This afternoon I finished Jon Ronson’s “The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry“. At the beginning of the book, he meets a lady called Deborah Talmi, who has received a very odd book from a psychopath called “Being or Nothingness”. Hundreds of fellow academics also receive the book, which sparks off a huge community of people trying to figure it out. Ronson is there to investigate who the author/sender is. His sleuthing involves Professor Douglas Hoffstader, who’s famous book “I Am A Strange Loop” is quoted in the the book. Ms Talmi thinks the book involves Hofstader:
“That’s what I Am a Strange Loop is about,” said Deborah. “It’s about how we spend our lives self-referencing, over and over, in a kind of strange loop. Now lots of people are asking themselves, *Why was I selected to receive this book?’ They aren’t talking about the book or the message. They’re talking about themselves. So Being or Nothingness has created a strange loop of people and its a vessel for them to self-reference.” She paused. “I think that’s Hofstader’s message”.
Ronson ends up exchanging mails with HGofstader and investigating claims that Mr Hofstader has orgies with French women (all nonsense), but he sounds like an interesting guy.
At dinner, I brought my Kindle along as I am along in Copenhagen thanks to the Indian embassy not having my visa ready in time (that will be another story). I decided to start “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement” by David Bloom. I read a rave review in The Guardian a few days ago and decided to bump it up to the top of the reading list.
Less than 20 pages in, still in the Introduction, and who does Mr Brooks quote? Professor Hofstader’s “I Am a Strange Loop”!
That’s as close as I will ever get to believing in ‘signs’. “I am a strange loop” ordered!
David Brooks also quotes one of my all time favourite psychology books “Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious ” by Timothy D Wilson.
Its looking very promising so far….