Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Talk September 16th: James Eicher

Relaunching the infrequent Tuesday interview series! Email me if you're interested in participating. Meanwhile, here is the latest entry.

Chris:

Today I’m interviewing James Eicher, author of the new eBook Ecology of Truth. I've been helping him with the production of this work, and he’s agreed to talk with us a little more in depth about it. Jim, give us an overview: what is “Truth” about, and why should we read it?

Jim:

Chris, first off, thanks so much for taking time and interest to talk over Ecology of Truth. As an author yourself you know it’s always a pleasure to have someone ask about your work.

So “Truth” covers a lot of ground, but here are some of the main points: As a species, we are “emotionally challenged”. We do a lot of great things but also a lot of really, really awful, dumb things not because we are intellectually stupid, or don’t read or understand history. We do dumb things on a personal and global scale because we are emotional dimwits and clueless on how to handle even fractions of conflict. We can send a man to moon and back, but lose our tempers in a short check-out line at the grocery store.

I began to think and think, over a period of years, of the mental or cognitive source of the discrepancy between our analytical and intellectual abilities to create technology and our emotional capacity to peacefully change… This led me look at how we create truth for ourselves and impose this “truth” on others. One major source of conflict for us as a “cognitive” animal is when others, whether they are individuals or institutions, challenge not what we believe to be true, but our personal belief systems for how we create that truth. That challenges the very core of who we believe we are and how we make sense out of the world…

Admittedly, not light reading, and intended to provoke thinking and reflection. For readers new to this type of writing the section titled “Personal Ecology” is the most accessible. The book does have a logical theme that threads throughout, but I wrote it so that readers could skip around from section to section and still “get” the main points of the book.

Chris:

Jim, as you indicated, Ecology of Truth seems to me to be some fairly heavy stuff, at times. Who is your intended reader?

Jim:

Great question! This is definitely not a romance novel, although I do write about love in the section titled “Redemption”. In general, “Truth” would appeal to readers of speculative, philosophical non-fiction. Specifically, anyone who is familiar with Gregory Bateson or the Chilean writers Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, or the Zen philosopher Ken Wilber would find Ecology of Truth in a similar vein.

Chris:

In your front material, you mention Gregory Bateson, and John Grinder, who also wrote the foreword for the book. Could you tell us a bit more about who they are?

Jim:

Bateson is a well-known behavioral scientist in the fields of anthropology, psychiatry and cybernetics. I met Bateson while an undergraduate student in the 1970’s while attending UC Santa Cruz where I became his teaching assistant. Bateson influenced many other people well known people in psychology, anthropology and sociology such as R.D. Laing, Erving Goffman, Phil Slater, Francisco Varela, Jay Haley, Paul Watzlawick and John Grinder, also a professor at UC Santa Cruz at the time. John is best known for co-creating Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP, which was influenced by Bateson. I was also John’s teaching assistant at UC Santa Cruz and have been a friend of his since then.

Chris:

If you had to… and you do, because I’m making you… what two books would you say would fit on either side of Ecology of Truth? I had previously mentioned Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters, as a first impression of depth and complexity, rather than a comparison of subject matter. Be warned, if you say Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this interview is over.

Jim:

How about…'Zen and the Art of the Traveling Pants'? First off, I am really flattered you would put me in the company of either Campbell or Zukov, two gifted and important writers. To your point, I would say Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid on one side and any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books on the other. Hofstadter because there are admittedly parts of Ecology of Truth that will give you a brain hemorrhage and Gladwell because other parts the reader will find quite accessible and provide interesting contemporary social commentary.

Chris:

We had talked before about geographical differences in interest levels within the field you’re exploring. Is this type of work more accepted in different countries? Why would you think that is?

Jim:

Really good question and very pertinent: I expect Ecology of Truth to do well in Europe, Canada, South America and Asia; possibly better than in the States in the long run. I have no “hard data” for this, but European, South American and Asian readers tend to gravitate more toward philosophical non-fiction.

Chris:

What was the motivation behind the writing of Ecology of Truth?

Jim:

One, Bateson has been such an intellectual influence on my life, particularly in my youth, that I knew I would write a book based on some of his ideas. I think everyone has a “most important book in my life” and for me it is his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind. On a personal note, as alluded to previously, I was trying to get a grip in my own mind of the source of our species’ emotional vicissitudes and problem solve ways to evolve to a better place. It’s up to the reader to determine if I succeeded.

Chris:

This isn't your first book. What others do you have out there?

Jim:

I have had prior success writing leadership and management material over the years including best- selling assessments such as the Leader-Manager Profile and the Neurolinguistic Communication Profile. I have several books and eBooks available as well articles. These are all available on my website trustleadcollaborate.com.

Chris:

Where can we find your new book?

Jim:

Ecology of Truth came out about a month ago and is available through Amazon.com as a Kindle eBook.

Chris:

Thanks for your time, James. We look forward to finding your book on the virtual shelves, and that’s the truth. We’ll have links to your website on the ‘Friends of The Blademage Saga’ section shortly.

Jim:

Chris, thanks so much for your time!