What we've been reading: Thinking, perfectionism and Street Fighter

What we've been reading
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Looking for something to read this fine Friday, or maybe over the weekend? Look no further. This week’s edition of What We’ve Been Reading is brimful of quality content.

It’s the usual crowd this week and the suggestions are varied like always: Street Fighter, perfectionism and thinking.

Enjoy the reads and, most importantly, enjoy your well earned weekend.

Fran - 'I punched him so hard he cried': inside the Street Fighter movie

Francois

If you’re a bad film aficionado you may well have already seen the gloriously camp 1994 film Street Fighter. The movie - an adaptation of the iconic arcade brawler of the same name - is infamous for its terrible fight choreography and utterly bamboozling dialogue.

But despite clearly being a rashly produced cash-in, the movie has acquired a charming patina over time. It’s silly, it’s a little weird and it’s actually quite self-consciously funny.

It’s also hard not to feel a few pangs of sadness when you watch the late Raúl Juliá (that’s Gomez Addams to you and I) ham it up as the villain. Juliá, the film’s undoubted highlight, was terminally ill during filming and died soon after. The testimonies from his co-stars cast him as a kind, gracious presence on set.

This Guardian piece is a brilliant look at how the film was made. The story is filled with wonderful anecdotes about Thai coups, coked up Jean-Claude van Damme, and unchoreographed knife fights.

Valme – The intolerable rise of perfectionism

Valme Claro

Although I am not a fan of labels, I have to admit it: I was (and maybe still am more than I would like to admit) a perfectionist.

In fact, as I come from a country in which having a bachelor’s degree is seen as an indispensable requirement for success (although in reality this is certainly not the case, as it has generated a widespread over qualification problem), I have seen perfectionism and the fear of failure looming over a whole generation.

It is easy to become a bit too competitive when you are a student. After all, you are being constantly evaluated with assignments and exams. But for many students, the competition is not against others, but against themselves. This quest for self-improvement can be positive if handled correctly, but most students are too young to understand what the real impact of setting such a high bar for themselves might be.

It is not until you finish your studies that you look back and reassess the importance of all that anxiety. Was it worth it? In my case, it taught me many things about myself. And to be honest, I’d probably fall into the same trap again.

Tom - Learning how to think: The skill no one taught you

Tom Herbert

From someone who grew up with four TV channels, I've quickly adapted to the brave new world of digital multitasking. As I write this I'm flicking through another article I'm writing, browsing the net and checking Twitter. But is this the most productive way of working in 2018?

A recent study by a team of researchers at Stanford wanted to find out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered - and this is by no means what they expected - is that they don’t.

The study found that the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself. Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it actually impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorising a body of information. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself.

This quick write-up of the study urges people to spend more time thinking.

"It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea," writes the unnamed author. "By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize [sic] them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing."

*Thanks to Bobby Chadha for flagging this piece.

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