‘s parents seek medical help. The diagnosis is Creutzfeldt-Jakob or mad cow disease, a neurological sickness that affects the brain, destroying it in time. A patient has 4-6 months to live. There is no cure. Like the book Cameron is reading in school, Don Quixote, Cameron goes on a quest to find a cure. His ‘Sancho Panza’ is a mama’s boy, a dwarf named Gonzo. The love of his life is Dulcie, a sprite with feathery wings, who urges him to stick to his mission. His stead is a broken-down Cadillac known as Rocinante.

The windmills Cameron swats at are American high schools, reality TV shows, macho teens, infidelity, New age feel-good nostrums, and praise for unearned accomplishments. Besides Gonzo, Cameron gets help from a talking gnome, a music band, his knowledge about black holes, comics, love, and friendship.

Mixing physics, music, and mad cow disease in one novel is risky. Bray has written a sprawling book that tilts at modern windmills. It is only partially successful. It is overly long and lags in places, like the section spent in the Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack ‘N ‘ Bowl. There, the humor of everyone always getting perfect scores while bowling fades after the first couple of strikes. It is unnecessary for the author to tell the reader that these kaleidoscope events are only in Cameron’s mind.

Most teens will find enough humor and diversion in this book to ignore the inevitable ending. Bray uses mad cow disease as the perfect vehicle for a kid to take on the world.

Lily Hecker,  Pelham.   Recommended

September 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Telling an Organizational Story

This video is a great example of an organizational story that is short, informative and entertaining.   It is also compelling.  I have tried to figure out what is is that makes this a story I want to watch – and pay attention to – even though I have no particular interest in the business or its history.   Each of the three times I have watched it I’ve found a new aspect of good storytelling at work.   What do you think works here and why (this is best viewed full screen – click on those arrows in the bottom right):

September 9, 2009 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

Telling Stories

I am looking forward to the next few months when in our meetings and workshops  we will be considering our work – and our workplaces – in terms of the stories we/they tell.    In preparation for our meeting in September 22, I am going to be posting some videos, articles and images that have provoked me to think more deeply about the stories we share.

Take, for example, this incredible video by David Hoffman called “Moments” – a compiliation of images which resonate because each of the anecdotes depicted here is a familiar personal experience, a uniquely human one in which we share emotionally and experientially.  In each of these images lies a story to be told, and one which we want to hear or be a part of.    I am reminded that the stories that get our attention, no matter which direction they will take us, begin with a moment of invitation to let their first words and images enter us (even as they ‘take us in’)  and begin to make them our own.

John Sexton

September 1, 2009 at 3:29 pm 1 comment

September 2009