George StylesOct 29, 2021
Although many of us move through life at a fast pace, do you ever stop to wonder why things are the way they are? More so, do you even know why you showed up for work this morning? Whatever reasons you might have, could you say you thought them all the way through? And when you thought them all the way through, did you do this past the parts you might not like to think about as well? And what about what the world is doing? Even if you might not care, do you know why it is doing what it is doing? And what about the people that live far beyond your side of the planet? Do you know why they are doing what they are doing? More so than all of this, why is it that all of us are on this particular planet, in this particular galaxy, and this particular universe?
Perhaps we may not be able to find all the answers to such a series of questions. But there has never been a better time in history than now to try and discover all the answers. With so many resources available online, perhaps now is a better time than ever to start to ask questions about why things are the way they are. From online dictionaries to databases that have open access to the public, finding information has never been easier. However, the question then becomes, “How do we start?” And even more so, “Where do we start?” To answer those questions and more, we need to begin with a single question. And from that question, we can then begin our search. But what question should we start with?
George Styles' Contemplation (2021) is a convention-defying exploration of 400 questions the author has posted on Twitter, ranging from the mundane, such as “in general, what is the thing you would say people talk about the most?” to politically current, “does cancel culture really exist?” to intriguing thoughts such as “what is an intellectual?” The questions are initially presented sequentially with numbers and then again with short commentaries for each question. In many cases the commentaries have further questions, rather than answers to the questions raised.
The book is a product of our social media age and an innovative way to engage social media in a more intellectually stimulating manner than is common. It's a fascinating read.
John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations.