Friday, 14 June 2013

Book review: Radical Honesty

Brad Blanton believes that intimacy comes from transparency. His book “Radical Honesty” proposes a way to strengthen voluntary relationships which is simple in theory, takes courage in practice and he swears it works.
Blanton thinks that after young people learn how to form concepts, they immediately start overusing them. They stop relating to real objects and start relating to ideas of objects instead. Or they confuse the two. This disconnects people from the real thing and turns them into unhappy jerks.

To grow beyond adolescence you must recognise that there is cognition outside of ideas. And that being right is not the most important thing in life. Blanton believes that there is value in fully experiencing the world even if the experience is not organized into concepts. The opposite of over-focussing on ideas is noticing.
I wish he mentioned that new experiences may eventually lead to a new wave of concept formation and that the process is cyclical but he does not say that.

Blanton believes that the substitution of concept for the real thing is most damaging in relationships. Holding on to ideas and memories about the other person kills relationships even if people officially stay together. Healthy relationships are based on telling the whole truth, noticing and providing support accordingly.

For me, the most original idea of the book is that you can break free from overusing ideas by telling the whole truth about your feelings and observations to yourself, to friends and to family. This includes telling people what you resent and appreciate them for, telling them a complete history of your life and sharing with your partner all your sexual thoughts, desires and memories.

Blanton takes the liberty to use the words "bullshit", "idiot" etc. a lot but it somehow does not bother me. He is simply being true to his attitude towards certain ideas and people.
He does come from a slightly socialist angle and he thinks that profit is bad, but this is not the core of his message. I resent him for being an ignorant arrogant prick about economics but I appreciate him for articulating the liberating power of telling the truth in relationships.
Interesting fact for Intelectual Property resisters - Blanton says he published the book in violation of copyrights of his former publisher.

We need more and better voluntary relationships to replace coercive hierarchies. If you also think this way, you may find “Radical Honesty” useful.

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