PositiveOpen Letters ReviewMarissa King\'s Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection attempts to strike a balance between the opposite poles, combining the subjective perspective with the objective perspective of a social scientist. The book takes us through a detailed examination of how we network, with an extensive discussion of some of our unexamined views about networking ... While the inclusion of a large number of studies in the book provides a rich view into the relevant research, the research is treated rather uncritically. Critical readers will likely notice the occasional thingification of technical terms and the frequent placing of the burden of explanation on agents rather than the on-going agent-environment interaction ... Despite its shortcomings, King\'s Social Chemistry can stimulate thought about human relationships and about the impact of relationships in other domains of life. At a time when social relationships have been brought into so much focus, the book offers a useful aid for thinking. The value of this type of work will ultimately come, not from replacing our subjective and involved perspectives with the detached view of social scientists, but from creating an on-going dialogue between the two.
MixedOpen Letters ReviewA collection of essays that explores the imaginative character of experience and the complicated relationship between what we regard as real and what we regard as imaginary ... One can imagine a scenario in which Homo Irrealis causes only frustration in the reader. Rather than searching for clarity, Aciman embraces the haziness and ambiguity of what is in view. Regarding each memory, each work of art, each impression as a reflection of his own mind can seem like an insistence on solipsism. One might feel dissatisfied with the passivity that his style of writing seems to reinforce, a type of passivity that resembles the celebration of a sophomoric existential angst. The sense of helplessness against the facts of life, the expression of which in such flowery language appears self-indulgent. Is there anything else to do other than striving for the best and most beautiful expression of an (irreal) melancholy? ... Perhaps what Homo Irrealis offers us is not a passive and detached perspective for its own sake, but a detachment we could use in discovering ways of imagining and acting. The irrealis mood, rather than suspending reality, could enrich and deepen our sense of reality.