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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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説教臭い本

 
自分、自分と自分アピールばかりをしないで、“humility, sympathy, honest self-confrontation”こそが重要だという本をDavid Brooksが出していたのを読み始めました。こんなありきたりな説教臭い本は売れないだろうと思ったらNYTのNonFictionで2位に入っていました。David Brooksの本として買っているからでしょうか。

まあ、彼の言うこともわかります。この辺りは日本でもアメリカでも似ているんですね。英語学習でも「英語劣等生の僕が1年で英語をマスターした方法」みたいな自分アピールの本は定番ですよね。今アメリカで卒業式のシーズンですが、ジョブズのスピーチを筆頭に卒業スピーチの定番は今では自分のやりたいことをやろう、自分らしくあろうというテーマがほとんどで、社会のためにといった視点はそれほどみかけないですよね。そんな今の時代を彼はBig Meと呼んでいます。



JUDY WOODRUFF: You also say, I think, toward the end of the book, the prescription is something like we all have to stand against the prevailing winds of whatever the culture is telling us to do.
That’s hard.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
We live in a culture of a big me. We’re encouraged — we raise our kids to think how great they are, where we have to market ourselves to get through life. We’re in social media, where we broadcast highlight — highlight reels of our own lives on Facebook.
And, you know, especially me, I’m a pundit. I’m, like, paid to be a narcissistic blowhard and be in front of the camera. But the key to this kind of world and this kind of life is stepping outside that. And so one of the conclusions I came to was that it’s your ability to make connections. The people who really have character make deep, unshakable connections to something outside themselves.
They’re capable of a web of unconditional love and they’re committed to tasks that can’t be completed in a lifetime. Frances Perkins, one of my great heroes in the book, was committed to the cause of worker safety. And she was sort of committed to it for a little while. But then she witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and saw hundreds of people die.


冒頭部分が読めますが、résumé virtuesとeulogy virtuesとを対比します。社会的成功や試験のスコアなどにこだわる人のことを The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job mar­ket and that contribute to external successと定義しています。

Excerpt: The Road To Character
RECENTLY I'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job mar­ket and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They're the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being — whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.
Most of us would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé virtues, but I confess that for long stretches of my life I've spent more time thinking about the latter than the former. Our education system is certainly oriented around the résumé virtues more than the eulogy ones. Public conversation is, too — the self-help tips in magazines, the nonfiction bestsellers. Most of us have clearer strate­gies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character.
One book that has helped me think about these two sets of virtues is Lonely Man of Faith, which was written by Rabbi Joseph Soloveit­chik in 1965. Soloveitchik noted that there are two accounts of cre­ation in Genesis and argued that these represent the two opposing sides of our nature, which he called Adam I and Adam II.
Modernizing Soloveitchik's categories a bit, we could say that Adam I is the career-oriented, ambitious side of our nature. Adam I is the external, résumé Adam. Adam I wants to build, create, produce, and discover things. He wants to have high status and win victories.
Adam II is the internal Adam. Adam II wants to embody certain moral qualities. Adam II wants to have a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong — not only to do good, but to be good. Adam II wants to love intimately, to sacrifice self in the service of others, to live in obedience to some transcendent truth, to have a cohesive inner soul that honors creation and one's own possibilities.
While Adam I wants to conquer the world, Adam II wants to obey a calling to serve the world. While Adam I is creative and savors his own accomplishments, Adam II sometimes renounces worldly success and status for the sake of some sacred purpose. While Adam I asks how things work, Adam II asks why things exist, and what ultimately we are here for. While Adam I wants to venture forth, Adam II wants to return to his roots and savor the warmth of a family meal. While Adam I's motto is "Success," Adam II experiences life as a moral drama. His motto is "Charity, love, and redemption."


Guardianの書評なんかはシニカルな反応をしています。

The Road to Character review – a smug search for the roots of good nature
David Brooks’s quest to discover the fundamentals of good character gets hopelessly lost along the way
Yvonne Roberts

Monday 20 April 2015 09.00 BST

David Brooks is a conservative columnist for the New York Times and a broadcaster. He tells us in The Road to Character that he has a “natural disposition to shallowness”. At full mea culpa throttle, he adds that he is paid to be, “a narcissistic blow hard… I have to work harder than most people to avoid a life of smug superficiality”. In this book, at least, his struggle is less than successful. Brooks is a wealthy high achiever and – if this book is any guide – he doesn’t like himself very much. He dislikes the narcissistic society, “The Big Me”, of which he is a part, even more. So he wrote the book to reach for something more than happiness, he tells us, with an ironic touch of the self-centred, “to save my soul”.

The Road to Character is confused and contradictory. Brooks berates the lack of an inner life, in a culture in which he says, “the competition to succeed and win admiration is so fierce that it becomes all-consuming”. He argues we need “humility, sympathy, honest self-confrontation” to build character. His quest is to identify the virtues that help an individual to become “deep… rooted in something spiritual and permanent”.

Brooks portrays several historical figures marked by “selflessness, generosity and self sacrifice”. They include Ida Eisenhower, mother of Dwight, and the extraordinary Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to a cabinet post (by Franklin Roosevelt) in US history. She dedicated her life to workers’ rights after watching, powerless, as 47 people plunged to their death in 1911, following a fire in New York in the Triangle shirt factory. Brooks’s theory is that we read about the lives of people of character, and then we emulate. “We admire… and bend our lives to mimic theirs.” Well, possibly.

******

John M Doris, in Lack of Character (2002), challenges assumptions about character that date back to Aristotle. Circumstance – the situation – can influence what people do, whatever character they appear to have. He quotes one study in which only 11% of people stopped to help a man who had dropped his books when there was also the loud sound of a lawn mower. Eighty per cent stopped to help when there was no noise. From Aristotle through Hume, Nietzsche and others, Doris points out, “discourse of character often plays against a background of social stratification and elitism”. Those deemed to be of character are also the “noble”, wealthy and “higher type”. Don’t the rich have enough privileges without claiming good character for themselves too?


この本で思い出したのは2012年のマイケルルイスのスピーチ。彼は成功というのはたまたま環境が恵まれていたのだから、本人が特に優れていたというわけではないという論調でした。



Michael Lewis on Princeton Speech: I Aimed To Give Something Unexpected
June 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
After providing some thought-provoking words to the graduates of Princeton's Class of 2012, author Michael Lewis speaks with Jeffrey Brown on the merits of success, the relationship between luck and good fortune, and the responsibility luck warrants.

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