Now who can resist learning more about something like that? Certainly not us, so we’ve stolen reprinted the article and are presenting it right here:
by Maria Pop0va
“A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”
“The habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts,” wrote James Webb Young in his famous 1939 5-step technique for creative problem-solving, “becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas.” But just how does one acquire those vital cognitive customs? That’s precisely what science writer Maria Konnikova explores in Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (UK; public library) — an effort to reverse-engineer Holmes’s methodology into actionable insights that help develop “habits of thought that will allow you to engage mindfully with yourself and your world as a matter of course.”
Bridging ample anecdotes from the adventures of Conan Doyle’s beloved detective with psychology studies both classic and cutting-edge, Konnikova builds a compelling case at the intersection of science and secular spiritualism, stressing the power of rigorous observation alongside a Buddhist-like, Cageian emphasis on mindfulness. She writes:
The idea of mindfulness itself is by no means a new one. As early as the end of the nineteenth century, William James, the father of modern psychology, wrote that, ‘The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. … An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.’ That faculty, at its core, is the very essence of mindfulness. And the education that James proposes, an education in a mindful approach to life and to thought.
In recent years, studies have shown that meditation-like thought (an exercise in the very attentional control that forms the center of mindfulness), for as little as fifteen minutes a day, can shift frontal brain activity toward a pattern that has been associated with more positive and more approach-oriented emotional states, and that looking at scenes of nature, for even a short while, can help us become more insightful, more creative, and more productive. We also know, more definitively than we ever have, that our brains are not built for multitasking — something that precludes mindfulness altogether. When we are forced to do multiple things at once, not only do we perform worse on all of them but our memory decreases and our general wellbeing suffers a palpable hit.
But for Sherlock Holmes, mindful presence is just a first step. It’s a means to a far larger, far more practical and practically gratifying goal. Holmes provides precisely what William James had prescribed: an education in improving our faculty of mindful thought and in using it in order to accomplish more, think better, and decide more optimally. In its broadest application, it is a means for improving overall decision making and judgment ability, starting from the most basic building block of your own mind….
He’ll tell you his side of the story after the pic. But ours is that he’s looking for Stephen Moffett.
I’ve been told that there’s a man in London who’s more clever than even me. Of course I couldn’t resist dropping by his flat on Baker Street, but no one was in. At St. Bart’s Hospital I looked high and low for the man, but never found him. Sherlock Holmes – we will meet one day!
Yep, another short review of ELEMENTARY. Hey, CBS, the good news it that this thing definitely is being sampled. The bad news, OTOH…
by Barbara M
I watched Elementary’s opening episode.Well tried to. CBS really needs to work on their streaming. I got all the way to the last section and blip! – gone. Was not feeling up to going through the whole thing again.BUT. Until then excellent, for a first episode. New shows always seem to be feeling their way on the first few outings, if not the whole first season.
My main quibble is with the Watson character – left doctoring because killed a patient on the surgery table (hmm, Body of Proof anyone?) and she was the definition of blah up until half way through. The she starts showing some backbone and brains – they need to keep that up.
I’ll be watching (if I can get the dang thing to stream!)
Um. The violin music is a nice touch. It may, in fact, be the most appealing element of Elementary, a title which seems to refer mostly to the level of skill displayed on the show.
Show. Don’t Tell.
One episode in, I have a predictive formula for future episodes of Elementary: take one small part Sherlock, add a healthy helping of Law and Order (mixing different iterations liberally), and add just a pinch of Criminal Minds. Elementary, my dear…(never mind. Just. Never mind).
Short story short: If you’re looking for innovation, look elsewhere.
The show works best if you think of it as a kind of postmodern pastiche of the shows mentioned above that, and even then, it’s not working well. The Americanization of Sherlock Holmes – he’s sexier, sexed up, and talks in catchier if slightly less intelligent phrases – is a sorry one, and it’s too bad: both Liu and Miller have charisma and chemistry to spare.
Problematic also is Holmes’ legendary brusque, dismissive and condescending attitude toward Watson: they really didn’t think that gender-bending casting decision through. If you thought Steven Moffat making Irene Adler a dominatrix did a disservice to strong female characters, try making the much-abused sidekick Watson the only major female character: whip-wielding Irene Adler starts to look like Susan B. Anthony.
Fragments of dialogue echo Sherlock; you can see the invisible pen writing around the British mega-hit constantly, and in some cases, it’s just impossible not to feel that the writers are cheating us, and clumsily too. The beginning, structurally, is very reminiscent of Sherlock’s beginning, which starts things off on the wrong foot altogether.
This is minor, but annoying: because Holmes is British, he occasionally speaks like an eighteenth century person. Hilarious. My favorite instance of this: referring to the Mets as the “Metropolitans of New York.” Yes. Yes. I’m sure that’s how well-cultured British people living in New York talk.
On a personally disappointing note: they miss at least one great opportunity for a cereal/serial joke, probably because most of the jokes on the show are like a Midwest thunderstorm: you see them coming two miles out and resign yourself to the inevitable conclusion just as quickly. Which is kind of (aside from the music!) a microcosm of the show as a whole.