Posted on May 24 2018
Welcome to BooksActually's series of promotions, centering about the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. Each week, we will upload reviews for 2 recommended reading titles targeting a specific personality type.
This week, our focus is on the ENTP type (Extrovert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). ENTPs are loud-voiced visionaries who treasure independence of mind and freedom of speech. Attracted to controversy, they love playing the devil’s advocate in conversations, applying their rich imagination in the critique or creation of ideas.
This week, we are recommending two landmark titles that have sparked controversy or garnered censorship for their contrarian voices. While challenging to read, they provoke new directions of thought, demolishing boundaries and redefining ideas regarding the human condition.
Book I: We
We was the first work banned by the Soviet censorship bureau, in 1921. Vastly influential, it directly inspired some of the century’s greatest works of dystopian fiction – Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A reading of We after its literary descendants seems to crystallize and purify ideas of totalitarianism explored in all three – perhaps its author’s own life experiences within the Soviet regime gives it greater conviction.
We must be one of the few fiction books narrated by a Mathematician – namely, D-503. Not much of a man of letters, his language reads in a dry and disjointed fashion. This parallels how his major concerns lie not within the sensational experiences of human life, but in its overarching abstractions – ‘soul’, ‘love’, ‘feeling’.
Initially the pinnacle of his repressive, unfeeling society, D-503 sits safely within his glass house, open to scrutiny, the flow of his life dictated by the strict timetables set out by the society’s ‘generous’ ruler. In the logic of this society, there is no time for love and no time for spontaneity. Imagine our protagonist’s disorientation when he ‘discovers’ he has a soul and is suddenly dumped into a chaotically emotional existence. He grapples with passion, jealousy, confusion and faith – experiences that refuse to be subdued by logic. As the book progresses, the collapse of D-503’s life wavers increasingly towards ‘The Machine’, a high-tech method of human sacrifice which liquefies its victims.
We is, in all, an essential classic – a disconcerting portrait of a human being who, despite the insistence of his society, is unable to refute the emotional humanity of his internal world.
“Do you realise that what you are suggesting is revolution?” “Of course, it’s revolution. Why not?” “Because there can’t be a revolution. Our revolution was the last and there can never be another. Everybody knows that.” “My dear, you’re a mathematician: tell me, which is the last number?” “What do you mean, the last number?” “Well, then, the biggest number!” “But that’s absurd. Numbers are infinite. There can’t be a last one.” “Then why do you talk about the last revolution?”
Book II: I Love Dick
‘I Love Dick’ is hysterical because it unapologetically pokes merciless fun at what the role of the woman often is in art, exaggerating this insipid and forever pining character till readers are in stitches. The almost absurd obsession with ‘Dick’ that follows Chris throughout the book lends an almost absurdist quality to the book - and yet, readers are forced to confront the reality of how a female’s heterosexual desire is often considered abject. The brute-force of the author’s wit and anger will attack you with every word - and leave you wanting more.