Body Language by Julius Fast


Body Language, Julius Fast, 1967

My favorite quote: “The inheritance of instinct is not a simple matter, nor is the process of learning simple. It is difficult to pinpoint just how much of any system of communication is inherited and how much is learned. Not all behavior is learned, any more than it is all inherited, even in humans.” (This sent me down a rabbit-hole or two, let me tell you. Thanks, Julius Fast. I should have been writing or finishing my cross-stitch “Jesus Playing with Bunnies” quilt — but no. Instead, I was reading about inherited versus learned body language and human behavior) 

Most interesting characters: As a non-fiction book, Body Language doesn’t really have ‘characters’ in it (unless you count Julius Fast) so I really wish you’d stop asking me to name the characters in books that very clearly don’t have any (it’s like talking to a brick wall, you guys)

Opening scene: Julius Fast’s Body Language opens with a chapter called, ‘The Body is a Message,’ which sums up the basics of the science of non-verbal communication, thus setting the stage for the rest of the book

The gist: Body Language centers on the science of kinesics wherein author Julius Fast, a pre-med major at New York University, breaks down the unconscious physical signals telegraphed by human beings of the 1970s 

Greatest strengths: While Body Language is readable and moderately interesting, I didn’t come away with any real new insights. Not only because it’s impossible to exist on this planet for a while without picking up the basic clues covered in this book, but because, despite the promises it makes, Body Language doesn’t offer anything concrete. Because it can’t. Body language means different things from different people at different times under different circumstances. That man folding his arms? He’s mad, right? Not necessarily. Maybe he’s cold, you judgy jerk. Is he closed off to your ideas? Maybe. Or maybe that’s just a comfortable position for him. Again, quit being so judgy, you jackass. You don’t know him! The point is, body language in and of itself is a tenuous communicator at best. I’m more inclined to put my eggs in the instinct basket. Meaning that I’ve gotten a lot more mileage from taking note of those quiet little internal knee-jerk responses I get from people and situations. Language (including body language) shifts and evolves, but instinct, in my experience, never lies  

Standout achievements: I’m sure this book was pretty groundbreaking when it was first published about 60 years ago (it sold three million copies and was the first of its kind to use the phrase ‘body language’) but it’s pretty old hat now. That said, despite some very serious thank-you-Captain-Obvious moments (see that lady scowling? She’s not happy) I think Julius Fast did a fair job conveying the information. But if it has a “standout” achievement, it has to be that vintage cover with the vintage woman on it (assuming you find the same copy I did). I love it. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll make that my next cross-stitch pattern (but not till I’m done with my “Jesus Playing with Bunnies” quilt, which I’ve already put seven and a half years into — I’m almost done with the Lord’s holy face and although He looks more like Charles Manson than the Savior right now, I will not rest until it is done. I figure, worst case, I’ll make it “Charles Manson Playing with Bunnies” and pretend I meant to do it that way all along.) But I digress (which is a fancy way of saying I can’t focus on shit and went into left field again.) The point is, Julius Fast’s Body Language is a decent book. If you’re looking to learn how the ancient peoples of the 1970s communicated without words, Body Language might the book for you

Fun Facts: in 1946, Julius Fast was the very first recipient of the Edgar Award (given by the Mystery Writers of America) for best first novel. As a side note, in 1946, my mother wasn’t even a twinkle in my grandma’s eye. Not that my grandma’s eyes twinkled very often. It was more like they kind of just … drilled holes into you. Unless she’d been drinking. Then they twinkled.  Oh, you’ve never seen a happier, brighter-eyed woman driving me to school on the days my mother was out with another one of her “headaches.” Good times. But again, I digress …  

Other media: It would be awesome if they made Julius Fast’s Body Language into a movie. Just a bunch of people moving around silently. Wait, they did that. It was called the 1920s. Sigh. You know, sometimes, it’s like every single good idea I have is already taken. It’s just horseshit is what it is 

Additional thoughts: For some reason the name Julius Fast makes my mouth water. Probably because it makes me think of drinking an Orange Julius really fast, which also gives me phantom brain-freeze. And that puts me in the perfect state of mind to go lay down some serious work on my “Jesus/Chuck Manson Playing with Bunnies” cross-stitch 

Hit or Miss: Eh, let’s just put it somewhere right down the middle and call it good. I liked it but it could have been bigger and more stimulating (that’s what she said)

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Read Body Language

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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