Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Reading Between Years, Somehow About the Anthropocene

Often I read several books in parallel. It is enriching because of the feedback between different matters and the competition of the authors for the reader's attention.

The ongoing reading is a triphthong of 'Thinking fast and slow' by Daniel Kahneman, 'Die Unterwerfung der Welt: eine Globalgeschichte der europäischen Expansion 1415-2015' by Wolfgang Reinhard, and 'Germany – Memories of a Nation' by Neil MacGregor; now finished.

The latter book caught my fullest attention, also because it came in a favourite position. It was a birthday present of a brother and it was a paper edition. Why got it my attention? First, when children play around, then reading a paper book (that is a present) still feels more social as reading an ebook (Sorry Daniel!). Reinhard's book is physically out of reach at our second place of living. So, Neil had an eased game. However his book relates to the work of the other authors and that feature captured my attention immediately.

Neil reflects how [collective] culture is perceived and expressed within Germany; taking a [somewhat British] look on German history. His arguments are well researched and resonate with the reader (me) to a fair degree. However the arguments are mainly associative, and I wonder what kind of association a French, Russian or Italian author may offer.

This kind of [rapid] associative thinking [compared to slow reflective thinking] is what Daniel describes as “system 1” at the level of the individual; i.e. our ability to come up with [first and sometimes wrong] answers nearly instantaneous. Neil's book indicates that the same manner of thinking also might be found at collective, cultural level; possibly describing what other would call a “meme” [*]; i.e. a self-replicating idea. When this view is correct, it is to ask 'what is system 2' [Daniel's notion] at cultural and collective level?

Going beyond an introspective view, Neil describes power projection in German and European context. The projection [mainly] is by soft means, however often taken up once the hard action had been taken. Power projection is the subject of Reinhard's book; in European and at global context. As an historian Reinhard describes the purposeful articulation of soft and hard means and names the actor, or group of actors who project the power. Neil tells more about those who had been instrumental, so that projection comes possible.

I' m looking forward to read more of the Daniel's and Reinhard's book, possibly in junction with further works. To that end my upcoming reading likely will include 'Earth in Human Hands – shaping our planet's future' by D. Grinspoon and 'The Culture of Growth – the origin of modern economy' by J.Mokyr or 'The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective' by Robert C. Allan.

These books came into focus because of my past reading, e.g. 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson. The latter extends the current reading into both, the wider history of enlightenment at the root of a scientific world view and the specific path of gathering understanding of how our planet evolved including our species; both subjects are an European and an unfinished project. The upcoming reading is much about the making of the Anthropocene, its past chapter and a possible coming chapter. The past chapter concerns, again an European project, i.e. the making of the industrial revolution. The coming chapter, evidently is a global chapter although with strong, when not hegemonial European taint. Europe a group of people that projected their views to any place all over the globe. When that is fact, what does it imply, e.g. in terms of responsibility. I wonder what Neil may...

[*] “A meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture". A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. ”

No comments:

Post a Comment