Review of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by S. Covey

Despite the corny title, which has spawned a whole genre of ‘the seven ways/steps/habits to become rich/successful/powerful’ books, this is a strong reading for those interested in coaching and self-development. It proposes the idea of integrity, consistency and an ethic approach being at the heart of every genuinely effective person, rather than greed and preoccupation with material wealth. Certain ideas, such as the crucial role of Quadrant II habits (attaching importance to activities that are not urgent, but important on long term as they contribute to one’s personal vision and values) are still very relevant; they could invite for an approach that favours substance and a long-term vision instead of regarding the completion of day-to-day tasks as a tick-box exercise. There is also the simple, but powerful idea of interdependence (considering the needs of others in your approach, including in business transactions) as the ultimate value, rather than the much more lauded in western societies value of independence. The latter is considered here as a transitional stage on the way to higher levels of effectiveness and self-fulfilment.

Other areas of the book I found less appealing, such as the insistence on the use of jargon words such as ‘synergize’ instead of the much simpler and -ironically- effective word ‘collaborate’. There is also the tendency to ‘psychologize’ in certain sections, seeking for deeper psychological explanations for phenomena that are probably much simpler to describe (case in point the utter tedious part where the author describes how his wife’s confession of the reasons behind her preoccupation with Frigidaire led to deeper levels of communication in their relationship). However don’t let this spoil the reading pleasure, this is a book from which most readers can probably learn and retain elements, whether this is in their personal lives, at work or elsewhere.


Sermones Ad Mortuos- A Glimpse of Our Ghostlands

I made this video with footage collected during a weekend visit to two castles in Wales (Caerphilly and Chepstow). It was complemented by additional filming in other locations in West London and Berkshire.

The clip serves to enhance a track written for my minimalist electronic ambient project’s Sermones Ad Mortuos debut album. This album, named ‘The Ghostlands Themes’, has been inspired by Ghostlands, a British DIY ghost hunting documentary. The original idea was to make an alternative soundtrack for the documentary as  I felt that the original music failed to evoke feelings that enhance the viewing experience. I was lucky enough to be in regular contact -through my work- with the maker of the documentary, Dr Ciaran O’ Keeffe, who kindly sent me some audio captured during the recording of the two episodes to be used as samples for my recordings.

Ambient is a genre solely based on creating a certain mood and atmosphere, and other than that it is surprisingly versatile, as it shuns any rules about how that mood is created. Other than Brian Eno’s original definition of ambient as music  regularizing environments by enhancing their acoustic and atmospheric idiosyncracies, there haven’t been many succesful attempts to ‘develop’ the genre into a specific direction. Rather, it has branched out in all sorts of different directions, always on the premise of creating certain soundscapes, or ‘enhancing environments’.

I am a firm believer in science, so have the greatest difficulty to believe in the existence of ghosts. I do however believe that the human mind is capable of creating ‘ghosts’ and indeed, it is exactly this capacity that is exploited by ghost hunters, musicians, artists and charlatans alike.  One could probably defend the view that this clip is my own attempt at playing with the suggestibility of the human mind, by creating audio and visuals that stimulate the ‘ghost experience’.

If you ask me how I define ghosts, I will point out to their fleeting nature. They are immaterial, yet have a certain ‘material’ component as they can be ‘heard’ or ‘seen’. They are nowhere, and yet everywhere. They are dead, but somehow also alive. I find their ambiguous nature endlessly fascinating, and this track and clip are my attempts at exploiting this sensation of vagueness, suggestibility and ambiguity. Hope you enjoy it and comments or thoughts about the clip or this topic are welcome.