My literacy is lagging. In two months I’ve read dozens of journal articles on tea preparation and consumption, gendered beverages, why anthropology has ignored defecation as an area of inquiry, gaming and alternative identifications, the implications of hypertext and phatic communication on narrative structure and social organization, the role of alcohol as a performative tool and so on. But I’ve managed to finish only one book, Clive Barker’s Mister B. Gone.

That’s not good. Most people in my business don’t have a lot of time in their busy lives to read beyond necessity; that is, read books that will amp up their work game or, in the case of a few books by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, prop up their monitor. I’ve been doing that a lot (reading for work, not propping up monitors) and, when I return to the first or fifth floor after playing hookie past the official holidays, the journal article reading will continue. But will they add the kind of value to the work mind that (and here’s the elevator pitch Clive should be tweaking to deliver to Hollywood’s money men) the greatest buddy road movie about two 16th Century demons terrorizing the European countryside as they make their way to witness and cast their darkness across the birth of the printing press will add? I doubt it.

As a writer, Clive explores the edges and places between the places of the imagination. I first interviewed him in 1988 when he was on a book tour in Canada to promote Weaveworld, his epic first big novel. He knows the value of The Good Read. I know, I know – I know, too. That’s why, on what I thought was a roll during flu season, I finished him and picked up Arundhati Roy’s The God Of Small Things from my wife’s table and became quickly immersed in one Kerala family’s life. It’s brilliant. Not only do I fall for well-crafted reads that return me to India (even if it’s not set in a state or lives I know) but Roy shapes little observations and descriptions like few authors I’ve read.

Roy’s observations and descriptions or Clive’s eye on events as they unfold are far richer and grander than most of the best ethnographic writing. Ethnography and, to a lesser extent, anthropology is the art and science of telling stories about people’s stories. So I should be reading more fiction and less of the journal stuff on gaming an alternative identification or phatic communication – an activity (racing Italians on Mario Kart with my daughter) and a topic (arthritic clients finally forging a “social media strategy”) I find myself increasingly participating in lately.

But I’m still lagging in neutral at the one-third mark on Roy’s book, and now there’s Graham St. John and Grant McCracken scheduling time. I should read Graham’s book, Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures, because a) I’m interested in the subject that consumed six years of my PhD life; b) as the editor of Rave Culture and Religion, Graham published one of my essays six years ago; and, c) that essay is cited in a number of the contributions in this book. I should read Grant’s book, Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation, because a) I’m interested in a subject that I constantly promote to clients that just don’t get it; b) in the forward to the book and as a deft early release marketing ploy leveraging the power of Google Alerts, Grant sneakily thanked what I suspect were all of his LinkedIn and Facebook connects; and, c) if my sole purchase leads to greater sales karma for the book it could mean that I might stop having to convince clients and, instead, supply them with the tools and ideas to make them live and breath better.

Until then – and that could be an eternity – the mission is to finish Roy, get Patty to remove Csikszentmihalyi from under the monitor, talk with my daughter about Raymond E. Feist and work on part two of the literacy equation – writing. Apologies for no posts in months.

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