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A Firework of a Book,
This review is from: Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing (Paperback)
Andrew Smart may become the Pavlov of doing nothing. The metaphor of his title is that our brains run by themselves and that interfering with them too much - or at all - is the precondition for crashes, for people as individuals, for society and for the world in which we live.
He bases his arguments on experiments in neuroscience which indicate that much of our mental activity takes place when we are doing absolutely nothing. So, if like me, you find some of your most creative ideas occur when you are in the most out of the way places - and not in that all-important meeting or seminar - you will feel vindicated by this book.
Smart draws from philosophy, history, literature and management theory (thanks for explaining the One Minute Manager to me - I had never intended to read it) and at times draws from economics (as sparingly as he can) and even the principle of emergent properties. His is one of the best comparisons of the ant colony with the human brain that I have read; food for thought, as with the rest of his book.
He rails against the distractions which ruin our ability to think creatively and destroy productivity, including multi-tasking, digital media, the inappropriate rolling-out of management systems and the hot-housing of extramural activities for young people. With considerable logic and a fair amount of imagination, he also concludes with some radical measures for dealing with the plane crash that many believe to be our world's imminent plight.
His aims are to produce `bullet-proof scientific excuses for laziness .. possible neuroscientific insights into the relationship between idleness and creativity ... (and) to hammer the first nails into a coffin for the insufferable time management industry.'
There is much to be enjoyed and learnt from this book. Much of it is backed up by excellent scientific facts, even if some of the neuroscience may at times be a bit unclear to the uninitiated. There are claims which the reader may consider less than justified. The reviewer for one fails to understand the author's obvious detestation of to-do lists as an aid to the weary brain, and the author himself veers from suggesting (as most would agree) that too much leisure is boring or worse, to desiring a huge acceptance of idling as the foundation of a new society. However, this adds to the joy of a book which ranges widely and allows the reader independently to consider just how lazy an idler should be.