July 28 self help books and arcs

Most books now are self-help books. Other books just don’t cut it anymore. They don’t have the sufficient amount of gobbets or bullet points or lists. They don’t mould to your bite. I can’t read self-help books because I don’t need any help. Also I am averse to being taught anything. BY ANYONE.
Self-help seekers want 1. short cuts. 2. mentors. They are part of the wave of belief in accountability. We can account for story telling; we can account for positive thinking; we can account for happiness. Formulaic procedures can lead us in the right direction. Hollywood uses these.Jennifer Anniston is cooky; Ryan Gosling is hunky; Harrison Ford is statesmanlike; Cameron Diaz is ditzy (she can also do ballsy).This is all useful to know when you start watching a film. That way you can have a kip in the middle. Or, better still, not watch it in the first place. Familiarity is key (see familiarity Jan 18). When writing stories self-help books tell us to follow an arc. I know the arc of bio-pics. They start with a key scene in, say, Enid Blyton’s life, an emblematic scene. Then it goes back to childhood and follows her life from there. It crosses the emblematic scene about two thirds of the way through and then completes the life. The last scene is a flashback, normally guaranteed to produce a wistful tear in the eye of the spectator. Arcs, like Valentine’s Day and jokes are for amateurs. Arcs are rubbish.


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