Tag Archives: Sidney Pollack

Seeking the Quiet in a Bombastic World – Susan Cain’s Book, at just the Right Time

We make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly.
Susan Cain, Quiet


In the gripping conclusion of the movie The Interpreter, Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) has a gun at the head of former liberator turned genocidal murderer Zuwanie (Earl Cameron), dictator of the fictional African country Matobo.  She forces Zuwanie to read from his own autobiography, which opens on the dedication page with these words:

The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear.
But the human voice is different from other sounds.
It can be heard over noises that bury everything else.
Even when it’s not shouting.
Even if it’s just a whisper.
Even the lowest whisper can be heard over armies…
when it’s telling the truth.

There are other scenes in the movie where Broome and Keller (Sean Penn, Secret Service agent) spar over the conflict between loudness and softness/quietness.

Silvia Bloome longs for Quiet.

I thought of this movie as I selected Susan Cain’s new book, Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking for the March First Friday Book Synopsis.  Susan Cain starts with an obvious acknowledgement – an all-too-obvious contemporary reality:

We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal – the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. 

Or, to put it another way, we seem to value “loud,” not “quiet.” 

Maybe we are simply too loud.  We need some quiet.

Now, people who know me can attest to the fact that I fall into the “too loud” category.  I speak loudly.  I like to meet new folks, to engage in conversation with any/many “new folks.”  It is not my nature to “hang back,” and be “quiet.”

But, as this book affirms, it is clear that the quiet folks have so very much to offer.  And it is in the “inner worlds, the “quiet places,” that some great insights are found.

There is, in Cain’s words, “a bias against quiet.”  But, as the book argues, we rob ourselves of so much if we make the introverts pretend that they are extroverts.  (And there is great pressure for introverts to, in fact, pretend that they are extroverts).

Among many other strengths, Cain states:

Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately.  They like to focus on one task at a time, and can have mighty powers of concentration.

In this bombastic age, with loud noises coming from every direction, there are times that I hunger for the Quiet.  I think this book is hitting a hungry nation at just the right time.

“There’s another word for such people (introverts):  thinkers.”