The following is a standalone passage from a collection meant to deal with topics of psychology, philosophy and self-help.

The question is: Is the quirky style helpful in driving home the point, or does it take away from the seriousness of the topic? Or does it come across as satire? Or, more simply put, would you read a self-help style book peppered with passages written in a similar style?

The Oracle of All Wisdom put down the phone. He felt deeply disturbed. No doubt the caller derived much relief from the advice he had dispensed, as they always did. He wondered what they would think if they knew how inept he was at following his own advice. He in turn derived relief from the reassurances and advice he received from the Oracle of Oracles of All Wisdom, who in turn, turned to the Oracle of Oracles of Oracles of All Wisdom, and so on and so forth. In the end, nobody was good at following his own advice. However, when his own advice was given to him by another, when the same assurances he screamed to himself over and over were plainly spoken to him by another soul, everything changed. There was no Ultimate Oracle.

1 Answer 1


It is gentle humor. The fact that the tone is lighter-hearted does NOT detract at all. What DOES detract is the lengthiness. If the passage above were half the length that it is now, it would get the point across quite effectively.

The recursive business, about the Oracle of Oracles becomes belabored when so drawn out. Otherwise, it is a good way of demonstrating the point i.e. by asking another who also asks another, and only feels there is validity if advice comes from an external source, despite knowing the truth of it, rationally, on one's own already.

Alternating serious passages with slightly quirky ones like this seems quite acceptable, probably even good. Just remember to keep these sections brief. I read a quantitative finance book recently. It was targeted toward leisure readers, with an interest in the field. Unfortunately, there were SO many digressions that tried to illustrate concepts, particularly from the author's own life! Most weren't interesting at any greater length than a few sentences (but were drawn out into several pages). It was boring! That's why I suggest brief but frequent use of these sort of passages.

  • Thanks. I'm not sure I can condense this any further than eight sentences, but I'll keep it in mind when I write the next snippet.
    – HNL
    Feb 6, 2012 at 3:11
  • 1
    Was it Taleb Nassim?
    – SoWhat
    Feb 6, 2012 at 6:13
  • @SomeshMukherjee Are you clairvoyant? How did you know? I am laughing, that is wonderful! Professor Taleb is brilliant and articulate and amusing. But he goes on and on and... about things. It dilutes his content, reduces the impact, I think. He isn't the only one though. There are others, you can probably guess, there was a quant fin book published in Oct of last year, who do the same thing, but in a less entertaining manner. So cool that you knew who I was thinking of though!!! Feb 7, 2012 at 19:22
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    that's exactly how i felt reading his book. I felt they were good, but went on and on about one thing...gets a little tedious to read after the few sentences
    – SoWhat
    Feb 8, 2012 at 1:43

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