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The following reviews are written exclusively for this issue of New Nurturing Potential

Stillness in a Mobile World edited by David Fuller and Gillian Bissell -  Reviewer Stephen Bray

On What Matters by Derek Parfit - Reviewer Joe Sinclair

Exploiting Childhood edited by Jim Wild - Reviewer Mark Edwards

Identify Problems in the Facebook Era by Daniel Trottier - Reviewer Joe Sinclair

A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Management Research by Emma Bell and Richard Thorpe - Reviewer Edit Kovacs.

The Writer's Key by Gillie Bolton - Reviewer Joe Sinclair

A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning by Ray Jackendoff - Reviewer Joe Sinclair - Expanded, revised and incorporating the interim review published in Potential Unleashed Issue 7.


The following reviews were initially published in Potential Unleashed issues 6 and 7.

Sociolinguistics by John Edwards.  Reviewer Joe Sinclair


Mindful Therapeutic Care For Children  by Dr Joanna North- Reviewer Mark Edwards 


Leadership - A Critical Text  by Simon Western - Reviewer Joe Sinclair


No One's World by Charles A. Kupchan - Reviewer Terry Goodwin  


50 Great Myths About Atheism by Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk - Reviewer Sep Meyer


Cyberbullying and E-safety by Adrienne Katz - Reviewer Michael Mallows


Cosmopolitanism - Uses of the Idea by Zlatko Skrbis and Ian Woodward - Reviewer Edit Kovacs


Enlightenment Shadows by Genevieve Lloyd.  Reviewed by Joe Sinclair


Improving Mental Health Care, The Global Challenge edited by Graham Thornicroft - Reviewer Elizabeth Winder  


Can I Tell You About Adoption by Anne Braff Brodzinsky - Reviewer Michael Mallows


Stillness in a Mobile World edited by David Fuller and Gillian Bissell.  Paperback.  272 pages.  £28.00.   ISBN 978-0-415-86081-9. Published by Routledge.

St. Augustine said: 'What time is I know when I don't ask myself, but when I ask what it is I no longer know.'1 Similarly, we have a problem with the concepts of mobility and stillness for they are like two sides of the same cup. This would not be so much a problem were it not for the editors titling the book 'Stillness in a Mobile World', for in doing so they create the illusion that the mobile world is a container, and stillness the contained. Aside from historical precedents across a myriad of philosophical systems, and religious teachings originating from the East, that if anything the opposite is so, and true nature is still with movement being a function of 'Mind' contained within it, the editors and authors of this slim, but dense, work choose to articulate concepts in the language of social constructivism.

To quote from J. D-Dewsbury's essay: 'The singularity of the still', which comes toward the end of the volume: "What is place if we are always in the act of placing, or being placed such that the 'still' is a place where there is none; there is no place to be had in the 'still'? The 'still' is thus not a non-place, but it is rather non-placing. What is to be gained by seeing the 'still', this appearance and disappearance, as the passage between two states, as the spacing between presence and absence which is itself a presence, that neutral ground of being and the space that is the il y a emanating from the friendship of thought between Emmanuel Levinas and Blanchot? . . . I think this is a fundamental modality of philosophy, namely the enactment of a moment's pause to think upon the question of what it means to be in the world."

It's not an easy book. Maybe because it's aimed at academics, perhaps those in need of source materials for advanced theses, but as a member of a more general readership I found the experience rather like entering a gallery of modern art, where different practitioners are contributing on different floors. Many of the works offer some enlightenment, but the complete experience leaves us seeking the relief of doughnuts and coffee in the gallery cafeteria.

That stated, there's much to be found within the covers. The introduction, which would benefit from an overall simplification of terms and language in order to encourage further engagement, informs us that the book is about exploring 'stillness in its multiplicity'. In other words, you will find no uniform concept of stillness within the twelve papers that comprise the main text. It does, however, follow Barthes (in The Neutral), by suggesting that an incomprehension of stillness has a capacity to create suspicion - "Still is often conceptualised into a logic of practical action, a still that always gives way to movement, to make movement more exciting, more powerful, more intense."

Such a perspective runs counter to the experience of those of us who value stillness as intense and exciting, and movement an unnecessary distraction. That stated Craig Martin, in the book's penultimate chapter - 'Turbulent stillness: The politics of uncertainty and the undocumented migrant', holds fast to the notion of stillness being an interruption of movement. He begins by quoting Stewart's work 'Ordinary Affects' where it is claimed: 'A still is a state of calm, a lull in the action'. He goes on to discuss a number of instances of illegal immigrants who died as a result of being confined in various conveyances without proper heating and ventilation. Illegal migration is frequently punctuated by periods of enforced stillness as people must wait in uncertainty for others to convey them past police or border controls. This waiting is amplified for people who travel illegally because 'the regulation of rapidity is at the root of commercial and political power.' The essay concludes by stating that those of us who travel using passports and legitimate carriers come at some points to places of rest and security, whereas respite for the illegal migrant must necessarily be uncertain, even though physically their bodies are still.

Continued below - click here



On What Matters by Derek Parfit.  Hardback in 2 volumes.  Vol 1, 590 page..  Vol 2, 840 pages.  Price £40.00.  ISBN No.  978-0-19-926592-3 .  Published by Oxford University Press.




I was somewhat surprised that none of our readers or regular book reviewers  to whom this two-volume work by Derek Parfit had been offered for review had chosen to accept the offer;  especially since it has been the subject of so much acclaim. Under the circumstances I decided to review the books myself.  A somewhat daunting task, I felt, when confronted with a combined total of in excess of 1400 pages.  And the task was actually even more complex since each volume contains, in effect, three separate works that, by the author's own admission, could stand on their own.

But sometimes happiness comes in other than “small packages” and I have been pleased to discover that not only have I been granted the joy, by default or otherwise, of critically examining this  magnum opus but deriving the utmost satisfaction from so doing.

According to the back cover of the dust jacket, “this book is about reasons, value and morality”.

Parfit lets us know where he stands right from the start.  “Kant is the greatest moral philosopher since the ancient Greeks.  Sidgwick’s Methods is, I believe, the best book on ethics ever written.”  His hope is to persuade people “to read, or re-read, Sidgwick’s Methods and some of Kant’s books.”

Parfit’s paean to Sidgwick echoes the praise of other notable Utilitarian philosophers such as John Rawls who claims that Methods of Ethics "is the clearest and most accessible formulation of ... 'the classical utilitarian doctrine'" (a)

Despite the immoderate length of Parfit’s work, he has made it eminently readable by more than just the clarity of his writing.  For example, he begins each of the Volumes with lengthy summaries and I must confess that without the clarity and comprehensiveness of those summaries to help me, I would have been hard-pressed to complete this review within the time frame I had allotted myself.

It was actually very reassuring to have this demonstration of the admired technique I described in another review in this issue: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them . . . “

But, “revenant à nos moutons” . . .  the main text (Page 1) starts “We are the animals that can both understand and respond to reasons”.  And here Parfit has unequivocally set out his rationalist stall.

It has been suggested that the book may be defined as being about moral progress, taking a positive view that moral progress is possible.  The last page of the main section of Volume 1 includes the words  “It has been widely believed that there are such deep disagreements between Kantians, Contractualists, and Consequentialists. That, I have argued, is not true. These people are climbing the same mountain on different sides.”  (p.419)

His arguments are from an objective ethical basis, holding to the view that certain courses of action may be based upon objective considerations regardless of what we might wish to achieve.  This would clearly tend to discard subjective ethical theories.  He also proceeds to combine Kantian deontology, or rule-based ethics, with consequentialism – (an outcome of an act should be the basis for judging the rightness of the act) - and contractualism - (what people ought to do is determined by agreements)   His synthesis of these three principles form the basis of his Triple Theory (p.412).

This theory maintains that: An act is wrong if and only if, or just when, such acts are disallowed by some principle that is 

        (1)    one of the principles whose being universal laws would make things go best,

(2)    one of the only principles whose being universal laws everyone could rationally will, and

(3)    a principle that no one could reasonably reject.

This Triple Theory according to Parfit provides the rationale for what matters, and quite a lot of what follows in this first volume is Parfit's trying to make his views comprehensible and acceptable.

Where I initially took exception was in his (Kantian?) conclusions that what matters most is survival.  Thus the ethical value of what we are and what we might become is less important than that we do become.  In chapter 12 of Part I (Universal Laws) he states: Whether our acts are right or wrong, depends on our maxims, by which Kant usually means our policies and their underlying aims.  And he quotes some of Kant’s maxims such as “Let no insult remain unavenged” or “Make lying promises when that would benefit me.” 

In fact Parfit says: “Kant’s actual formula, we have found, fails to condemn many of the acts that are most clearly wrong.   This formula does not condemn self-interested killing, injuring, coercing, lying and stealing.”

I have to confess that one of the things I found rather infuriating about this book, yet in the last analysis most reassuring, is that Parfit seemed to be making statements that were somewhat (to me) less than morally acceptable, but would then provide arguments to counter these propositions.  This, of course, was far from reprehensible, but was nevertheless infuriating to the extent that it caused me to lose the thread of the original argument.  But, as I have suggested, that is certainly down to my inability to follow an argument rather than the author’s inability to propound one.

And so to Volume 2.  That this is much longer than the first volume is partly due to the fact the first part of the book comprises commentaries on Parfit's lectures at the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 as part of the Tanner Lectures on Human Values.  These are provided by Susan Wolf, Allen Wood, and T.M. Scanlon.  It had been a condition of those lectures that these contributions be subsequently published.  To these three were added a further commentator, Barbara Herman. 

The next 120 pages are concerned with the issues raised in Volume one.  Thus Parfit's presentation of his theory on the status of ethics begins with the final part of Volume 2, Part Six of the 2 volume set, entitled Normativity.

On What Matters, not only gets the reader thinking, but leaves him or her with a lot of subsequent questions to consider from the perspective of both normative - how things should or ought to be -  and metaethical - what is good and what is bad - inquiry.

So what will its future impact be?

Well, to end at the ending . . .  On page 620 of Volume 2, Parfit writes:

“Some things, I have claimed, matter and there are better and worse ways to live.  After many thousands of years of responding to reasons in ways that helped them to survive and reproduce, human beings can now respond to other reasons . . .  

“What now matters most is that we avoid ending human history.  If there are no rational beings elsewhere, it may depend on us and our successors whether it will all be worth it, because the existence of the Universe will have been on the whole good.”


(a) Foreword to the 7th edition.

Joe Sinclair




Exploiting Childhood - (How fast food, material obsession and porn culture are creating new forms of child abuse) - Edited by Jim Wild.  Paperback.  Price £14.99.  223 pages.  ISBN No. 978-1-84905-368-6.  Jessica Kingsley Publishers.



According to Tim Lobstein, who is one of the authors contributing to this collection of essays and articles, in 1874 the English Government passed a law to protect children and young people under the age of 21 'from their own lack of experience and from the wiles of pushing tradesmen and moneylenders.' It appears that 150 years on that law is having little effect, if it still exists. This book sets out to show why we need to revisit it; our children are suffering from the effects of neo-liberal capitalism to a degree that constitutes, says editor Jim Wild, child abuse.

The bogeyman is,  of course, corporate profit, the unceasing quest for which  has used advances in technology to exploit children in numerous ways, including selling them junk food and denying them a proper childhood through welding them to violent computer games -  to give just two examples .The book is structured  in three parts: the first two focus respectively on commercial and sexual exploitation and the third on how we should respond. Most of the essays are comprehensively researched and referenced but at the same time delivered in an engaging and accessible style. 

It's a frightening and sobering read. In fact, as I read the book I found myself experiencing a variety of emotions, the chief of these being anger. I'm a fairly political sort of chap as it is, and find that the experience of living in an age of rampant neo-liberalism engenders strong emotions at the best of times and that's just thinking about myself and my peers. When I think about my own children, the children that I work with and the future that awaits them, I can feel something that oscillates scarily between rage and despair. I welcomed the emphasis throughout this book on the bigger picture; in a nutshell the thesis is that we need to widen the parameters of what we currently accept as child abuse to include the pervasive and longer term damaging effects of neo-liberal economics on human development and specifically child development. 

It is posited that this abuse is in the form of the exploitation of children for profit, such as through the sexualisation of girls' bodies, which blurs the distinction between young women and children. The chapter on Internet porn in particular makes for some stomach churning reading.  The marketing of computer based entertainment has led to a diminishing of childhood experience as children are increasingly denied the opportunity to explore their natural environment. (This is the subject of a chapter by James Hawes and this resonated particularly with me, a baby boomer whose predominant place of play as a child was the local municipal rubbish dump. Did it do me any harm? Not as much as is being done to today’s ten year olds, I’ll wager.) All contributing authors provide substantial research in support of their arguments and this is one of the attractions of the book for me working as I do in a culture that rightly demands a strong evidence base for developing practice. 

I’ll be honest – perhaps I am not the best person write a balanced review of this books. I am sure there are some smart people out there that would explain that this is alarmist nonsense and that our current obsession with consumerism is creating a better future for our children. But it is hard to believe in the face of the material that comprises this book. 

The final part of the book is entitled ‘Fighting Back’ and suggests that awareness raising among young people is key to resistance. They need to be taught how to think critically and challenge the assumptions of the day. Wasn’t Socrates locked up for saying similar things a few thousand years ago? 

Essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the future of our children and young people.

 Mark Edwards


Identity Problems in the Facebook Era by Daniel Trottier.  Paperback.  62 pages.  Price £7.99. ISBN 978-0-415-64345-0 Published by Routledge.


Routledge’s Social Issues Collection is described as “student-friendly” books aimed primarily at undergraduates.  This statement is reinforced by the fact that 20 pages of this slim 62 page book are devoted to the references and index sections.  My intention in offering a review of the book for this issue of New Nurturing Potential was based on the fact that the issue includes Social Networking as a main theme.

With this in mind, I have tried to frame my review from the perspective of the general reader.  And, although the book is not designed primarily for a general readership, it is not totally inaccessible to such a class of readers.   

Trottier’s book places its emphasis on stigma and spoiled identities online.

His very first example (Page 1) relates to the suicide of a young man whose exploration of his sexual orientation was brought to public view by the streaming of webcam content over the internet by a room-mate.

Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of (or discontent with) a person or group on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived, and serve to distinguish them, from other members of a society. Stigma may then be affixed by the greater society to any such person who differs from their cultural norms.

Stigma is not a new social problem.  Back in the 1960s, long before Facebook and other digital media emerged, stigma was defined as personal attributes that can discredit an individual.(*)

Furthermore, “digital stigma is a serious concern for users whose lives and reputations have been harmed.”  (Trottier, p.2)

The remorseless expansion of these concerns is exemplified by the following brief quotes from the book:

“When Facebook was launched in 2004, college students used the service to communicate with their peers”.  (p.3)

“Two years later it became available to the general public”.  (ibid.)

“Advertising schemes followed in 2007”. (ibid.)

“Law enforcement agencies now use it to gather” . . . “open source intelligence”. (ibid.)

“This development suggests that Facebook’s administrators deliberately repurpose users’ personal details”. (ibid.)

“Unanticipated exposure is a common outcome”. (ibid.)

"Our reputations are built and harmed on the basis of the information that we convey." (p.6)

"Social actors hide discrediting information, because they do not want to be discovered by individuals, but also by institutions or governments." (p.7) 

“The early web had a specific understanding about its role in society . . . it first emerged as a secure means for the military to relay information” (Abbate 1999 (**)) (p.10)

It was, of course, never intended to develop in this way, but the entire history of technological invention in the area of mass communication has served to demonstrate the inevitability of such development.  Thus, to paraphrase Abbate (quoted earlier by Trottier), the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth has led to the inevitable result of flexibility and diversity in organizational culture.

What has emerged, in effect, is that a great deal more takes place beneath the surface than is illustrated by the benefits being displayed on top.  And much of this derives from the users themselves, who find ways and means to adapt the network to serve their own aims.  At the end of the day, however, one is left to wonder who exactly is benefiting from this and who is being excluded.

It is salutary to recall the words of the “father of the Worldwide Web”: Tim Berners-Lee stated that “If permitted to flower freely on the basis of meritorious improvements and additions, the system can enhance and improve the lives of all peoples . . .  And so it should belong to the people.”  Consider this statement in the light of the 1996 comments of Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray (***)

The internet was designed to be a location for users to circulate information.  In April 2012, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were ranked as second, third and ninth most visited sites worldwide.  In the early days it was possible for users to share embarrassing personal details without much risk of stigma.  This is no longer possible.  It is all too easy nowadays for embarrassment and spoiled identities to leak into the public domain.  Stephen Fry, who has been an incredible anti-stigma ambassador, has spoken openly about his attempted suicide and the part played by the Internet.

Who is to blame?  Technologies, individuals, or institutions?

How does one cope with this exposure and digital stigma?  And once one “puts it out there”, it is likely to be available forever.  How can we delete our presence?

The final chapter of Trottier’s book reviews what he has expounded in the previous five chapters, starting from Erving Goffman’s work of 1963 quoted in the preface.  “Front stage performances” (i.e. the dramaturgical approach described by Goffman) “involve concealing personal details in order to avoid social embarrassment . . . Users may not fully understand the stage upon which they perform, and compromising details may be leaked to the public.”

Subsequently “the Internet’s popularity contributed to a shift in how those users interacted online” . . . “many users now rely on . . . highly visible platforms.”  [This can lead to] “the kind of stigma and social embarrassment that trouble many users in the 21st century”.

“Users’ ability to cope with digital stigma depends on their social circumstances . . . Many children have an extensive online presence as a result of their parents’ activity on sites like Facebook . . . Relationships risk being compromised by personal details found online.”

However, Trottier maintains, “if digital stigma is a social problem, it should be met with a sense of social responsibility . . . Rather than merely prescribing individual users to take responsibility for their online selves, privacy advocates and other public figures should petition for safer and more reliable communication online.”

I am sure that students in the area of media communication will find much of value in the pages of Trottier’s book.  I am not so confident about the general readership, but I hope that this short review of the book may pique the interest of the non-academic, non-didactic reader enough for them to want to know more.  I think they would find the read worthwhile.


(*)  Erving Goffman, Stigma, 1963.

According to Goffman there are three forms of social stigma

1.Overt or external deformations, such as scars, physical manifestations of anorexia nervosa, leprosy (leprosy stigma), or of a physical disability or social disability, such as obesity.

2.Deviations in personal traits, including mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, and criminal background are stigmatized in this way.

3."Tribal stigmas" are traits, imagined or real, of ethnic group, nationality, or of religion that is deemed to be a deviation from the prevailing normative ethnicity, nationality or religion.


(**) Janet Abbate, Inventing the Internet, 1996.

(***) Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, 1996 (revised 2004) 


"During the second half of the 1980s, the joys of 'surfing the net,' began to excite the interest of people beyond the professional computer-using communities [...] However, the existing computer networks were largely in government, higher education and business. They were not a free good and were not open to hobbyists or private firms that did not have access to a host computer. To fill this gap, a number of firms such as CompuServe, Prodigy, GEnie, and American Online sprang up to provide low cost network access [...] While these networks gave access to Internet for e-mail (typically on a pay-per-message basis), they did not give the ordinary citizen access to the full range of the Internet, or to the glories of gopherspace or the World Wide Web. In a country whose Constitution enshrines freedom of information, most of its citizens were effectively locked out of the library of the future. The Internet was no longer a technical issue, but a political one." (1996:298).

The revised second edition ends, somewhat ominously:
"The Internet is simply too important for its continued existence to be imperilled by an antisocial and lawless minority." (2004:279)

Joe Sinclair



A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Management Research by Emma Bell and Richard Thorpe.  Paperback.  160 pages.  Price £14.99.  ISBN: 9781446201626.  Published by Sage Publications Ltd.



What might we expect from a tiny book with an extremely long title? I believe the title ought to shine out of the ordinary, attracting extra attention, and suggest it to be an inexpensive, short and exciting book. Although the form of the book could be seen as tiny and handy, it’s in an A/5 format, and as soon as we open it the extremely small print forces the eye to focus more sharply, which is not a nice thing, especially in a work of non-fiction.

Let me continue with another question: why would anyone want to read about management research? Just to understand the methodology and learn more about practical examples? The authors spend the first sub-chapter on explaining who should read this book: students who are aiming to do management research; but it is recommended for anyone who feels the need to know more about the area or is simply interested in the process of doing management research.

The authors state that although there are a few, very good management research books in the market, one of them, indeed, that they themselves have written, this one is different: it does not offer to explain how to do management research. However, it does purport to reveal the usually hidden keys to the actual research process with practical, every day recommendations, such as how to participate in a conversation with researchers in a polite but connecting way, or how to make a start at getting involved in a research community.

The good points are that, since contemporary online and offline journals and other type of sources are recommended and briefly assessed as well, this could be a good starting point for anyone wanting to get involved in research. Another advantage of the book is its total honesty about the “bullshit culture” within the current discourse of management. It talks about playing the “buzzword bingo” to discover well known business and management buzzwords.  These are utilised a lot but without having much substance. Anyone interested, could look at it online, searching for “corporate bullshit generator”.

It was great to see that the importance of certain ethical aspects, for example the peer review, were emphasized. The critical review of a McKinsey study revealed that the lower level employees were not interviewed by the consultants, hence that particular perspective was completely missed out, resulting in a false overall picture. They also make the point about the lack of or just insufficient peer reviews, as this has got serious consequences and very dangerous for the study itself. I recall an article published by The Economist+ elaborating the current research culture, the funding scene and the shockingly low proportion of reliable research.  Just to refresh the memory: a research is reliable if the same result comes up when repeated using the same methods.  

While these points are quite useful, I would have liked to find more real life examples related to good management research, not only the classical ones (Hawthorne). The authors clarify the various reasons why the entire field of management research is so difficult and complicated, from the point of gaining access to the environment to obtaining relevant data, given its confidential, business critical nature. This is understandable. but given the authors long term involvement in research projects, it still left me with an appetite for real life research examples.



 Edit Kovacs




Enlightenment Shadows by Genevieve Lloyd.  Hardback. 192 pages.  Price £30.00.  ISBN No. 978-0-19-9669956-1 Published by Oxford University Press



I found this review unexpectedly challenging.  When I read Dr. Lloyd’s The Man of Reason some years ago I thought it would be a work on philosophy from a feminist standpoint, but found it to be mainly a feminist-based work with a philosophical background.[1]  It made nevertheless fascinating and rewarding reading. 

On this occasion I anticipated a somewhat similar experience and was misled by the size of the book into thinking it would make easy reading for review purposes.  Once again I had deluded myself.  Enlightenment Shadows is indeed a work of under 200 pages, but those pages are so wide-ranging and so full of in-depth commentary on the key texts of the major philosophical writers of the period known as the Age of Enlightenment (or sometimes the Age of Reason) that I was quickly disabused of any complacent easy-review expectation. 

But before producing my own review, I hope I may be pardoned for reproducing the words of the author herself.  In a lecture she gave before the University of Utrecht, Netherlands[2], in May 2011, while referring to the book as a “work-in-progress”, she stated that . . . [the book explores] . . . ‘the interconnection between ideas of the secular, cosmopolitanism and scepticism in eighteenth century texts . . . focusing on Montesqueiu’s fictional travelers in “Persian Letters” and on Kant’s treatment of enlightenment and the future in his political essays.  It will explore the bearing of Enlightenment ideals on contemporary understanding of tolerance. The discussion will highlight Montesquieu’s treatment of male power in relation to the organisation of female lives, with reference to contemporary debates on sexual equality framed by the idea of a “clash of civilizations”.’   

And herein may be found a clue to my dilemma in starting a review of this book with the mistaken belief that it might have been a continuation of the feminist approach of Dr. Lloyd in her earlier work.  Because the description she gave in Utrecht, of Enlightenment Shadows as a “work-in-progress”, seems to suggest that it was originally her intention to give more prominence to feminist issues such as Usbek’s description of his harem in Montesquieu’s Persian Letters.   

Usbek has left behind a harem in Persia, in which his wives are kept prisoner by eunuchs who are among his slaves. Both his wives and his slaves can be beaten, mutilated, or killed at his command, as can any outsider unfortunate enough to lay eyes on them.  An in-depth commentary on this is lacking in Lloyd’s book, although she does refer to Montesquieu’s “theme of male power over female lives” in the section entitled “Seraglios, real and imagined”.  But most of this chapter is given over to the theme of how to know oneself, and how difficult that is. The Persian Letters is a very amusing account via people’s letters of what is happening around them, with Montesquieu pointing out how difficult it is to see yourself as you really are. 

I have leapt somewhat ahead of myself here, because although Montesquieu is chronologically the beginning of the Enlightenment period with which Dr. Lloyd is concerned, she actually begins her work out of chronological sequence, in her introduction, with Kant’s definition of Enlightenment. and concludes in Chapter 7 with his Perpetual Peace written during the last decade of the 18th century.  One might perhaps infer that she considers Immanuel Kant to have been the most significant figure of the Enlightenment.   And although, if this is so, there are those who might disagree with her, no one could dispute the tremendous impact of his Aufklärung in his momentous essay What is Enlightement (1784). 

In it he states Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!”

A list of the chapters of this book, and the dates of the philosophers to which each is (mainly) devoted, provides a good illustration of how compactly the period of Enlightenment encompasses the eighteenth century, and the relative importance Dr. Lloyd attaches to each. 

Introduction – Kant on enlightenment

Chapter 1.           Montesquieu -1689-1755

Chapter 2.           Voltaire – 1694-1778

Chapter 3.           Hume -1711-1776

Chapter 4.           Adam Smith – 1723-1790

Chapter 5.           d’Alembert and Diderot – 1717-1783 and 1713-1784

Chapter 6.           Diderot

Chapter 7.           Kant – 1724-1804 

Conclusion – looking back on the Enlightenment. 

But even before the Introduction, Lloyd provides us with a lengthy prologue, in the course of which she explains the significance of the title.  The shadows are the darker elements in the thoughts of the Enlightenment.  The uncertainties and instabilities.  “It is also meant to suggest something less dark; the insubstantial presence . . . of intellectual processes which were once lively and full of hope.”  The shadow may be either benign or malign.  “The Epicurean desire to demolish superstition by the force of reason was a strong influence on Enlightenment thought.”

The Enlightenment is “notoriously a concept that lacks clear definitional boundaries”.  The readings “aim to bring into clearer focus what was distinctive in the dynamic movements of thought that went into the crafting of the texts.”  The texts themselves illustrate “the varying ways in which Enlightenment thinkers enacted . . . the interplay of intellect, emotion, and imagination.” 

The major texts and readings are (chapter by chapter) Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, Hume’s The Sceptic, Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, d’Alembert and Diderot’s The Encyclopedia, Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, and Kant’s Perpetual Peace. 

But do not be fooled by this listing of the more detailed of Dr. Lloyd’s readings into thinking that this represents the unique core of her work.  There is so much more to enjoy in every chapter, with the introduction of so many other influences, particularly in her “Conclusion” chapter and – even subsequently – in an “epilogue” to match her Prologue, in which she gives some remarkably detailed commentary on those other influences as a guide to “Further Reading” chapter by chapter. 

Of particular interest to me is her description of the writings and criticism of Hannah Arendt,[3] starting in Chapter 7, continuing in the Conclusion, and in some detail in the final section on further reading.  In Chapter 7, Lloyd discusses the lectures given by Arendt in 1970 based on Kant’s aesthetic and political writings, and in particular his Critique of Judgement.  In her Conclusion she dwells further on Arendt’s concern with judgement and specifically in the context of the Eichmann trial in Israel as revealed in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem.  And again, in her chapter on further reading, the author directs us to much of Arendt’s work and the commentaries on it by others.  This, to me, rounded off quite nicely the impression I started with, which was supported by her address to the University of Utrecht, that the idea of tolerance and feminism continues to underpin her work. 

Altogether a fascinating and elegantly written series of studies.  “Emancipation from superstition” says Lloyd in her “Looking Back on the Enlightenment” chapter, and indeed it was, with its large influence on the forces that produced both the American and the French Revolutions. it was society’s breaking away from the intellectual chains of the dark ages.

I recommend it to students of philosophy, of history, and to a general readership.


[1] Genevieve Lloyd is an Australian philosopher and feminist.  She was the first female professor of philosophy to be appointed by an Australian university, the University of New South Wales. That was in 1987.  Three years previously she had published The Man of Reason – Male and Female in Western Philosophy, conceivably her best-known work, which Lloyd has described as “an overview of the successive alignments between maleness and ideals of reason throughout the history of western philosophy.”  On retirement she was appointed Professor Emeritus. She was also Research Associate in Philosophy at Sydney’s Macquarie University.  

[2] The events with Genevieve Lloyd are part of the Centre for Humanities lecture series ‘Concerning the Postsecular’ that was initially developed together with the departments of Anthropology and of Theology at Utrecht University. The lectures offer challenging new perspectives on cosmopolitanism, global economics and social sustainability and open the debate of the postsecular condition to larger contemporary social issues about identities, belonging and cultural politics.  [Presented in May 2011]

[3] Johanna "Hannah" Arendt (1906-1975) was a German-American philosopher and political theorist.


Joe Sinclair



Improving Mental Health Care, The Global Challenge edited by Graham Thornicroft, co-editors: Mirella Ruggeri, David Goldberg.  Hard cover.  462 pages.  Price £74.99.    ISBN: 978-1-118-33797-4.  Publisher Wiley Blackwell.



The book is a collection of articles  written as a tribute to the Italian pioneer of community care for mental illness, Michele Tansella,  and provides an interesting snapshot of the current global situation with detailed discussion on some aspects of the challenges to be faced. The focus moves onto current research which can improve service delivery, including topics such as service models, treatments, prevention, early identification of conditions, and new interventions.  The final two sections cover new research methods and routes to delivering better care in the community. The writers take into account the very different environments, expertise, and funding available for mental health care in different parts of the world, and aim  to provide clear guidance on the provision of mental health care both in high- and low-income countries. 

While all the contributions are coherent in themselves, when taken together they present some contradictions. The result is a round-up of questions to be answered, rather than the answers themselves, with some contributors questioning what others seem to take for granted. One contributor even questions whether improving mental health care should take priority for funding over decreasing stigmatisation from mental illness – which would have the greatest impact on the patient’s quality of life in low-income countries?  Further debate on this topic and other controversial areas could lead to valuable practical outcomes from this book.

To give another example, one contributor shows how the inconsistent results of a randomised controlled trial (RCT)  are explained and become useful when the different local contexts of the trial groups are taken into account, others question whether RCTs can be applied at all to complex psychosocial interventions, another describes innovative statistical methods for examining trial results to counter such criticisms, and another argues that the Cochrane hierarchy of evidence used in physical medicine is inappropriate in mental health and should be revised to value qualitative research evidence.   What becomes clear, over and over, is a tension between policymakers and funders looking for broad solutions - cost-effective health systems delivering proven interventions, and health workers and patients lacking confidence in the quality of the evidence and doubting that the systems and interventions will be appropriate for their local circumstances.

In the Netherlands there was an interesting result from this tension when health insurers who fund mental health treatments wanted to introduce Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) to ensure they could identify the most cost-effective service providers. Patients, families, and patient organisations responded by identifying quality standards as a condition of their acceptance of ROM. This ensured that ROM became an integral part of treatment planning and monitoring, involving both patient and health professional. Its use for comparing service providers is less valid, as the conditions and environments in which they provide treatment are not easily comparable.

Examples of patients themselves taking an active role in their own health care are surprisingly rare in this publication, considering that encouraging this is part of EC health policy and research funding is being directed towards developing ICT support for self-monitoring.  Service user initiatives in self-management and their involvement in services and research have apparently not come to the attention of many contributors. The claim on the back cover – probably the view of the publishers, rather than the editors - that ‘their (ie. service users) voice is heard throughout the text’ is an overstatement insufficiently supported by the description of a research project based on the service user recovery concept and the inclusion of  a survivor researcher among the contributors.  What we do hear much more strongly throughout the text are research statistics, which cannot represent the views of service users and should not be confused with their voices – particularly not by policymakers.

There is a notable blank space in the snapshot of the global challenge – scarcely a mention of mental health legislation.  Nowhere is there a discussion of the possible impact of the recent United Nations Convention of Rights for People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).  Worldwide networks of mental health service users lobbied successfully to be included in this Convention, however the World Health Organisation has refused to accept that this Convention, or at least Article 14 Deprivation of Liberty, applies to people experiencing mental illness.  As UN Committees inspect the countries ratifying the Convention, it is clear that it does apply. Nevertheless the contribution describing the development and use of the World Health Organisation’s  Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS), which supports the setting up and development of mental health care systems, including legislation,  in low-and middle-income countries (LAMICS), ignores this very relevant issue which will surely play its part in shaping global mental health care in the future.

Another contribution, highlighting the value of good health professional-patient communication and describing a research project to improve professionals’ skills, identifies particular complications in mental health settings but fails to identify the professionals’ legal powers to detain or treat a patient against their will as a complicating factor in the relationship! There was a generalized agreement amongst contributors that treatment in primary care was preferred by patients, without coercive powers being identified as a possible factor in that preference.

Despite these gaps, the book covers an impressive range of topics and provides welcome updates on many research areas, as well as information about the current state-of-the-art in global mental health. As such, it is a useful reference work, although a short abstract of each contribution would be more helpful than the index, which requires the reader to remember the name of that interesting project in order to find it again.  For the non-specialist with an interest in mental health it is accessibly written and well worth reading – and will also have much to offer to specialists as well.

Some of the contributions are written from a global level and are not dependent on face-to-face contact with patients – for example looking at incidence of mental ill-health, training for primary health service personnel in developing countries, or data mining research from long-standing psychiatric registers which is now made possible by ICT advances.  Nevertheless many of the contributors show a strong understanding of the impact of mental ill-health on people’s lives, a wish to reduce that impact, and awareness of and respect for people’s rights (even though legal aspects are not discussed, as I describe above).  In other words, though you may agree or not with some of the contributors, their humanity shines through, and as such the book is a wonderful and fitting tribute to the pioneer of mental health community care, Michele Tansella.


Elizabeth Winder



The Writer's Key by Gillie Bolton.  Paperback.  168 pages.  Price £14.99.  ISBN No. 9781849054751.  Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing.



It’s inevitable, I suppose, that the more one engages in activity, the more one becomes aware of synchronicity;  that is, happenings that are in some way related to the activity in which one is currently engaged.

There seem to be more of them in my life these days than ever before.  Perhaps that’s just because I am so much older than I’ve been before, so the coincidences have more material to work with.

Anyway, the appearance of Gillie Bolton’s The Writer’s Key on the “books available for review” data emailed to me by Jessica Kingsley Publishers coincided precisely with my having produced the first draft of my new book entitled Uncultured Pearls.  The blurb pricked my interest.   I was having a bit of a tussle with different options for the re-write of my book and it occurred to me that, if I were to review The Writer’s Key, it might not only be useful for the next issue of New Nurturing Potential, but might also provide some pointers to the direction my re-writes might take.

And did it?

Well, yes and no.  Yes it has proved to be an interesting book to review.  But no, it has not given me any new ideas for resolving my writing issues.  But, I hasten to add, only because it has confirmed and validated the actions I have been taking and the alternative paths that were open to me.  In fact, it is the sort of book that would have been of inestimable help to me earlier in my writing career, and I will certainly recommend it to anyone embarking on this form of creative experience.

Writing therapy is an activity I engaged in profitably and enjoyably 50 years ago to help me develop my writing skills while simultaneously using them to work through a number of emotional disturbances.

Now although, at first glance, Gillie Bolton’s book is not overtly therapeutic, the use of writing to effect change in unhealthy or “blocked” situations does, in fact, underpin the whole of this book.  Her preface, indeed, states “Writing can . . . give us this strong refuge and power to listen to ourselves critically in order to reshape our lives.  The Writer’s Key . . . offers a way of unlocking the door.”

And her practical and stimulating style not only carries the reader along on an enthusiastic journey, but her adroit use of examples and exercises (particularly the WRITE section at the end of each chapter) positively encourages active participation.

Whether you want to write because “you want to write”; because you have words within you that simply “have to come out”, and you want to learn the best way to access them, to use them, to order them;  or because you want them to service another purpose: to cure an ill, or ease a pain, or explore a pathway, The Writer’s Key will furnish an answer – or at least an instrument that will head you towards that answer.  Gillie Bolton has also provided a variety of additional resources in her book.  I have already referred to the "WRITE" exercises at the end of each chapter.  I was also impressed with the way she has ordered her exercises and suggested activities by type in Appendix A, and by the areas of life they can help with in Appendix B.

I almost regret that I had already learned and honed my skills all those decades ago.  It would have been so exciting to have embarked on Uncultured Pearls with no predetermined agenda and to have enjoyed the coincidence of discovering The Writer’s Key at that time.  How might the poetry I wrote 65 years ago, triggered by a “broken” adolescent heart, have been altered had I done so?

In fact, when, in those far-off days, I needed to write, but didn’t know how to begin, I would simply allow my fingers to type “gibberish” in the form of random words and phrases.  Before too long a random word or phrase would trigger an idea that I could develop.  And suddenly, there it was!   A piece of creative writing would appear in one format or another.

This is so resonant with the advice Gillie gives at the end of each chapter that it was almost like looking in a mirror.

Of course, there are friends [with friends like these . . . etc.] who suggest that I might have done better to have published the gibberish and discarded the rest.  There are others who are convinced I have published the gibberish.  Whatever.  Gillie’s book, her advice, her adoption of these methods as therapy, are so reminiscent of how I myself started to write seriously 65 years ago, that I am quite astonished.

Which is where I came in!

All I can recommend is that, if you are in the situation where you could benefit from advice on writing, whether it be for literary or therapeutic advantage, read this book!

Joe Sinclair




Can I Tell You About Adoption by Anne Braff Brodzinsky, illustrated by Rosy Salaman.  Paperback.  56 pages.   Price £7.99. ISBN: 978-1-84905-942-8.  Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing.



This book is part of the 'Can I tell you about...?' series,* which are "guides for families, friends and professionals".

Chelsea is an adopted girl who wants to share her thoughts and feelings about adoption.

She has two trans-racially adopted friends who are often asked questions that make them aware of their visible differences and cause them some distress.

The three friends share how it feels to be adopted, and some of the challenges they face as they go through the stages and process of being adopted.

The illustrations will appeal to children aged 7+, for whom the book is intended as an introduction.

It is also intended to generate discussion at home, at school and for professionals working with adopted children.

At 56 pages, there is barely room to scratch the surface of such a profound and complex subject.  Although the target demographic would probably be familiar with most of the ideas presented, I think the book will be of use as either a primer or a reminder.

There is some useful information in the back of the book e.g. contact details for various agencies in the UK and the US.

* Can I Tell You About OCD / Selective Mutism / Asperger Syndrome /


Michael Mallows




Sociolinguistics - A Very Short Introduction by John Edwards.  Paperback. 143 pages.  Price £7.99.  ISBN No. 978-0-19-985861-3 Published by Oxford University Press



It may be an impertinence to quote one author while reviewing the work of another; but in the light of the relevance of the quotation to the dominant thesis of the book under review, and in my suspicion that John Edwards would support the Latin aphorism si parva licet componere magnis . . . here goes!

Commonly attributed to the Yiddish sociolinguist Max Weinreich is the adage “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy”.  And when Graham Greene wrote It’s a Battlefield he might (although he wasn’t!) have been referring to the struggle to maintain the integrity of a language against the constant encroachments of dialect.

I’ll return to this concern later in my review, but “to begin at the beginning”, sociolinguistics is concerned with the interaction of language and society.  Edwards starts his book from the premise that we learn language as a consequence of genetic preparedness.  In his first chapter, entitled Coming to Terms,  Edwards writes “Long before the modern terms now in familiar use, people were always deeply concerned about the social life of language.”   And he means that they have this concern both as individuals and as groups.

The fact is that the interaction of language and social life is a two-way street.  People tend to adjust the way they speak according to their social circumstances.  A parent will talk to a child differently from the way they will talk to another adult.  On the other hand, a person’s social situation will also affect the way that person speaks.  Later in the book, Edwards (as all sociolinguists do) concerns himself very much with the subject of dialect and its effect on changes in language.

The second chapter is entitled Variation and Change and is concerned with historical changes in pronunciation.  Edwards here makes an interesting observation of the way Queen Elizabeth’s pronunciation has subtly changed through her sixty years of Christmas broadcast messages.

In chapter three, Perception of Language, he writes of “social prejudice and stereotype” attached to “low-status speech varieties”.  Here, more than dialect, the language is being considerably influenced [I almost wrote “eroded”, but that would be my conclusion and not the author’s] by its changing multi-ethnic character.  Copula deletion and double negatives, the norm amongst the black English community, is more akin to the glottal stop and dropped initial “aitch” of Thames Estuary English than to the dialects that identify the speakers of north-east, north-west and south-west England.

In Chapter four, Edwards concerns himself with language conservationists.  Entitled Protecting Language, Edwards writes: “There has never been a shortage of amateur ‘do-gooding missionaries’ concerned with linguistic decline and decay”.

Languages great and small, the fifth chapter, is where the author tackles the question that I promised to return to in my third paragraph. “Why do some languages become more important while others diminish in importance?”  He states that “languages are components of larger cultural packages”.  And in chapter six,  Loyalty, maintenance, shift, loss and revival, he tells us that all languages and all dialects are bearers of identity: “Maintenance and revival efforts,” he concludes, [reflect] “the wish to shore up an important constituent of group identity.”

In Multilingualism, chapter seven, he wonders how to define bilingualism when “there is no adult that does not know at least foreign words and phrases, such as gracias and c’est la vie.  And Edwards clearly equates multilingualism with culture: “There is a long historical tradition . . . that an additional language or two was always an integral part of civilized life.”

His final chapter, Name, sex and religion, is a consideration of the social acceptability or danger inherent in “religious, sexual and onomastic matters”.

In checking John Edwards' biographical details on the Internet, I came across some interesting comments he had made following a one-week long lecturing visit to China, from which I extracted the following:

“I encouraged my audience to understand that many modern treatments . . . focus almost exclusively upon arguments in favour of the maintenance of small or flagging varieties.  Not an ignoble stance, to be sure, but one that is impoverished through neglect of the fuller and more Darwinian nexus in which languages mingle and rub up against one another. . .  And finally, I spoke about the longstanding urge to protect languages, to keep them free from both internal and external contamination.”

On page 12 of Sociolinguistics, John Edwards also makes reference to Darwin and states that “language families came to be understood as products and reflections of evolutionary development”.  

If I had to choose one thing only that I took from this book it is this application of the Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest to the demise and endurance of languages.   

It is axiomatic that any book published in the OUP’s excellent Very Short Introduction series will be concise but comprehensive – two words that seem at first blush to be contradictory, but are quite valid; or so my previous reviews of titles in the series have led me to believe.

John Edwards’s book has provided no exception to this belief.  Within the compass of a mere 140 pages, as beautifully produced by OUP as ever, and with a modest addition of pertinent illustrations, he has given his readers a more-then-adequate introduction to a fairly complex subject that is an excellent springboard for further study, a springboard that is enhanced by the wealth of reference material suggested at the end of the book. 


Joe Sinclair



Mindful Therapeutic Care for Children by Dr Joanna North.  Paperback.  176 pages.  Price £14.99.    ISBN: 978-1-84905-446-1   Publisher Jessica Kingsley Publishers.



This book states on the cover that it is aimed at professionals who work with children but can also be read by parents and carers. As such its target audience is diverse; there will be some for whom mindfulness is a familiar concept; for others it will be completely new. As one who probably falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum I found it a frustrating read at times and an inspirational one at others.  

Dr North's style is conversational in tone which makes this a very accessible book. However at times she does appear to verge on stating the obvious; for example, she advises when working with a  Downs Syndrome child to make allowances for slower processing.  Really? The first four chapters outline the concept of mindfulness and for me felt rather like a very long introduction. It was not until Chapter Five that the book really came into its own; as a systemic practitioner myself I found that there was plenty to reflect on in my own practice due to the questions that Dr North poses. 

 In retrospect it is what could be described as an experiential read; the sections where the author recounts elements of her own life which have helped form her views about children is particularly impressive. She follows this by inviting us to do the same; as the she says it is not so much a book about learning techniques; rather it is about learning another way of thinking about the work we do with the children in our care. 

The book is divided into chapters which have a summary at the end and there is a useful appendix on the Rights of the Child as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Dr North references many familiar names throughout the book and rightly stresses the importance of attachment theory. She has developed a useful model which she calls the Reflective Practice Pentagon which brings into the equation the wider influences of community, society and culture. As she says, this is merely a starting point, but a starting point for what could be a fascinating journey. 

Despite my initial reservations by the end of the book I felt I had learned a lot and gained some insights which I can take directly into my practice, ironic for a book which aims to avoid being a book about techniques! I would recommend it enthusiastically to professionals, parents and carers who want to understand more about themselves and the young people they work with and care for.

Mark Edwards



Leadership - A Critical Text  by Simon Western.  Paperback.  384 pages.   Price £21.99. ISBN: 9781446269909.  Published by Sage Publications.



This book is an expanded and revised edition of Simon Western’s earlier book with the same title, with a significantly extended section on ecological and environmental connection to leadership and a final chapter inviting reflection on the current situation and “Leadership in the Aftermath”. 

For a reviewer it is always reassuring, and frequently a delight, to discover a similarity of philosophy and methodology between oneself and the author of the book being reviewed. 

When I was preparing for my first public address I was given the advice (still maintained in one form or another to this day) : “Tell them what you’re going to tell them.  Tell them. Tell them what you’ve told them”.  I found a strong point of empathy between this advice and the method Western uses throughout this book.  I suspect this may derive from the style he employs very successfully in his coaching and as a university lecturer. 

Earlier in my career, when I was studying journalism, I became somewhat “besotted” with the concept of sidebars. These are sections of an article, often boxed, that may highlight or amplify the main text.  I found them a wonderful aid to comprehension.  Apparently Western shares my enthusiasm for this device.  He calls them “boxes” and has not only expanded their use throughout the book, but has given them a list of their own (46 of them) at the beginning of the book.  [“Tell them what you’re going to tell them”!

Dr Western’s first edition received much acclaim from reviewers several of whom made free with that somewhat overused (but beloved of reviewers) adjective “accessible”.  There are very few – if any – precisely suitable synonyms in the sense of “able to be easily understood”.  But, in that sense, the general layout, use of “boxes”, addition of illustrations, have all made this edition “super-accessible”.  Indeed, the author writes (p.xxi) “This second edition of the book has enabled me to restructure it in order to make the content more accessible, and to add new materials and new chapters.” 

The introduction [“Tell them what you’re going to tell them”?] expands Box 1 - a biography of the author - then describes at some length the structure of the book, providing guidance as to how the book may be used by practitioners, students and course leaders.  “At the end of each chapter”, Western writes, “are Suggested Reading and Reflection Points that can be used for an essay/assignment or exam question.  Box 2 offers a brief example of how to use this text for teaching and training.”  These examples are provided chapter by chapter. 

This might suggest that the book is intended exclusively for, or would be of interest primarily to, readers in the academic field.  But this is not so.  Dr Western inevitably uses his academic background to address the perceived needs and requirements of this audience, but he also has a diverse body of work experience upon which to draw, having worked in industry, psychotherapy, family therapy, the National Health Service, and as consultant, executive coach and company director all of which expands his potentially interested readership considerably, as well as lending authenticity to his case studies.

The book comprises two main sections.  Part One, occupying one-third of the book, is headed Deconstructing Leadership.  In this section Dr Western has set himself the task of providing a critical theoretical framework for the theory and practice of leadership that, ultimately, has the “greater aim of creating the ‘Good Society’.” 

This has set the scene for Part Two – Reconstructing Leadership – covering the greater part of the book, where he introduces his Four Discourses of Leadership. 

His thesis is that social and organisational changes in the modern world necessitate a new type of leadership.  These changes derive, amongst other causes, from the shortages of natural resources and climate change.  The Eco-leader has thus become of paramount importance.  The Eco-leader has effectively supplanted the earlier “Leader as a Messiah”; prior to whom was the “Leader as a Therapist”, who followed on from the “Leader as a Controller”. 

These are the four Discourses of Leadership that Simon Western has identified.  By discourse he means “an institutionalized way of thinking, a taken-for-granted (or normative) way of being, that is determined by language, communication and texts.” (p.150) 

Figure 8.1 (p.150) shows these four Discourses and places them in their historical context.  From 1900 to 1960 the Controller Leadership Discourse gives prominence to Efficiency and Productivity.  From 1960 to 1980 the Therapist Leadership Discourse is concerned with Relationships and Motivation.  Then from 1980 to 2000 the Messiah Leadership Discourse has a preference for Vision and Culture.  Finally, at the present time, the prominent Discourse is the Eco-Leadership with Connectivity and Ethics as the main concern.  It is to be understood that none of these Discourses supplants the others.  Each was formed during a specific period of history, but remained present although less prominent when a new dominant leadership model appeared. 

Chapters 9 through 12 of Part Two describe the four Discourses in detail and each ends with a case study that puts the Discourse clearly into context.  Chapter 9 covers the Controller Leadership Discourse, defined as controlling resources to maximize efficiency.  The boxed case study  (Box 18) concerns public sector modernization in the National Health Service. “In the public sector,” Western writes, “the Controller discourse re-emerged with a vengeance in the 1990s as the modernization of services meant a transfer of power and control from clinicians to managers and other experts.” (p.176) 

The Therapist Leadership Discourse at Chapter 10 is exemplified by the phrase “Happy workers are more productive workers”. This derived from the humanistic movement.  Western singles out Abraham Maslow whose "work was formative and popular, leading to research in participative and democratic leadership to improve worker motivation".   (p.194)  Sadly he does not mention Carl Rogers, my personal "hero" of the movement.  But this is a totally subjective reaction on my part.  The case study (Box 25) draws on Dr Western’s own experience of working in a multidisciplinary child and adolescent mental health team.   The Leader as Therapist is still much in evidence today and, indeed, humanistic approaches such as client-centred (Carl Rogers), Abraham Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs) and the psychodynamic approach of the neo-Freudians are still very much a part of leaders' tool-chests for job enhancement and team-building activities.

The Messiah Leadership Discourse exemplified as “Visionary leaders and strong cultures” are described as “charismatic figures [who] organise the workplace with flattened structures, utilizing culture control to influence employees”.  (p.217)  The case study is again based on the author’s personal experience of consultancy work for a multinational fashion retailer and is based on “my observations and the insights I gained during this work”.  Elsewhere, Dr Western has stated: "As the workplace rises in importance as a site of community, replacing institutions such as the church and family, so the corporate leader replaces the priesthood as a social character of influence (Steve Jobs for example)" (1)

The Eco-Leadership Discourse (Connectivity and ethics) inevitably assumes great importance in this work.  Western writes: “I named this discourse Eco-leadership to reflect the growing use of environmental and network metaphors in the leadership literature.  Eco-leadership is becoming the most important leadership discourse for our times, although it is not yet the dominant discourse.” (p.244) 

Western has provided an Epilogue entitled Leadership in the Aftermath.  The aftermath of which Western writes is actually two aftermaths, “one immediate and the other slowly unfolding.  The first is the financial crisis and its spreading impact . . . the second is the aftermath of modernity itself.” (p.324) 

The financial crisis to which the writer refers is that which began in 2008 and spread with shocking rapidity.  This reinforced the notion that we live in interdependent ecosystems.  “Messiah leaders, rewarded in millions to run our financial institutions and global corporations, had completely failed us.  Political leaders too had ignored the warnings.” (p.324) 

It was Eco-leadership approaches that were lacking.  21st century needs were ignored in favour of 20th century leadership approaches.  “New leadership responses must reflect and respond to our times; we live in a networked society and therefore networked leadership is required.  We live in a time of environmental crisis and with limited natural resources, and therefore Eco-leadership that attends to ethics and sustainability is necessary”. (p.329) 

He has written elsewhere:  "Eco-Leadership is not just about the environment, it’s about leading organizations successfully, recognizing that the world has changed and that the demands of a networked society also demand new leadership. . . 

"Eco-leadership means re-negotiating what success means for an organization or company. Delivering growth and short-term shareholder value is no longer acceptable as the sole measurement of success if we are to act ethically and responsibly. . .

"In fact, it is not possible to continue on the path of unlimited growth and consumption as we are reaching environmental limits: to survive we must change."  (1)

After referring to the “personal catastrophe [that] occurred in my life between these two editions”, Dr Western concludes his book with a statement that the way to carry on is . . .   “if we remain open to the whole of our experience, to engage with grief, sadness, loss, love, joy and beauty.  What has this got to do with leadership?  Everything.”  

I found it provocative and instructive.  But I suspect that I enjoyed it equally as much not just because I agreed with what Dr Western wrote, as because I felt he seemed to agree with me. 

(1)  Integral Leadership Review, August-November 2013


Joe Sinclair



No One's World by Charles A. Kupchan.  Paperback.  258 pages.  ISBN 978-0-19-932522-1.  Price £12.99.  Published by Oxford University Press.



In my article in the business section of the last issue of New Nurturing Potential* it was my intention  to point out how neo-dependency theory was being demonstrated and supported by United States' policy and activity in Latin America, and China's behaviour similarly in Africa.

I wrote that “Subsequent developments and my own consequent research had turned that belief on its head”.  American influence in Latin America had waned, while China’s major sphere of influence has expanded to include Latin America in addition to Africa, politically, socially and economically.

Now here comes Charles A.  Kupchan with a thesis that, if true, will once again set my beliefs on their head.  Although he starts off from the same historical perspective: the dominance of the West and the more recent ascendency of countries such as China, India and Brazil, his thesis is that the world will ultimately belong to no one country or group of countries, but will be “No One’s World”.  A world that is totally interdependent, that Kupchan describes as the global turn.

During the Middle Ages the “world’s centre of power moved from Asia and the Mediterranean Basin to Europe and, by the end of the nineteenth century, North America.”  There were unique historical reasons for this, with economic development being driven by the scientific and industrial revolutions, while religious and political liberalism allowed freedom of development and growth that was denied to the peoples of the Ottoman Empire, China, Japan and India.  Britain assumed world leadership until after the First and, particularly, the Second World War, when the mantle of leadership was transferred to the United States.   The Soviet Union competed for this title until the collapse of communism and the fragmentation of the Russian empire.

Kupchan has written: “Due to its sluggish politics, energy-centric economy, and continuing population decline," [my italics] "Russia, in contrast with China, is not poised to offer the world a business model that others will rush to emulate,” (p.110) – although it “may be uniquely poised to help build bridges between the Western order and whatever comes next.” (p.111)

And what is most interesting about this is his perceived demographics, particularly the effect of the reducing populations in, for example, Russia and China. 

But history is now moving on. “East Asia has been anointed as the candidate most likely to assume the mantle of leadership.  It is doubtful, however, that any country, region, or model will dominate the next world.  The twenty-first century will not be America’s, China’s, Asia’s, or anyone else’s; it will belong to no one.” (p.3)

The author says that his book has two goals.  The first is to explain the causes and the consequences of the coming global turn; the second how the West should prepare for and adjust to the world of the 21st century.  He also makes the case for the need of the West to recover its economic and political vitality if it is to survive the global turn.  This vision for survival is set out in his final chapter.

Before this happens, and somewhat reassuringly, albeit temporarily, supporting the points I made in my neo-dependency article, he forecasts (Chapter 4) that China will overtake the United States to become the world’s largest economy, having already surpassed Japan to become number two.  But, moving on from that, he suggests that “rising states, rather than taking the Western way, will follow their own developmental paths and embrace their own views about domestic governance and how best to organise the international system of the twenty-first century.” (p.87)

By the strangest of coincidences, during the typing of these words, I happened to spot a news item relating to China.  On November 15, 2013, the BBC news service announced: “China is to relax its policy of restricting most couples to having only a single child, according to state media.  In future, families will be allowed two children if one parent is an only child, the Xinhua news agency reported.”

So, one can’t help wondering - if this relaxation is sufficient stimulus to the Chinese to start doubling their family size - will this reverse Kupchan’s theory and restore China to the position of number one contender for the title?  Actually it seems doubtful.

For while Kupchan’s book propounds a very interesting theory, that is really all it is: a theory.  It describes a line of development that, if maintained, would possibly result in his conclusions.  But, as history has shown time and again, lines of development have a habit of changing course as a consequence of shifts of attitude, responses to challenges, or the impact of unexpected new ideas or personalities.  Demographics are influential, but not exclusively so.

The feeling I was left with after finishing the book was one of disappointment.  Kupchan’s “second goal” didn’t do it for me.  I felt I had enjoyed an excellent first course (his introduction) setting out an interesting thesis, and main course (his historical analysis), that presented a quite masterly description of the way the West had achieved its supremacy and the rest of the world had failed to keep up.  But I wished I had skipped the dessert.  The trouble was the first two courses didn’t “fill me up”, and the final course failed to “plug the gap”.

 *Dependency Theory reconsidered


Terry Goodwin



50 Great Myths About Atheism by Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk.  Paperback.  288 pages.   ISBN: 978-0-470-67405-5.  Price £14.99.  Published by Wiley-Blackwell.


A lot of tommy rot is talked about atheism, generally by people who have not taken any time or trouble to find out what atheism really is.  This should not surprise us, since “believers” habitually fail to study their own religious concepts and beliefs, mainly having been born into a faith and adopting it by default.  Accordingly, since they can’t be bothered to study what they themselves believe in (or profess to believe in), how much less incentive must they have to learn about what others may believe in?  And how much easier it is in the case of what they consider to be a “non-belief” to simply discount and disparage it.

But atheists, for the most part, have not been “born into atheism”, but have taken the time and trouble to think it out for themselves.  In that respect, if in no other, an atheist is more of a believer than the great majority of those who proclaim themselves as members of one faith or another.  Belief, said Blaise Pascal, is a wise wager.  Just in case there really is a deity who may control our destiny, why not hedge our bets?  But if we’re going to think about it, I like what Stephen Roberts says in his Wildlink website “I contend that we are both atheists.  I just believe in one less god than you.  When you understand why you dismiss all the other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk, two academics from, respectively, Australian and Canadian universities, have collated a host of beliefs about atheism that are not based upon scientific evidence, but “old wives’ tales”.  I don’t know why they have chosen the fifty, other than it's a nice round number, but I found several of these “myths” to be somewhat thin in content.  They might as well have been omitted from the book without any noticeable loss of efficacy, but that’s a very minor quibble.  At least they have a great Google niche alongside 50 Great Curries of India, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, 50 Great Movies and 50 Great Cities to Visit in America.

But, for the approach to and description of the myths themselves, I have nothing but praise.

“Attacks on atheism” say the authors in their introduction “are often driven by strong emotions.”  And then quote an old saying that “a falsehood repeated often enough will eventually be taken as truth”

A very useful and interesting history, the final chapter entitled “The Rise of Modern Atheism”, occupies the better part of 50 pages.  The Introduction to the book states that this final chapter “does not claim to defeat theism once and for all”, but allows the authors to be more opinionated, having debunked a chunk of popular myths, and to “convey the reasonableness of atheism and suggest the problems with religious alternatives.”

I enjoyed the history, but question the validity of the last myth (No. 50) “Atheism is doomed in a post-secular age” which, to my mind, is more a conjectural analysis of where atheism may be headed rather than a revelation of a falsehood that has spread from the past.  But perhaps they were short of the final myth to reach the magical 50.  (Okay, so that’s just another minor cavil, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek!)

Certainly the other 49 myths, starting with “Atheism is just another type of religion”, although varied in their appeal, are quite valid in their relevancy.  Here are a few chosen at random: Atheists are intolerant, Atheists don’t understand the nature of faith, Evolutionary theory is a form of atheistic religion, Atheists turn to god when death is near, Atheists want to ban teaching religion to children.

The authors’ treatment of these statements wanders far afield from  simple answers, to encompass history, sociology, science, theology and jurisprudence – amongst others – making this a didactic read regardless of its relevance to the truth about atheism.  Furthermore they have enlivened the pages with a number of splendid Jesus and Mo cartoons from the pseudonymous Mohammed Jones.

An excellent final 30 pages encompasses a list of International Atheist and Related Organisations, an extensive reference section, and an impressively comprehensive index.  The reference section could, in fact, be used as an alphabetical guide to historical and present day atheists – from Epicurus to Dawkins.  But, of course, not all the people referenced are atheists.   If, however, you would like to see a list of acknowledged atheists, while retaining the “50-great” motif, you might try, but be warned: these are not "the most brilliant", despite the nomenclature; just "some of the more interesting".  Nevertheless, a nice eclectic mix.

Even though I may have revealed a slightly lukewarm reaction to some aspects of this book, and some minor criticisms, my overall conclusion is favourable.  I recommend it as useful reading both to those who are freethinkers (whatever they call themselves, be it atheists, agnostics or secularists) and to "believers", particularly the hard-core religious ones, though it might prove "heavy-going" for them at times, and they are unlikely to be able to suspend belief and permit scepticism to intrude into their "blind faith".  On the other hand, I suppose they might just enjoy the light-hearted cartoons.  No.  Scrub that.  My experience of "people of faith" suggests they are more likely to be offended than amused.


Sep Meyer




Cyberbullying and E-Safety, What Educators and Other Professionals Need to Know - by Adrienne Katz.  256 pages.  Paperback.  Price £18.99.  ISBN: 978-1-84905-276-4.  Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


This book offers a wealth of information, statistics (some very alarming), case studies, and issues that need to be addressed - some people consider that cyberbullying is the single biggest issue currently facing those who are determined to challenge bullying in the 21st Century.

That we can be logged on/ online 24/7 means that youngsters can be 'got at' any time of the day or night, and that it's easier for the bullies to hide their true identity, for example by borrowing or stealing a phone and using it to send texts, images, threats either to a specific target, or broadcast to all their 'friends' or cronies.

The 250 pages are an excellent resource that will be of considerable benefit to social workers, teachers, youth workers, and all those working with young people who are concerned about the terrible, and oft-times lethal impact of bullying in general, and, in particular, the pernicious and pervasive risks of cyberbullying.  

The author's prodigious research draws on a survey of over 9,000 children and teenagers.  The perceptions and experiences are described of those young people who are adjusting to a world where new and powerful technologies require radically different and relevant responses to e-safety and cyberbullying.

The author's response to the problem of cyberbullying is a youth-led, age- and gender-appropriate model for cyber-education in a changing world.

Adrienne Katz was previously a regional advisor for the Anti-Bullying Alliance, and helped to develop guidance on bullying of pupils with special educational needs for the UK Government.  

Topics covered include:

The kinds of bullying young people experience,

Meeting the needs of both boys and girls,

Meeting the needs of the most vulnerable students,

Cyberbullying: Prevention and response,

Presenting a New three tier structure,

Protecting teachers and staff.

There are more than 50 pages of useful tools:
Example of an acceptable Use Policy,

E-safety risks,

Strategies to minimise risks,

Recording a Cyberbullying incident,


Various lesson plans,

Curriculum links

Cases to use in Staff Training sessions,

Staff training needs questionnaire (adaptable)

Communication tools for children with special needs. 

And a great deal more!

I highly recommend this book!

Michael Mallows




Cosmopolitanism - Uses of the Idea,  by Zlatko Skrbis and Ian Woodward.  Paperback.  152 pages.  Price £22.99.  ISBN 9781849200646.  Published by Sage Publications.


It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who has not come across the concept of cosmopolitanism;  but what does it actually mean? The word itself comes from Greek: cosmos as the world and polites as citizen: citizen of the world. Wikipedia defines it as an ideology, where all human beings belong to the same community, based on a shared morality. In my mind, cosmopolitanism is everything that involves modern migration, cultural diversity, humanity and tolerance. While these modern concepts are correctly associated with it, this book offers a wide overview of the current theories, results of empirical research and every day examples.

The authors, Zlatko Skrbis and Ian Woodward are both from the academic field of Sociology in Australia and their research is mostly focused on connecting mobility, hospitality, technology and community with the classical social theory and cultural sociology.

The book is divided into eight chapters, and each of them explores a dimension of the concept and the relevant research and theory. The presented examples help to make it less difficult to understand and analyse the concept. Cosmopolitanism is a continuously evolving process, it cannot be approached as an end result which might “save the world”, but rather as a project which may well improve it, the authors say. We need to think of small, ordinary things where cosmopolitanism manifests itself.

What is understood by cosmopolitanism in the social science discourse? The authors agree that it often implies openness, inclusiveness, respect and freedom. The idea of cosmopolitanism is that we are open to new experiences, people or places and actively engaging with its effect on us. To engage with the new things, we also need a set of cultural competencies. Putting it simply, it helps us to understand the world and get along better in it.

The authors emphasize the lack of exclusivity or the absolute, in that every person and social pattern is different, just as every situation or culture is different and needs to be appreciated just as it is.

The beginning of the book walks us through the historical background of cosmopolitanism and explores its four dimensions: the cultural, political, ethical and methodological ones. The history started with Diogenes’s “citizen of the world” concept and later in the book Hegel, Kant, Derrida, Bourdieu, Arendt, Rorty and Simmel are also referred to. This is followed by current cultural approaches: “disposition of openness to the world”, letting go of one’s unique cultural identity. The ethical dimension goes back to the hospitality towards strangers and it’s discussed through current humanity and refugee issues and the debates on the veil in Western societies.

Where to find the manifestation of this concept? The authors say, most likely in food markets, open spaces in towns just like the ancient market place, airports, rail terminals and cultural festivals are all where likeminded, open and curious people tend to cross paths. Anyone familiar with the hospitality exchange and social networking services of the Couchsurfing initiative, will understand that being interested in other cultures, people and their hospitality make up the core concept of cosmopolitanism.

The mediated cosmopolitanism, as much as the media, television, music or art, conveys various forms of cosmopolitanism and it could encourage and nurture it, as it did in the case of the “Occupy the Wall Street” initiative or the events of the Arab spring of 2011.

Finally, the book is well written, clear and concise, demonstrating clear directions and plenty of social scientists’ accounts, but not hiding problem points and the limitations of the evolving processes of the global society. The book also refers to current, global encounters from the tragedy of Rwanda to the Western habit of “transnational adoptions of children”. It is clear that more research is needed with non-Western societies and working class people. According to their research evidence, it is accepted that the cosmopolitan discourse and disposition might lead to the increased level of tolerance and openness, which will make the world a better place.


Edit Kovacs




A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning by Ray Jackendoff.  Hardback.  288 pages.  ISBN 978-0-19-969320-7.  Price £16.99.  Published by Oxford University Press.



I ended my interim review of this book in Issue No. 6 of Potential Unleashed with the following statement: "The intention  behind this interim review is merely to provide an overview of what is to follow.  I also stated that it “seemed designed to appeal to a general readership much more than to the erudite, didactive audience of the author’s previous tomes on the complexities of language”.  I even suggested that its somewhat simplistic style was more akin to Edward de Bono than that of Jackendoff.

So, how has that first impression fared after further reading?

Well, it has not modified my initial appraisal other than to actually endorse and enhance it.  It does indeed seem to be a book intended to appeal to the “dilletante” rather than the erudite student of his subject.  But the subject is not simply linguistics or even sociolinguistics, but ranges far and wide through the entire interdisciplinary domain of cognitive science.  And far from making the book unwelcoming and complicated, I found this actually enticing.

It did, however, suggest that there may have been an ambivalence in Jackendoff’s  intended outcome.  On the one hand his pronounced intention, according to the Foreword, was to write “in a fashion that I hope will be accessible to anyone curious about thought and meaning. I trust that the specialists can forgive the informality . . . “   He chose to do this, he says, because “if I’d tried to write it as a traditional scholarly treatise, it would have been a thousand pages long.”  But the intended accessibility later gets mired in those aspects of the study that simply do not lend themselves easily to this kind of informal treatment.

Nevertheless, a hearty pat on his back for trying.  He’s had one or two brickbats thrown by critics, so I think a bouquet or two from me will not be amiss.  “If you haven’t given up on me by now, let me see if I can put this all together.” (p. 149) – Hardly the sort of statement one would anticipate from a leading academic;  but certainly effective for attracting the “average” reader (whoever that may be).  What the French might describe as attirant.

And, on the same page, and in a similar vein, we find “I’m imagining that some readers won’t find this rhetorical tack very satisfying.  I submit that no other approaches – aside from complacently throwing science and philosophy out the window – are very satisfying either.”

Then, in the final chapter, he writes: “Let me try to tie this all together. One thing I’ve been trying to develop here, over these many tortuous chapters, is a better understanding of the distinction between rational thinking and intuitive thinking . . .

"What we experience as rational thinking consists of thoughts linked to language. The thoughts themselves aren't conscious. Rather, what's conscious is the "handles" of pronunciation that are linked to the thoughts, plus some character tags that lend the pronunciation a sense of meaningfulness and conviction. And the conscious sense that one sentence logically follows from another--that your reasoning is rational--is itself an intuitive judgment. So rational thought isn't an alternative to intuitive thought--rather, it rides on a foundation of intuitive thought." (p. 243)

But what about the meat (or quorn if you find that more to your taste) sandwiched between these two wrappers.

Well, for now I actually propose to skip over much of Part II of this book, which some consider to be the "core" of his work.  This is the section dealing with the Uncommon Meaning Hypothesis and, to my mind, is the content that Jackendoff has found it most difficult to treat  in "an informal fashion".  So, the review will now be completed in the full Book Review section of New Nurturing Potential which will appear at the end of December 2013.  The publishers are getting a lot for their "money".  But, hey, that's the way it  crumbles sometimes, cookie-wise.  (The informality is apparently contagious.)

In the course of his peregrinations, he has touched on such diverse matters as optical illusions that he employs to demonstrate his sections on perspectives and the differences between cognitive, neural, and ordinary perspective.  He invokes Wittgenstein’s ruminations on the duck-rabbit illusion as a “visual surface” and concludes that “the fact that the same visual surface can be linked to two ways of understanding it shows that the mind is adding something to what the eyes alone provide”. (p.115)


Necker Cube





 [I must say that some of the diagrams Jackendoff has used to illustrate his theses and to encourage reader-participation have re-stimulated my earlier comparison with Edward de Bono.  But this, of course, is only superficial.]

In the first two illustrations, Jackendoff has used optical illusions to demonstrate how our brains may be confused when offered two options for the interpretation of visual inputs. The other illusions are intended to demonstrate how our brains will deal with seemingly illogical considerations - "any small part makes sense, but you can't put all the parts together". (p.118)

Earlier, in his discussion of perspectives, he describes the different types of perspective that relate to the study of language, thought and meaning.  He distinguishes between the ordinary perspective, the cognitive perspective and the neural perspective.  "It's also common", he says, "for linguists to shift freely among perspectives . . .  This is what I did . . . when I moved to the cognitive perspective in order to explain certain properties of the ordinary perspective, such as how languages change over time."  (p. 16)  But this seems to be something he does regularly which is, perhaps, a little surprising from one who has a reverence for Noam Chomsky.  Indeed, in a footnote (p.15) relating to Chomsky, he writes "In the cognitive perspective, the system that constitutes English actually has a number of layers because it draws on everything else going on in the head.  So we can ask: How much of what governs our speaking English is due to English specifically, or to language more generally?"

As I commented earlier, the core of Jackendoff's arguments are based on his hypothesis that thought and meaning are effectively unconscious.  Consideration of the Unconscious Meaning Hypothesis was reserved for this final, detailed review.

Jackendoff, in the relevant section of this book (from Chapter 16, p.87), checks out the idea of hidden meanings, first expressed in Chapter 9.  Is there such a thing as REAL MEANING?  A problem that confronted me - in fact it suggested why I had found it difficult on first reading to review this area in my initial review - was that I couldn't establish to my entire satisfaction that Jackendoff had provided an answer to this question.  I felt I came close to it in the section beginning "The Unconscious Meaning Hypothesis says the meaning is an unconscious piece of mental structure . . . " (p.88) and then, later, "How can I know what I think until I see what I say?"   Or, further, "What about when you say 'the thought came to me in a flash'?" 

"In all these situations, meaning is formless unless it is connected to imaged pronunciation".  This is an interesting observation (p.89) and is then followed by what I found to be a fascinating diversion into how it might be for people who speak no language, such as congenitally deaf people; and the use of signage.  His point seems to be that it is the words themselves that contain the meaning; that is, there is no meaning outside the words, any further meaning is unconscious and that only the pronunciation is the conscious aspect of our thought.

It would seem to be what NLP'ers refer to as "internal auditory dialogue".4  The thing is, however, that the brain stores things in many other ways, depending upon which representational system is favoured, be it pictures, smells, feelings, etc.  And Jackendoff does not take this into account. 

The Unconscious Meaning Hypothesis is thus asking us to consider what is the precise form in which we can experience meaning?  What is the precise connection between thought and meaning?  And the fact that I felt I had been left without an answer is possibly the result of a failure by Jackendoff to suggest any alternatives to his postulates.

It is in these complicated and somewhat abstruse arguments that I felt closer to the old, recognisable and welcome Jackendoff of his earlier works.  The mental stimulation was enjoyable, but I somewhat perversely found myself missing the more light-hearted treatment elsewhere in the book.

So, having postponed consideration of this "core" of Jackendoff's work to this final review section, I now find myself unable to provide a fully satisfying (to myself!) review without going back once more and re-reading this section. 

Perhaps this isn't such a bad thing!  If it were going to be that "simple", you would not need to buy and read the book for yourselves.  You might be satisfied with my rather superficial comments on it.  Now, perhaps, you will be encouraged to buy the book and find out for yourselves.  And the publisher might be encouraged to provide me with further exciting material for review!

4  "An inner voice located in the auditory system whereby we talk things over with ourselves internally, rehearsing arguments, running through responses, etc." [An ABC of NLP by Joseph Sinclair, ASPEN 1992.]


Joe Sinclair




Continuation of Stephen Bray's review of Stillness in a Mobile World

China's Beilun Port, near the city of Ningbo, China is described as being like 'lonely canyons of buildings in a city's finance district', yet it is not buildings that create this impression but containers stacked in grid like patterns. From this metaphor Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter, in their essay 'Still waiting, still moving: On labour, logistics and maritime industries' explore the relationships between logistics, commerce, information, capital and movement. Quoting Foucault, who wrote that 'the ship is the heterotopia par excellence', and 'In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates', Neilson and Rossiter note that 'capitalist globalization instead creates a single global order and constantly divides it through multiple and shifting practices of bordering.' Ships move between such borders. As 'spaces' their crews are subject the military like discipline traditional of maritime life. The development of flags of convenience has done much to ensure that a sailor's existence remains restricted, being as it is largely regulated by ships' captains rather than responsible boards of safety. Inevitably delays occur, even though logistics software is employed to ensure optimum supply for demand. Indeed such computer aided calculations sometimes means that rather than racing home to port, as did the tea-clippers of old, today's container ships frequently steam slowly, and in this way can save 5 to 7 percent of total operating costs, even though their crews have to be paid throughout time consuming voyages.

Neilson and Rossiter take issue with Foucault's claim that a ship is a heterotopia . They write: 'The conditions of work at sea are caught in a game of evasion and control. . . . The pirate waits for shifts in the horizon of possibility. The software application waits to load. Change happens. But the figure is waiting, like that of stillness, does not imply a movement beyond history or narrative. It exists at the point where the ordering of that which passes crosses the passing of that which orders. Logistics, itself, we might conclude, is an ordering technology that itself will pass or at least be remade on a temporal horizon.' The essay seeks to throw light on how tensions within the lives of real people, including stories of labour power, have roles in the crossings of ordering and passage.

The idea of movement as distraction is highlighted by a chapter titled 'The productivity of stillness: composure and the scholarly habitus', written by Megan Watkins and Greg Noble. I enjoyed reading about their research into the behaviours of children in the Australian classroom. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that children from Asian backgrounds tended to learn seemingly passively and quietly whilst children from other places were more distracted, but easier to engage in active learning methods. At first reading, you might think that this indicates a poverty of experience within the Asian students, but the research showed that these children engaged with stillness actively, for example, they might take out a book and read in the absence of a class teacher, whereas 'Westernised' kids would create disturbance and use this opportunity to exercise 'free-will' unproductively. The researchers suggest that this is why, perhaps, such 'passive' children tend to do better at maths and science than western counterparts. This may be a component, but one must also be mindful of a suggestion by Malcolm Gladwell,2 (in his book Outliers: The Story of Success), who notes that Asian languages used by those who once farmed rice paddies has a more efficient numerical vocabulary than European based languages. The words for each number are shorter. The syntax is more descriptive and when strung together in sentences the language itself virtually creates the answer to many basic calculations. Gladwell is, of course, a journalist and entertaining writer, who doesn't labour us by quoting Foucault at every opportunity - a too common feature of serious writing from Australia and New Zealand since the 1990s. Rice paddies are small, labour intensive, areas. Within them people would be active in their labour, but relatively still in terms of overall mobility.

In this sense, they perhaps these farmers share something with airports - those portals to social mobility in which, for a few hours, we are apt to find ourselves confined. Ross Hartley, in a section called 'Airportals: the functional significance of stillness in the Junkspace of airports', creates a 'photo-essay' about how we live for these strange waiting times before departure. 'Junkspace' is a term coined by Rem Koolhaas. It refers to 'the colossal mechanical residue that man leaves upon the planet, the utilitarian apotheosis or meltdown of modern architecture.'

The point of the essay seems to be that we enter airports looking forward to travel, but once checked in must wait patiently until our aircraft is ready for departure. The space we live in during those hours provides opportunities for others to advertise, and sell us merchandise, and this, together with information conveyed to us on T.V. screens about the gates and times of our departure, provide us with an illusion that we are not really imprisoned within the airport machine. Like all prisoners, however, we are forced into immobility - which in this essay is equated with stillness. The airport, despite these distractions, ultimately prepares us for flight. The experience of 'junkspace' is designed to tire us, and make us more passive. It's air is artificially circulated, it's seating sterile, the smells and architecture divorced from organic reality.

The chapter contrasts markedly from 'The orchestration of feeling: stillness, spirituality and places of retreat', written by David Conradson. He went to visit two religious retreat houses in the U.K., one Buddhist, the other Christian - although he didn't take part in a Christian retreat - opting instead to learn the psychological technique known as focusing. There using a combination of interviews and participant observation he comes to the conclusion that: 'As an affective state, the emergence of stillness was . . . facilitated by the general environs, by the teaching and support . . . received, and the personal engagement with meditative practices." He notes that despite all these structures not everyone found the experience easy, but that on balance such practices must be a positive in our troubled world.

One problem I have with Conradson's 'Orchestration of feeling . . .' is the impression that he is inexperienced at attending retreats. Does attendance at two, seemingly, different events of relatively short duration qualify someone, even if academically gifted, to draw helpful conclusions about their usefulness? Someone who had completed 1000 hours thus, and who concluded that they were valuable, or entirely wasted time, would be far more use than Conradson, who in my opinion damns the experiences with faint praise. I would like to see him return, do his time, and then be marooned in one of Hartley's airports for several hours and let him report if his experiences in retreats had helped still himself in junkspace. The reason I write thus is because if a retreat is, as some of the participants in the study suggest, a contraposition to their stressful lives, then retreats must be seen as simply remedial, rather than a more general training in the ability to remain focused and productively 'still' within contemporary living.

During World War II city dwellers frequently reported periods of stillness, according to Peter Adey in his short paper: 'The private life of an air raid; Mobility, stillness, affect'. These periods are described by him as: 'periods of time-space, which were slowed and even stopped.' His examples, however, are not simply about retreating into catatonic inertia, but rather 'being finely tuned to the exterior.' Drawing from archived material from The Imperial War Museum and the Mass Observation wartime reports, Adey suggests stillness under bombardment is a complex phenomenon. One report stated: 'It is the siren or the whistle or the explosion or the drone - these are the things that terrify.' Adey writes: "Perched on the edge of devastation, space-times are felt through a sense of impending doom. . . . Stillness was forged through a body readied in advance of the violence these materialists signified. . . . The end of stillness was usually marked by a reactionary 'flinch', 'start' or 'jump'."

Reading this I was reminded of the opening chapter in Professor Eugen Herrigel's 'The Method of Zen'3. In it Herrigel describes how whilst having tea in a restaurant on the fifth floor of a hotel with a Japanese colleague 'a low rumbling was heard and a gentle swaying (felt) underfoot'. Europeans jumped up in alarm rushing for the corridor and stairs, but Herrigel's colleague continued to sit unmoved, hands folded, eyes nearly closed. Herrigel writes: 'When the earthquake was over - it was said to have lasted a fairly long time - he [the colleague] continued the conversation at the exact point where he had broken off, without wasting a single word on what had happened.'

At first sight the kind of stillness described by Herrigel appears markedly different from that described in Adey's chapter on air raids, but there is a place in the chapter which is illuminating. Adey writes: 'A shell explosion could create such intensities of stillness that a sudden and distinctive lessening of the person and world are expressed . . . As if the blast victim had sucked all the animation from their agency, recollections convey passivity and paradoxically a much more heightened and contemplative sense of the moment'.

Perhaps advanced meditators who voluntarily surrender physical movement, let their thoughts drop away and with those thoughts their ego, actively becoming one with their environment, also share something with those who experience a blast and have 'the animation sucked from their sense of agency'?

Another paper in the book refers back to the second world war. In 'Moving encounters: The affective mobilities of photography Debbie Lisle explains how pictures move us both emotionally, and physically within the context of a photograph made by U.S. marine Sergeant Paul Dorsey, and curated by Edward Steichen in the 'Power in the Pacific' exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1945.

Debbie Lisle tells us of finding this image of a Japanese prisoner of war looking composed and present after some pictures of those of corpses, burning and destruction. The photograph takes her by surprise, contained as it is within images assured to reinforce notions of American might and patriotism. What initially fascinated Lisle was 'the prisoner's refusal to obey the trope of abjection so readily assumed by other Japanese POWs', in such circumstances. . .. 'My initial reading required that gaze to signify resistance and defiance; in other words, it immediately disciplined the polysemic nature of the photograph itself and reduced all possible connotations into a single signification. But the blankness of the POW's stare is much more ambivalent than such a reading allows. In fact it unclear whether he is angry, weary, bored, insane, or none of the above. Such ambivalence produces complex multiple and contradictory sensations in the viewer: we are taken aback? Sympathetic? Angered? Surprised? Puzzled? My immediate visceral sensations of anxiety and unease were very quickly alleviated by transforming them into a settled interpretation: the POW's gaze is defiant in the face of American aggression', she writes.

Lisle then expands her thesis by making reference to Susan Sontag's polemic book of essays 'On Photography'. In this work, Sontag examines, along with other ideas, how photography has an ability to make reality stand still. Lisle recognises that this concept runs contrary to that espoused by John Berger who argues: 'an instant photographed can only acquire meaning insofar as the viewer can read into it a duration extending beyond itself. When we are finding a photograph meaningful we are lending it a past and future.'

But isn't this exactly the problem with Paul Dorsey's image of the Japanese prisoner of war to which Lisle refers? Not only does the man come from a different culture, and one likely to make war-weary Americans wary, he also looks directly into the camera with a Mona Lisa like stare. As when looking at the painting of the Mona Lisa what we see is not simply a portrait but also the reflection of our own insecurities, because none may be found in the face that stares back at us.

Lisle then references a number of sources in support of the idea that even if not moved emotionally by images a number of changes occur physically below our levels of conscious awareness. She concludes, therefore, that a photograph is not 'a still and passive object ready to be mobilized by a viewer's gaze; rather, it is a vital part of the sensation that covers our bodies 'like a lateral backwash'. To put it another way, in the process of moving us, photographs also touch us.'

As a photographer I found this paper one of the most interesting in the volume, yet it left me with the perplexing question Debbie Lisle had of the image of the Japanese prisoner of war. How does it fit into the overall collection?

There are two other papers that deal with the relationship between movement and stillness in art. 'Performing stillness: Community in waiting' deals with a number of performance pieces in which groups of actors interrupt commonly habituated patterns in certain contexts. This is easier to explain by way of example. One performance involved actors simultaneously raising their hands as if ascertaining if it were raining. Passers by, unrelated to the actors, would also pause when confronted with the interruption to their patterns. Another example involved a crowds waiting patiently, but not moving when they were able to do so. The actors belong to a project called 'Open City'. The other paper is about an exhibition of preserved cadavers and is titled: Stillness-reanimated: Experiencing Body Worlds and the work of art. This is a contentious exhibition that has been criticised by both religious leaders and some of the art community, as well as prominent members of a wider public.

'Performing stillness' is well written in plain language. The performances reminded me, somewhat, of the pattern inductions sometimes used by the American hypnotist Dr. Milton H. Erickson, and also Maria Abromavic's popular 'The Artist is Present' exhibition at MOMA, where participants would queue for hours to spend indefinite periods staring into Abromavic's impassive face. Perhaps most of all, though, the key to the paper is contained in the opening paragraph, where Emma Crocker proposes: 'The act of stillness can be understood as a mode of playful resistance to - or refusal of - societal norms.' This idea has powerful implications. Not only was such an active stillness, perhaps, what made the image of the Japanese prisoner of war so disturbing to Debbie Lisle as described above, but its power was ably demonstrated more recently in Taksim, Turkey when Erdem Gunduz stood immobile before Istanbul Cultural Centre in protest against government plans for Gezi Park. His protest being replicated by other performers across the Country.

'Stillness reanimated' is rather a different interpretation of stillness. Whereas the work of 'Open City' is based upon live people being actively still - 'Body Worlds' is about the exploration of our lives in juxtaposition to dead bodies that have been plasticised in order to preserve them. In other words we are live witnesses, and we witness something that may one day resemble our own bodies. The bodies themselves are arrested in time, rather like Susan Sontag believed photographs too arrested time, yet of course, these bodies were themselves once living, breathing humans, who once had relatives and personal histories, independent of the ones we create for them with our minds.

Perhaps the most curious idea to come out of the paper is that of 'Plastination', which is described as 'killing death'. The natural processes of decay that occur to bodies after internal respiration has ceased denote absence of life only as far as a person is concerned. The body continues to live through it's process of decay, that's to say it changes and in changing it moves, although at a lesser rate than when it was a self-organised unit. Plastination, as a means of preservation, is seen as means of arresting this absorption into the fabric of the planet, instead conserving the form and features of what was once the living person. This hybrid of plastic and flesh being described as an 'inorganic organism'.

Visitors to the exhibition tend to be affected with a sense of being slowed. This is partly as a result of the ways the bodies are 'tastefully' exhibited in subdued lighting. After visiting the exhibition many ask if what they have seen really are dead people.

Abrahamsson sums up his findings thus: 'Body worlds moves us in at least three ways. First and obviously, it moves people in the sense that they travel to take part in the exhibition and, when inside the hall, the design of the exhibition guides visitors while the plastinates create zones of attraction, attention and curiosity, propelling them foreword. Second, the exhibition moves some people in the sense that the plastinates and their creator strike them as appalling, horrific and controversial. The exhibition stretches the limits of possibility in both science and art defining the bodies interchangeably as objects of science or works of art depending upon the situation. Third the bodies exhibited exert movement in the sense that, while they remain still and immobilized, they also seem to move from within. The plastinates do not express movement as displacement in space; rather they express movement that, while moving, remains in place and maintains its form. This movement is the work of art (rather than the product of art); it is not an actual movement, and neither is it equal to measurable or extensive change.'

Perhaps what Abrahamsson's paper points to most has nothing to do with stillness, or movement, but rather simply illustrates how since the C18th there has been a tendency for 'Art', initially for the wealthy, and later through public galleries for the masses, to have replaced religious experience in an age of science. I think immediately of Rothko's 'spiritual paintings' made originally for Seagram's Four Seasons Restaurant, but which now hang in London's Tate Modern. These seek to 'make the viewer feel "enveloped within" the painting.' There are, of course, many other examples of art that seek to engage us in a sense of transcendence. Body Worlds continues such a trend by moving us into the territory of the dead, which was originally administered by shamans, priests, or warriors, rather than artists.

It seems to me that 'Body worlds' enables us to contemplate our own life, and death, processes within a quasi scientific framework. Those who are overwhelmed by the idea of their mortality will most likely find 'premature closure', in a similar way to how Debbie Lisle initially reacted when seeing the photograph of a Japanese prisoner of war, which I have described in some detail earlier. I do not find the idea of examining bodies sensational, revolting, or even, within appropriate contexts, distasteful - after all, science informs us, we die and are reborn with each passing moment. I do, however, have a quibble with referring to cadavers embalmed in plastic as 'plastinates'. The term reminded me too much of the way that Japanese experimenters would refer to prisoners marked for eventual vivisection as 'logs'. I wondered if Abrahamsson was wise to so 'willingly' freely use this term, because it serves to mask the fact that people's bodies are the exhibit.

The final chapter is titled: The broken thread: On being still. I prefer the sub-title because it's more descriptive. Paul Harrison it's author looks at works by Kafka and Kertesz. Kafka writes that 'The bachelor . . . has nothing before him and therefore nothing behind him. At the moment there is no difference, but the bachelor has only the moment.' It's a curious assertion that perhaps is more accurate for monks, or other pilgrims, than contemporary western bachelors with all the pressures of career, education, social media, and economics.

Kertesz's novel 'Sorstalansag' draws upon his experiences as a detainee in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz when he was 14, even though he claimed it is not autobiographical. He writes: 'We transform into our determinacy voluntarily so to say, and in that way attempt to assimilate our determinacy to our fate; or else we rebel against it, and so fall victim to our determinacy. Neither of these is a true solution, for in both cases we are obliged to perceive our determinacy . . . as reality'

The issue, according to Paul Harrison, is how do we step aside from being either heroes, or victims, 'from being determined or determining'? In many respects it is the same territory visited by exponents of the philosophy of non-duality, but according to Harrison, others who examined Kertesz's novel, rather than finding the solution of stepping into the 'stillness' above the two poles of this dichotomy see such a solution as an illusion. The main character in Kertestz novel is defined not be his thoughts, feelings, or actions, but rather by his non-action, which isn't to be confused with passivity.

Harrison poses the question: 'What happens when the thread breaks, when the work of man comes to a standstill? What happens when the know which binds politics and the human to action is let slip?' For him the answer is that stillness offers: 'the anarchical and all but silent condition of possibility for all political strategy as such. A condition of possibility which all political strategy carries within itself, more or less well, more or less consciously, as a memory of the finite and corporeal nature of existence.'

This has undoubtedly been the most difficult review I have found myself writing. It is certainly the longest. The problem is that this collection of papers doesn't suggest itself to an obvious audience, although some individual papers do. In order to enable readers to make up their own minds about whether to make a purchase it is therefore necessary both to quote from each paper, as well as to summarise. There is much I might find to take issue with within the book's covers, especially the denseness of its language which, in seeking clarity. obfuscates. For all that it is a thoughtful book, sometimes pretentious, often challenging, and occasionally stimulating. It's hardly bed-time reading, but for those of us approaching western concepts of stillness for the first time it is one of the rare places where we may make a start.


1. Quoted in Dilman, Ilham (1999) Free Will: A Historical and Philosophical Introduction. Londan and New York, Routledge.
. Gladwell, Malcolm (2008) Outliers, The Story of Success. New York, Little Brown and Company.
3. Herrigel, Eugen (1960) The Method of Zen. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.


Stephen Bray





MARK EDWARDS lives in Exeter and works as a Primary Mental Health Worker in South Devon.  He has a developing interest in working systemically and the focus of his work is with children and families.  He runs a successful course for parents on Managing Challenging Behaviour  





MICHAEL MALLOWS is an Honorary Fellow within the Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.  He developed the Crafty Listening approach to developing Emotional Intelligence.  He coaches individuals and trains teams and groups in the voluntary, public and private sectors.  Michael is the author of The Power to Use NLP and co-author of Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake.




TERRY GOODWIN was a senior marketing executive at Finexport Ltd in London and Bangkok until his retirement in 1992, since when he has been in private practice as a marketing consultant.  Terry has been the persona of our business editor since the inception of Nurturing Potential.


JOE SINCLAIR is Managing Editor of New Nurturing Potential as well as the publisher of Potential Unleashed.  He is the author of eleven books including An ABC of NLP.



SEP MEYER is a graduate of the London School of Economics and, since his retirement from a commercial life, has occupied himself with writing poetry and drama, as well as articles in the area of sociology, politics and current affairs.  It is, in a way, appropriate that he is contributing this review.  In Issue No. 3 of the original Nurturing Potential he provided a review of Charles Townshend's Very Short Introduction to Terrorism (, and in Issue No. 12 (, his article Going to Hell in a Hand Basket was concerned with the Israeli building of a wall as a counter-terrorist measure against insurgency.



EDIT KOVACS comes from Hungary where she used to run an international service desk and is currently a business consultant specializing in Service Management based in England.  She has a Master’s degree (MA) in Sociology, specializing in Business Process Offshoring.




STEPHEN BRAY lives on a Mediterranean beach with a gorgeous woman, an Amazon child, and a daft dog. He is the author of Photography and Psychoanalysis: The Development of Emotional Persuasion in Image Making, and when not creating photographic images, is working on a book about Zen.  More details are available at