Thursday 30 November 2006

Sidewalk Café: No Freud Here, Please

When I said “western books are more applicable to life”, I meant they are closer to western life than Vietnamese books are to Vietnamese life, while for sure they are not suited to Vietnam all the time. It is certain that the bookworms I mentioned are loyal readers of western books, or books written by western authors, and they are always in the mood to apply what they read to Vietnam circumstances. That was the case of Dinh T.A. trying to bring “Speed of Thought” into a small-sized private Vietnamese company. But, intelligent as he was, he didn’t see concrete conditions needed to realize the plan, which is why it went bankrupt right from the start, i.e. from his presentation. What could he expect from an audience that included computer-illiterate car drivers, accountants, and administrative staffs, and a “Chief Executive Officer” who has never given even the cheapest paperback a quick look? They did not care much about a future web-based company where computer played a significant role. They did not feel the need to move on quickly with a “smart globalized economy”. Some of them, with their simply mind, did not even know which problems the company was facing, or what their own problems were.

So what were one supposed to do if they were in his case? I am not sure, but I might probably suggest a deeper look into specific circumstances before we let ourselves think of any reform. What I want to say is we can’t attain a better understanding of the place to which we belong and which we want to change by just reading books. We need to see more people, listen to more voices, witness more life stories, and, in sum, to experience more of life. Otherwise it would just be like talking about Freud in a sidewalk café - the whole crowd would turn round to see what the fool looked like.

By “applicability of books” I wish to mean every word of which books being applied to which life. I feel (just “feel”, because I don’t have any clue) westerners are less likely to become bookworms, because it seems in the west that the difference between book and life is not so big as the one in Vietnam.

It is true that this world’s progress is based, either partly or entirely, upon the minds of thinkers, and many of them are those who choose to work only with knowledge. Many ground-breaking ideas sounded crazy in the first place, or at least they were considered crazy by the contemporaries, but they changed the world at last. However, because Vietnam has lagged far behind, everything related to us should be seen a bit differently (to the way it is seen in a western context).

Although I respect all bookworms, I must say that they can sometimes make things difficult for others, though it’s certainly not their wish. My very few years of working in television production shows me that if one tries to impose all what they read from western books on their Vietnamese collegues’ minds, they will spoil things instead of improving them. It was my case, sometimes. It also was the case of some TV talents who insisted on working professionally with full professional support from a professional managerial system, and denied working with the unprofessional who are many in number. Oh my godness, we all are bookworms!

But this is just a small example, by which I do not mean to provide evidence to any argument. In most cases, bookworms are harmless to the rest, and I accept them, then. The harm, if there is any, falls on bookworms themselves when they bury themselves in useless knowledge, from which we gain nothing.

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