Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad, 1902 (it was actually a 3 part story written for a magazine prior to its publication.)

This is a book that you won’t get out of your head.  The protagonist, Charles Marlow is telling a story to his shipmates about his adventures in Africa as a river boat captain.  It is a multilayered tale of darkness that does a great job in capturing the sheer ferocity of the sickness/evil that lurks in the human mind.  It’s written in an interesting style and years later I can still remember images such as…his mouth and teeth were open as though trying to swallow the entirety of mankind; in reference to the natives appearing along the edge of a clearing in the jungle – the world exhaled and they were there, inhaled and consumed them.  The lines…”The horror. The horror.” are especially poignant.

Heart of Darkness certainly captured elements of what I hoped to instill in the experiences of the main protagonists, Jake Gillean and Benjamin Murray, in The Chronicles of Gillean.  In their own ways, they are fighting to maintain hope that mankind is more than what the darkness of their experiences would lead them to believe.

Emotional Intelligence:  Why it can matter more than IQ

by Daniel Goleman, Bantam Books, 1995

I would rate this book as an absolute must read.  It’s a great introduction to the brain and you will be able to pick up pearls regarding how the mind works.  Included is a model for understanding depression, anxiety disorder, anger, as well as those positive traits we demand of our leaders.  You won’t look at the world or your relationships the same after you read this book.  Before and since its publication there has been an explosion of research in the world of neurosciences and psychology exploring how and why we process emotions and how we learn and store information.

In a nutshell, the human brain is not only an organic computer, it’s also the most advanced computer we have ever encountered.  We are blessed to be living in exciting times as we, as a species, are beginning to unlock its secrets.  As we learn more and grow our appreciation of the sheer enormity of the demands we place on the brain for survival, it appears that the likelihood of developing an artificial intelligence that approaches the processing speed and nuance of our brain is, at least at this point in the 21st Century, utterly preposterous.

Concepts of emotion processing and brain function appear in subtle fashion throughout The Chronicles of Gillean – follow along as Dr. Benjamin Murray conducts his vicious neuro-interrogations and as Lt. Col. Jake Gillean wrestles with his inner demons.