An Important Book Review by Wade Davis

Crazy Horse Memorial

I have just modified my September post, As Geopolitical Luck Would Have It, after reading Wade Davis’ Guardian review of Jared Diamond’s latest book, The World Until Yesterday. Mr. Davis’ review adds a new perspective to Jared Diamond’s work. Davis believes that Diamond still suffers from First World naiveté when he thinks that all our approach to sustainability needs is some tweaking based on an appreciation of how the indigenous understand a respect for the environment. Davis believes that we need to come to respect this perspective for what it truly is: a worldview that is just as valid and developed as our own – perhaps more valid if we really want to survive as a species.

The review is very much worth reading. Thanks to Brian K. Murphy for forwarding it to me.

Another thoughtful and very frank review of The World Until Yesterday from http://www.thedailybeast.com… This from January 30.

As Geopolitical Luck Would Have It

Note 1: This blog is republished under a new title from my old site. It is from April, 2010 but bears repeating. The opinions remain mine and the authors’ truths are timeless.

Note 2: Here is a link to a January 9th, 2013 Guardian review of Jared Diamond’s latest book, The World Until Yesterday by none other than Wade Davis. It is quite enlightening. Wade Davis makes the important criticism that there is still a sense in Diamond’s eloquently humane, but anthropologically naive, work that the fundamental paradigm of the superiority of the European worldview is alive and well. Diamond  simply believes that the West can benefit from tweaking derived from insight contributed by an appreciation of the way in which indigenous cultures relate to the unity of all living things on the Earth. Davis, on the other hand, recognizes that the apparently primitive indigenous approaches to understanding and to life are equally valid ways of living and that European  peoples need to recognize this if we are to survive. Only a new appreciation of the complete validity and worth of indigenous worldviews will take us where we hope to go: alive into the next century.

OK. Back to the original post:

I don’t know exactly when I bought the paperback version of Jared Diamond’s great book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, published in 1997 or 1999 (those Copyright notes are confusing), but it was possibly as early as 2004. I soon got distracted (saw something shiny, maybe) and put it down, probably somewhere around page 100. I finally finished it yesterday, all the way to the end of the 2003 afterward – page 440, after several other shiny objects interfered. My friend, Bill, called me a while back and mentioned being impressed by it, which reminded me that I owned it. I was impressed with the fact that Bill seems to have plowed through it at what seems to me like Mach 2, but why should anything he does surprise me? He seems to be able to do so many things energetically (and well), often with brilliantly funny self-effacement. Anyway, after working my way to page 200, I became obsessively determined to finish it and must have raced through the second half in less than two months!

You might have gathered that it’s not an easy read. The Da Vinci Code it is not! But Diamond is one of three authors concerned with the people and other living things on this Planet that are worth taking out your highlighter (if your memory is as short as mine) and plowing through. Continue reading “As Geopolitical Luck Would Have It”

Endangered Human Faculties

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The famous 12-cornered stone in Cuzco

Photo credit: David Stanley

The slide I personally took, in 1967, of this brilliant, iconic piece of masonry disappeared in 1972 when my wife, Anita, and I  moved from England to Canada, where I was born. Eighty choice slides from my two month South America trip somehow didn’t come with us or in our separately-shipped trunks. But that’s another story.

My topic is not about lost slides; it’s about lost ways of thinking, speaking, listening and doing. There is as much, likely more, human creativity, intelligence and “spirituality” in this one stone from the wall of Inca Roca than  in the bloated speeches of today’s politicians and works of some popular writers.

Manual dexterity is, today, disrespected. Those artisans who work with their hands in our first world are losing their jobs to robots, offshore workers and offshore workers running offshore robots.

Continue reading “Endangered Human Faculties”