Category Archives: Relationships

THE SLAP AND SHORT OF LOVE

My novel Short of Love (2018) is compared below with ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas (2008).

His book is a bestseller and has been made into a movie mini-series (2011). I like the book very much.

Genre of ‘The Slap’ is urban psychological fiction. The genre of Short of Love is fictionalised autobiography in an epic thriller. The two books are similar in that both stories narrate events subsequent to unusual incidents that are pivotal in causing social groups to disintegrate.

The Slap is set in an urban tribe in Melbourne having a microcosm of social ills, family loyalties, passions and dysfunctional relationships. An incident mars a family gathering and the aftermath destabilises their lives.

Short of Love is set in England and Canada, beginning with Tom as a schoolboy and following the threads of his dysfunctional relationship with his crush, Vicki and his career as an engineer and corporate executive until his retirement. Tom is tricked to take a lie detector test and again when he trades Vicki in a ‘short’ deal with a friend, as a commodity to acquire later. The book satirizes conventional love relationships but the strategies backfire disastrously, blowing him and Vicki apart. He gains a top job in Canada but Vicki, a school counsellor, stays in England. On the rebound he marries Ruth, expecting to resume with Vicki later.

The books are pre-occupied with consequences of traumas affecting lives of the characters in unpredictable ways. The reader will be entertained in The Slap by the misbehaviour of suburbanites. Short of Love recounts antics of irrepressible university students in Liverpool in the Beatles era, later as hippies and then as vulnerable obsessive adults in a fast-moving page turner.

Short of Love is an unconventional story recording morals that changed with the times. The focus is on Tom’s relationship with Vicki and it keeps the reader guessing. It is a tantalizing love story with an unexpected ending. 

Available from Amazon. Reviews at https://martinknox.com

HOW CONDITIONED ARE YOU?

It may be disquieting to ask you to reflect on the rewards you are getting in your life and what you have done to get them. I want you to appraise your rewards and conditions realistically, without reducing your happiness.

You could be in an exchange relationship with some or all of the following: partner, child, parent, friend, mentor, trainer, coach, employer, landlord, bank, utility, grocer, supplier.

The rewards you get from these people could be affected by what you do: the quality of your interactions, your tasks and the opportunities available.

You rewards could depend on the conditions of: each transaction separately; their satisfaction in the relationship; their desire that you perform in a particular way; whether they could get the same thing from someone else; established obligations on both sides; parity with your peers; their plans for you.

The reward conditions could be intended to motivate you. The theory of motivation proposed by B F Skinner is behaviour is a function of its consequences. His rats learned to press a lever to get pellets of food delivered to them. If there are positive consequences the behaviour tends to be repeated. Negative consequences tend not to have the behaviours repeated. Positives and negatives can be varied in many ways.

Employers could apply monetary rewards and personal recognition by promotion or material benefits, such as an improved workplace. 

Family and social relationships could reward you with acknowledgement and gifts.

Education rewards could be acknowledgement of prestigious accomplishment.

Commercial relationships could be rewarded by personal price discounts or favours. 

Alternatively, such external rewards may not be motivating you. Your preferred achievement could be by internal goals and self-fulfilment, allowing creativity and maturity. There is danger in seeking only internal rewards. If you are not responding to the rewards offered by your people in the ways they expect, their plans may be thwarted and the prospect of rewards may be withdrawn.

To get the most personal advantage, it is desirable to discuss with each of your people the rewards you would like from them, possibly negotiating details. They may be uncomfortable discussing your rewards with you because they have plans for you they want to keep secret. It could be to your advantage to uncover these.

The method of using positive or negative consequences to control behaviour is called operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is predicated on you, the conditioned person, being susceptible only to rewards and not to reason. Likewise, they, the operator, has your respect only for doling out rewards. Reduction to the rewards dimension insults the humanity and companionship essential for successful relationships.

My writing on personal motivation and organisations is in my novels and posts on my blog: martinknox.com

FREEDOM FROM POSSESSIONS?

‘Freedom is nothing left to lose’ (Song: Bobby Mcghee).

Conversely, can acquisition of a product bring true freedom?

True freedom is much sought after. Giving away one’s possessions may be undertaken to achieve freedom. Is going without honourable, to people other than stoics? Some religions offer poverty as a virtue bringing salvation.

Can giving and impoverishment be a hangover cure for a binge of hedonism?

A person can give and take, at different times, without contradiction. 

Reciprocation is expected. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)

Why is taking balanced by giving? It makes sense in economics but maybe not in ethics.

What if the person gives all they have and it is not reciprocated? Would their condition be pitiable or enviable?

Minimalism removes the distraction of excess possessions so you can focus more on those things that matter most.Adam Smith described a state of “perfect liberty”— which became known as laissez-faire capitalism, freedom to make money — as most socially desirable. Or is minimalism the selfish squandering of opportunity?

Giving can mean transfer of more than you have, by sacrifice. Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect. According to Noam Chomsky: The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have. An individual’s first responsibility is to himself and his family, according to Jordan Peterson and Ayn Rand.

Should a person try to balance their giving and taking, so as to stay in credit?

Philanthrocapitalists like Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk and Bevos have achieved “spectacular fortunes” in the marketplace and may feel compelled to make a bigger impact, outside the marketplace, by giving. Carnegie gifted what would amount to billions of dollars today by taking a “modest salary” and donating the rest during his life and in his death. He believed that it was not only a moral imperative, but a social responsibility of the elite to support and grow local economies for lower classes. Noblesse Oblige prescribed that with great wealth comes the responsibility to give back to those who are less fortunate than oneself. Was this balance between taking and giving true freedom?

Ordinary individuals may want to balance their giving on a reduced scale.

The conundrum seems to have three dimensions: Freedom; Responsibility; Self sacrifice.

Through acquisition, giving and tolerance, independence may be possible daily.

My blog: https://martinknox.com

SHORT OF LOVE

This book is a page-turning biofiction spanning decades from Beatlemania oil to international oil industry hegemony. Tom wants Vicki, but she plays hard to get and he puts her aside for later. He is diverted by a relationship with someone else, by having children and by an ambitious career as a CEO overseas. Events don’t work out the way he plans, but after the children have left home, he tries to revive his relationship with Vicki. Will he be able to get back with her? Short of Love is a novel that satirises dealing in love as a commodity short, with insights into a relationship where a man tries to reduce his vulnerability to love that adversely affects his career. This is an action-packed story in the UK, Canada and Africa with ethical and humanitarian dilemmas.

See excerpt and reviews https://martinknox.com

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