Easily overlooked due to its tiny proportions, this pocket-sized handbook proffers to provide insights into our hectic lives and help us figure out why it is that we are not as exceptional as we might be. Its prefix is that we are all exceptional – not just the Joan of Arc, or the Marie Curie amongst us – but even the most, seemingly inconsequential, human being (or living thing, to include myself) is capable of being extraordinary. Well, we already knew that, didn’t we?
Cartwright talks about peeling layers in a way not dissimilar to Donkey when describing Shrek’s personal barriers that prevent him from opening up and exposing the softness and gentleness that he has locked away inside of him. Layers it seems, are a systemic problem, affecting humans as well as ogres. For the sceptics, Cartwright does acknowledge that his little ditty could be construed as “naval-gazing”, what a wonderful term – and that is precisely how I would define this pocket book... The tone starts well enough, friendly without being condescending, but it doesn’t last for long. The references to biblical content made me feel uncomfortable as it seems to be sending out the message that in order to be exceptional, one has to have a faith – a religion... and that doesn’t sit right with me. I love humans, but sometimes you can be ever so naive.
It isn’t all bad though, there are some good points being made. You really can’t know where you’re going until you understand where you are now, and you can’t find another way if you don’t acknowledge where you’ve been. Nothing is as clear cut as he makes it sound though and it feels as though he lost his way part way through... in the end, we’re left with nothing that hasn’t been said before. I can’t help but love the size though – much more accessible for those of smaller stature!
Even if this book makes you feel 1% better for a couple of minutes, for some that will make it worth it. And who can argue with that?
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012