A Curious Mind: The Secret To A Bigger Life, by Brian Grazer with Charles Fishman, read by Norbert Leo Butz
As someone who is deeply and systematically curious , I found this book definitely something to suit my own curiosity. While I doubt that Brian Grazer would ever think of me as someone who was significant enough to schedule a curiosity conversation with, this book gives a good example of how one can use one’s curiosity to live a better life. This is not to say that I approved of everything in the book. The author is clearly someone whose curiosity does not have specifically moral bounds and he is definitely hostile to the Biblical story of the two trees and views Genesis 3 as speaking negatively about curiosity, but even as someone with a highly religious worldview, I find a great deal to praise about curiosity, although I tend to view that curiosity as being in tension with other goals on occasion, and though I recognize that what I view as curiosity of a benign sort or friendly sort is not always viewed so highly by other people, who view it as one of my many facets of impertinence.
This book can be divided into two parts. The first part is the author’s exploration of curiosity. He discusses how curiosity has benefited his own personal life in several ways, including give him his start in the entertainment business and helping him connect with others and also encouraging him to get good ideas as well as a firm understanding of psychology by leveraging the experiences of others. The author talks a lot about his film and television career, his work with director Ron Howard, and the way that curiosity both led to the development of certain projects as well as in one case the canceling of a project because he could not guarantee the safety of a filming crew in a certain part of Mexico. The other part of the book provides some very interesting examples of curiosity conversations from the author that did not fit in his previous narrative, including conversations with Obama, McCain, and President George W Bush on the same day, a time the author had ice cream with Princess Diana, and the author’s awkward conversations with such people as Fidel Castro and Andy Warhol. By and large the author has a wealth of interesting conversations that demonstrate the varied directions that conversations directed by curiosity can take.
From reading or listening to this book it is clear that the author has a curious mind and that he views curiosity very seriously. It is also clear that the author views curiosity as an under-appreciated tool for generating creative and innovative ideas and perspectives, and I think the author has a big point here. Yet the author provides the answer as to why this is the case by pointing out that curiosity can be awkward and uncomfortable and subversive, and it is precisely these elements that make curious people viewed as somewhat threatening even if the end results of curiosity in terms of insight and understanding are widely recognized as beneficial. It appears that, sadly, only certain people in certain circumscribed ways are free to be curious, and that a wider degree of curiosity is likely to lead to quite a bit of problems for people who engage in that sort of exploration in ways that are not viewed favorably. And whatever society exists or is ever likely to exist, there will be certain boundaries beyond which curiosity is not to be accepted or tolerated, no matter how much the author would like to usher in an age of curiosity today.
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