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SINS OF SYNTAX

The Power Of The Glance


The military generals, we are talking about geniuses here, are said to have a certain “coup d’oeil”— roughly translated from French, it means the power of the glance. In the military sense it is “the ability to immediately see and make sense of the battlefield” under high stress. The power of the glance is often undermined and considered to be irrelevant in a world where theory and study hold a hierarchical and privileged position. But Blink by Malcolm Gladwell pares away at those theories and proves that our power of assessing something in the first few seconds—our gut reaction can be absolutely correct, bang on. Interestingly Blink continues to dominate the prime areas on book shelves even though it was first published three years ago. I went into a re-read here because one of the bookshops in the city was having a discount sale and they were offering it for Rs 45 less. This is one book every one should have on their bookshelves, so go get it.
Written powerfully, Blink conveys that humans have an intuition that is often suppressed because “our world requires that decisions be sourced and footnoted.” Gladwell suggests that to get to know a prospective employee, it would be a good idea to check out his house instead of giving him a big fat test. He may pass your test but just may fail the house-peek because his house may reveal things that are quite different from the “deliberate expressions” about how he would want to be perceived by the world. So it is with relationships, there are experts who can tell you, if a marriage will last. Gladwell quotes marriage expert John Gottman, “Contempt is special. If you can measure contempt, then all of a sudden you don’t need to know every detail of a couple’s relationship.” That’s because, if someone you love expresses contempt then it begins to affect the functioning of your immune system. Gladwell tells you how to look at things but that doesn’t mean you cannot get it wrong. But he will tell you where you are going wrong. Guess, that's about all he can do.

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