A little shyness goes a long way

Salman Rushdie is a mean writer. He  writes books like very few other people can, positively shining on every page. But I somehow feel that he would be a very poor rapper.

ty&yawIt came to my attention through the blog of Austin Kleon of  the Newspaper Blackout Poems fame that Kanye West, a rapper, former college dropout and self-proclaimed proud non-reader of books, has… well, published a book, called “Kanye West presents Thank You And You’re Welcome”, sired in collaboration with a ghost-writer J. Sakiya Sandifer.

One should not judge a book by its cover so I braced myself to go and hunt it down somewhere in Palo Alto bookstores – a valiant attempt that was ultimately doomed to failure and caused some mildly embarrassing moments at Stanford bookstore when I was trying to explain a very helpful salesperson what exactly am I looking for.

Thus I have no alternative but to rely on the review above (and few more rather venomous reader opinions at amazon.com) – which is possibly no big loss as, apart from the covers, the teaspoon-deep book consists of 52 pages of “thoughts and theories” many of which are empty and even those that aren’t might as well be. Which is hardly surprising considering that the author – or should I say presenter – loathes books saying that “sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed”. Amen, brother.

I mean, it’s fine not to like books for them being so “wordy” and think that it is better to “get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life” – nothing wrong with that. But people who think that “being a non-reader is helpful when writing a book because it gave one a childlike purity” really should stick with rapping or whatever else they do and NOT write books for other people who actually like them being not only “wordy” but also not completely devoid of any meaning and content.

It is a situation in fact similar to a condition suffered unaware by certain new aspiring students of philosophy, who have somehow gotten an idea that philosophy is something best done on one’s own and preferably uncontaminated by the thoughts of people who have tried to deal with same issues in the past – as then the originality of the thinking would inevitably suffer. The result of such an endeavor more often than not carries a similar quality of “childlike purity” and while no doubt a source of much joy and self-realization for the person in question it causes a lot of embarrassment and torture to everyone else exposed to the eventual results.

Dedicating the book to his late mother, Kanye West is quoted saying “My mom taught me to believe in my flyness and conquer my shyness. She raised me to be the voice to allow people to think for themselves, to find their own way.” Thank God that Mrs. Rushdie didn’t press upon little Salman’s flyness to the extent that he would have concquered his shyness to become a rapper.

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