This time last year, I was bursting with excitement because I’d just paid for my trip to Cuba and had something to which I could look forward. It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had.
This summer the only thing in my cards is the search for a new job…
What are you doing this summer?
If you want some help thinking about the answers to those questions, I highly recommend you read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
This book is brilliant! It’s packed with information (much of it new to me) but written in a witty, stimulating and totally accessible style. The whole time I was reading it I kept wishing I could sit in on one of Harari’s lectures!
One of my favourite sections comes early in the book (though you should absolutely read the whole thing). It’s Chapter Two: The Tree of Knowledge, in which Harari discusses the impact of language (for the purpose of “gossiping” about each other!) on our development as a species and explores the idea that we are bound together in our various groups (locally and globally) by our “collective imaginations” — our shared beliefs in myths and stories (or, as described in academia, ‘fictions’, ‘social constructs’ and ‘imagined realities’).
“Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persits, the imagined reality exerts force in the world. […] Most millionaires sincerely believe in the existence of money and limited liability companies. Most human-rights activists sincerely believe in the existence of human rights. […]
Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As times went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.”
Another favourite section is Chapter Seven: Memory Overload, which explores the development of written systems of communication. Read it to find out why Harari says…
“Writing was born as the maidservant of human consciousness, but is increasingly becoming its master.”
Sapiens is broad in its coverage (mathematics, anthropology, religion, psychology, evolution, geography, happiness and science, are just a few of the topics covered), and sweeping in many of its assessments, but that’s all it can be if it is to cover the whole history of humankind. It’s a well written, provocative and thoroughly engaging introduction to the study of human history. While it may not be the full meal, there is more than enough food for thought in this fascinating book to keep you from feeling a single hunger pang!
Have you read it? What do you think?
I’ve just finished watching the finale of Line of Duty, Series Four and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’ve been a huge fan of the show since the first series and it never disappoints. It’s gripping from the first episode to the last, and every plot twist points the finger of suspicion in a new direction!
I don’t want to give anything away so I suggest you watch it, if you haven’t already, and tell me in the comment section… Did you figure it out?
I know I may be accused of bias, but my niece has written an insightful piece reminding us of the brilliance of Beyonce’s powerful visual album, Lemonade. You HAVE to read it!
Can you believe it’s already been a year since it was released?
…Especially when life constantly gets in the way or trips you up just at the moment you break out a smile because you think you’ve managed to sneak around it to get to your computer and start writing.
I can hear all the super regular, post every Monday through Friday (and sometimes on Sunday) blogger people saying, “But if it’s really important to you…” Yeah. I know. Still…
I can’t believe I laughed when I committed to writing two blog posts a month. I thought it would be so easy. Surely, I told myself, any self-respecting, wanna-finally-be-a-writer can come up with two blog posts a month. Well, I can’t.
Actually, I can but a lot of the ideas I have could result in friends and/or family members filing lawsuits against me for indecent exposure (i.e., exposing some of our their indecencies), so all of those ideas get scrapped (i.e., stay safely hidden in the confines of my little black books which, for your information, are locked way in bomb-proof (okay maybe just lockpicker-proof) safety deposit boxes to be used as blackmail material for… umm… nothing.
And please don’t suggest that I write what I think about that giant, orange poop emoji occupying the White House across the pond. I just can’t right now.
Seriously though, what are some of the things that keep you from writing regular posts for your blog? What do you do about them?
Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger could easily be mistaken for models in an advertisement for Abercrombie and Fitch or Tommy Hilfiger clothing. They are not. Elva is a survivor of rape and Stranger is the perpetrator – Elva’s rapist. The two of them have written a book about the rape and are touring the world promoting it. Together.
Though I can’t imagine wanting to see a man who had raped me in any setting other than a courtroom or prison cell, I have absolutely no objection to Elva having chosen to heal from her ordeal in this way. Her way. What I do object to is the fact that Women of the World Festival (WOW) chose to include the Elva/Stranger performance piece, ‘South of Forgiveness’ in their programme of events. WOW is supposed to be a festival celebrating and honouring women. How does the presence of a known rapist who has never been prosecuted or punished for his crime, elevated onto a stage and lauded, sometimes applauded, for his willingness to accept responsibility for what he did to Elva (literally, the very least he could do), align with the purpose of the festival?
Women travel from all over the world to attend WOW. Many of those women come from countries in which they are shunned, cast out, punished and even murdered for the “crime” of having been sexually violated. What is WOW saying to them when they invite a rapist as a paid guest into their midst?
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at Southbank and founder of WOW, has said that one of her aims in hosting ‘South of Forgiveness’ is the opening up of the dialogue around rape so that it no longer focuses solely on the survivor of rape but extends to the perpetrator. I agree, men do need to be part of the discourse. Should it be Elva’s rapist that opens the discourse at a festival designed to celebrate and honour women? I think not.