Speed versus Soul

Someone was asking me about the book “The Art of Speedreading People” recently. And here are my thoughts…

There are people in the type community who refer to “The Art of Speedreading People” as “The Art of Speed Stereotyping,” and believe it is little more than pigeonholing. I wonder whether Jung would have appreciated it, given that his preface to the Argentine edition of “Psychological Types” reads in part: “Every individual is an exception to the rule, and fitting such individuals into a rigid system is futile. To stick labels on people at first sight is nothing more than a childish parlor game.”

Many type enthusiasts are addicted to speed over accuracy – and I wonder, how well does that serve? What does it communicate?

Interestingly, I had a class last week where the instructor took the position that speed leaves out soul. I’m still thinking about it, and treating it as an inquiry. To his point, however, there is the following story:

“I would mention the story of the native [African] who had been invited to be driven in a car. After half an hour he asked the people to stop. He stepped out and stretched himself on the ground. They asked him whether he was sick, and he said, “no,” he felt all right, but he had just to wait for his soul that had remained behind, as they went too fast for it.” –C.G. Jung (1961)

In the matter of discerning someone’s psychology (psychology is defined as “science of the soul”), I would worry that soul gets lost in the need for speed.

I might even suggest that this drive “to stick labels on people at first sight” is the biggest complaint I hear about type enthusiasts, and many people are angry and hostile toward the MBTI and type as a result. There is merit in the complaint — all too often type is used to condemn rather than appreciate. It becomes painful when type is used speedily and superficially, rather than deeply and dialogically.

There’s a saying the NRA promotes: “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” (This justifies their bearing arms, naturally.) And I would twist it for my purposes to say: “type doesn’t label people; people label people.” Type is a wonderful tool, but when it is used poorly (and it often is), lots of damage can be done.

I guess this has been my circular way of asking that we be mindful when we use these tools, and not succumb to speed at the expense of soul.

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