Reading Diary: A Planet Full of Doofuses by Bob Wallace
This book is a mish mash. But then, the inside of my head is sometimes a mish mash (I occasionally say, "Now where was I going with this . . . ?")
There is some humor here, specifically satire; some little plays, some fiction, some serious stuff. There's even a cartoon. If you like all of it, or some of it, that's good. If you don't and instead froth and get outraged (and I've seen a lot of that) . . . well, I can’t please everyone. Not that I want to.
A word . . . about where the ideas for these articles came from. I don't know. They just popped in my head, sometimes whole. Sometimes they seem to write themselves. It’s mystifying.
I hope you enjoy reading them. I enjoyed writing them. Well, mostly.
I "met" Bob Wallace almost eleven years ago, when I e-mailed him about something he had written that I didn't agree with. Today, there are few things he has written in which I can't find something to agree with. Take one of his articles (not included in this anthology, unfortunately) with his thoughts on education, in which he says . . .
The best way to teach any kid is by being a mentor. The mentor sits at one end of a log and the student at the other. If the student messes up the teacher just bounces him in the air. I'm just kidding about that, but I'm not kidding about sitting on the log.
Every time you read something by "UncleBob," you're the student, he's the mentor, and he's probably bouncing you on some log.
The "syllabus" is always a mixed bag--or as he might say, a mishmash.
There are essays here on topics as diverse as propaganda (how it works), Greek mythology (why it's still worth reading) and the Rapture (how it would play out in an ideal cosmos)--but my favourites are those about the school system.
When I was 12 or 13 I sneaked into my file at school and saw a special notation: "IQ 126." No genius, but an IQ of 125 is the mean average for doctors and Ph.D.s. Even now I remember the surprise I felt: I had no idea I was so smart. Not a clue. After all, hadn't all my grade-school teachers put comments on my report cards about what a bad student I was?
Of course, every teacher and administrator in my entire school career completely dropped the ball in my case . . . In their minds, a high IQ automatically meant good grades. Not once in my entire public school career did any teacher ask, "Why is someone so smart doing so poorly in school? Is there something wrong?"(How Science Fiction Saved Me from Hell--I Mean, Junior High School)
Clearly, someone's twelve-year-old self could have used his own mentor with a log! ;-) If you like SF or had your own reading-fueled imaginative life that got you through school, you'll be able to relate.
Because of the way American life has evolved (in large part due to the interference of the State), there was no place for most teenagers when I was growing up, in society or the family. It's no different today. Teenagers have been marginalized for a long time, including in the family, even if it's not purposely done. Lots of teenager's lives don't have much purpose or meaning, even in their families. There is no true sense of community . . . When I was in high school, we formed our own little communities. The same thing happens today.(Meaningless High School)
Hundreds of young people meeting in the same place, five times a week, eight hours a day, for the better part of the year, and yet there is no sense of community. Yes, that was my high school as well. (Yours, too?)
What I found so interesting about this essay, however, is that it makes the modern family shoulder half the blame for the meaninglessness teenagers feel in their lives. Wallace quotes the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gassett, who wrote: "People do not live together merely to be together. They live together to do something together."
Those of you who live with a family: what is it that you all do together? What is the work that holds you together?
All in all, I'd say I'm happy I received this book for review. And because I heard from another self-published writer that all promotion is meaningless unless it includes a link to the page where one can order his book, I am going to include my first commercial link here:
I like Bob. He's cool. The ebook is a bargain.
Image Source: A Planet Full of Doofuses by Bob Wallace