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Review of Whispering in the Wind

(a new book by Carmen Bostic St. Clair and John Grinder)
Wolfgang Walker (NLP Berlin-Brandenburg)

I'd say that I experience Whispering in the Wind similarly to the ending of a long cold and dark winter on the first sunny day in spring - probably not too good a metaphor for two (at least for the most part) congenial minds living in sunny California. So let me state it in other terms: Whispering in the Wind to me is like a spring of clean, clear and sparkling water in an originally beautiful landscape increasingly contaminated with muddy puddles.
Although the advertisements in NLP still claim to sell the beautiful landscape for an adventurous journey, I strongly felt a more and more increasing gap between the sold image and the actual reality in the NLP scene as I observed it. And after all my experiences as a member of the board of the German NLP association (from 1998 until 2001) made clear to me, that most of us had left the path that seemed to be intended in former days …
But let me go back to Whispering in the Wind. In my opinion this work is outstanding and something very special in quite a few regards:
1. As far as I have an overview of the publications in NLP, I would say that Whispering in the Wind is the first book since more than 20 years that follows the series of fundamental NLP books that ended with the publication of Neuro-linguistic Programming, Volume I in 1980. I am aware of the fact that there were some important contributions to the NLP field by various gifted people throughout the last 20 years, but from my perspective Whispering in the Wind is the only book since 1980 that makes the effort to add something new to the basics of NLP in a serious and precise manner. So I'll take my hat off to you both!

2. I also was sadly aware of the lack of theoretical work underpinning and developing further NLPmodelling and NLPapplication (quite a good differentiation). But I was never wondering about that ... Why? ... The answer is quite clear to me: When I carried out my own investigations about the origins and backgrounds of NLP that resulted in the publication of Abenteuer Kommunikation in 1996, I found that this lack of theoretical work in NLP was a natural consequence of the fact, that the core piece that constitutes a (more or less) scientific field was never published by Bandler and yourself (John) - at least wasn't published in a sufficient way. That's why I'm extremely glad since some days.

From my perspective one of the most remarkable features of Whispering in the Wind is that - for the first time - it enables a serious theoretical discourse about the basics of NLP. You both have put some stakes in the field of NLP that will serve as attractors for a theoretical discussion among interested NLPers and researchers. For the first time now it is possible to find precisely formulated starting points for a rational discourse - as well among NLPers as from the academic side. I hope that future will show how courageous, wise and fruitful for the further development of NLP this step has been, because by formulating the theoretical underpinnings of NLP in such a precise manner you did also open up the whole field for a critical examination of the attractors you put in place. I'm very hopeful that this will bring a dialectic evolution of the field with it.
3. What I also want to appreciate very much is the wide range of topics you systematically covered in this book. This great variety of issues will hopefully help a lot to stimulate a variety of talented people to start a serious discourse about this all. The remaining question is: Where? ... After Peter Winnington has finished the publication of NLP World, I don't see a new forum for the international NLP scene yet. Maybe the web and more specifically the website (www.nlpwhisperinginthewind.com will open up new possibilities here. What's also missing up to this day is a kind of (better small than big) conference - only with selected people who would like to contribute something to the discourse you both have (re-)opened. Such a conference would possibly bring enough material with it to be published for a broader public. And the more controversial and intelligent these discussions are, the more everyone will see that NLP isn't just a belief system and a series of hypnotic inductions from two weird Californian guys who had taken too many drugs. I think the reactions to the contents of Whispering in the Wind will show, if this characteristic of every scientific discipline will show up in the NLP field one day.

4. Let me also remark how impressed I am by the personal narratives of the early days you have published. I think that these stories provide a special pleasure for me personally as you (John) publish material like that for the first time yourself. Sure - there were some glimpses one could get on the wild days through stories in your published workshops. And one or the other participant published some stories in articles or books. But one never knew if these incidents did really happen or if they were just useful metaphors in a specific context. Also enlightening for me was your discussion about formal thinking and the influence of Chomsky's work on NLP. That's been the first time I read something from NLPers about these issues that sounds competent.

To sum it up I'd like to say that I hope the worldwide NLP scene will recognize what this book really is - a historical milestone in the development of NLP. And if this work will be taken note of in the way it deserves it, I'm very hopeful that it will help to put an end to the increasing tendency to erode the meaning of the term "NLP" by mixing it up with everything.

Maybe this book should have been published twenty years ago. But one never knows. If there still is enough commitment and substance in the NLP scene, this somewhat belated publication will turn out as a second chance for the whole project called "NLP".

And by saying that, I'd like to ask my fellow NLPers worldwide to join into the discourse you both opened and put the attractors that are set now to a critical and constructive examination. Let's go for it!