One review on the front portion of the hardbound book said that Matthew E. May’s In Pursuit of Elegance “keeps in the spirit of my all time favorite “Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb. Naturally, I prioritized this reading material for that very reason. I had high expectations, and out of a five-star rating, I’d give this book a 4.
In terms of ideas, I can say that it can be at par with Taleb’s masterpiece, although I am not perfectly happy with the writing style and lack of vocabulary in some sentences. (#sorry #grammarnazi) But it is one of those books with a long lasting impact; it’s the type of book that will resonate with you long after you’ve read it.
While Taleb’s Black Swan debunked statistics and the foundations of the bell curve in his book, May was more of the intellectual minimalist with his arguments on how elegance is tied to qualities of being seductive and subtractive. His descriptions of real life stories applying the principles are fascinating; I never imagined that the concept will be at play in such diverse applications. Now, I fully understood what he meant when a Jackson Pollock painting has synonymous qualities to Steve Jobs’ iPhone product.
True to the book’s spirit, the book was quite concise. Notwithstanding some of the tiny but glaring grammar errors I noticed in between chapters, I am happy that I prioritized the book. I had another friend in mind while I was reading it, and I decided to send him a copy just to pick his brain and see what he thinks of the insights that was written there.
After reading it, I had the urge to change the layout of my site to apply some of the principles he outlined in his book. It’s highly influential and it really made me think long and hard about my life choices and even the basic things like my blog’s user interface.
While I succeeded in making a more suitable design for Helena, I am still “hacking” my life at the moment and seeing how I can implement that book’s useful tips at a much larger scale. I am all for a sustainable and elegant solution to the bulky problems of life. I did realize that over the years, while I gained some credentials, I am at a constant danger of losing that crucial skill of resourcefulness and thinking out of the box. I used to possess the unparalleled audacity which allows me to quickly implement wild solutions at any time that I choose to. But at the moment, I am stumped and constrained by the reality that I am no longer as young and as daring as I was ten years ago.