Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Tipping Point

I have read 71 pages of Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point," and I can read no further. The book is dangerously written. The prose is conversational, anecdotal, clearly written and convincing -- but only at first glance. The danger, of course, is that readers will consume shallowly, unthinkingly, mistaking the simple writing for simple truth. A closer inspection reveals that Gladwell's grand system of "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" is a set of Capitalized Words of Importance supported by anecdotes. Badly supported by anecdotes! Some of the anecdotes can be interpreted as the opposite of what Gladwell intends; it is only his particular interpretation that makes them support his theory.

A. pointed out that this book taught one thing: how to write a bestselling pop-soft-science book. Capitalize some words (Gladwell choses: maven, connector, salesman, etc. -- words that lose their Magical Significance when uncapitalized) and fill in 200-300 pages of thinly supportive stories from history, personal experience, and the summaries of summaries of popular science articles.

Seems relatively harmless, right? Just popular writing. But as I read, I feel his tone permeate my brain. I often find myself thinking in the diction and sentence structure of whatever I'm reading at the moment. And I simply do not want to think like this book. I'll go cleanse my mental palate with some David Foster Wallace now.

This post's theme word is dipsomania, "insatiable, periodic craving for alcohol." Reading the works of Malcolm Gladwell has been shown to cause dipsomania.
This post written like H. P. Lovecraft.

No comments: