Tag Archives: future

REVIEW: BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED

Brave New World Revisited Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You can read the book for free on Huxley.net but I recommend you read it either off-screen or not on a web page.

It’s been demonstrated time and time again that people who can come up with incredible, fictional worlds that have something tangible to say about our own, have the ability to do so exactly because they understand this Earth and universe so well. Huxley was no exception, and his addendum to Brave New World is a beautifully lucid account of where his original work, written 25 years previously, had failed to anticipate the great emerging forces that were threatening freedom as Huxley perceived them at the time. This list of the book’s chapters might give you some idea of what those threats were:

I Over-Population
II Quantity, Quality, Morality
III Over-Organization
IV Propaganda in a Democratic Society
V Propaganda Under a Dictatorship
VI The Arts of Selling
VII Brainwashing
VIII Chemical Persuasion
IX Subconscious Persuasion
X Hypnopaedia
XI Education for Freedom
XII What Can Be Done?

I’m incredibly curious what Huxley would have to say about our 21st century society and where his hopes would lie today – whether he’d still think that

“meanwhile there is still some freedom left in the world. Many young people, it is true, do not seem to value freedom. But some of us still believe that, with­out freedom, human beings cannot become fully hu­man and that freedom is therefore supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them. “

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REVIEW: CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Cultural AnthropologyCultural Anthropology by William A. Haviland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Phew! Finally done with this 500-page+ undertaking of a textbook. Reviewing textbooks is kind of weird, but I have to say that staying with this book and reading it bit by bit over almost a period of two years has made me seriously consider studying (cultural) anthropology more formally. I mean I already have a BA in Cultural Technology, why not add some cultural anthropology in there?

Seriously, after reading this book, my official position is that anthropology is for the humanities what physics is to the hard sciences—psychology would be mathematics and sociology would be chemistry. Just like studying physics, studying anthropology (especially combined with cultural studies) you can’t help but look at reality and your circumstances from a more detached standpoint, more objectively as it were. You get to see that your life is the result of the mixture of an endless array of possible sets of circumstances. It teaches humility, it teaches tolerance, curiosity, it awakens a deeper awareness of what being a human person in a world of human and non-human persons is all about.

I still think it’s about laughing, cooking and listening to/ playing music, but that’s just me.

My favourite chapters were on sex and marriage, art, patterns of subsistence food, language, cultural change and the anthropology of futurology. Any overlap with any of my more general interests, including what I believe to be the fundamentals of human culture as exposed above, is purely coincidental, I swear.

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REVIEW (TWO IN ONE): THE LONG DESCENT & THE ECOTECHNIC FUTURE

The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial AgeThe Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age by John Michael Greer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently read two of Mr. Greer’s books,
The Long Descent
and The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World. This review is for both of them, as they made me feel and think more or less the same things. For your information, both share the same ideological and theoretical ideas, but they were different in some aspects: The Long Descent’s explanation of what the myth of progress is and how and why it came about I enjoyed more, while it was the practical information, tips, guidelines, the rough sketches of the direction humanity should/will be taking in the next few decades or centuries and the different aspects and challenges of life in the future that I thought were exceptionally valuable in The Ecotechnic Future.

Some have expressed the problems of The Long Descent as in this review, especially related to the more practical aspects of recycling old technology. If you disregard these problems, or are willing to accept them for what they are or look into them for alternatives, these are tremendous books that serve as manuals on theoretical, philosophical and practical levels on how to perceive what’s imperceptible for most people in the present, prepare for the future and predict what it might look like and understand history in a different way which would raise plenty of eyebrows.

Nevertheless, Greer’s argument is incredibly solid. He presents the myth/religion of progress, the inevitability and unavoidable reality of the long peak-oik collapse and the fact that any suggested workaround that comes from the same “myth of progress” mental space as void of meaning and practicality, so convincingly, so eloquently, so overwhelmingly… I have few words left to express without exaggeration my level of admiration and approval I can show to this man.

He may be a druid (just adding it here because for some people it’s a minus, for me it’s a plus), he may have chosen to live without a cell phone or never tried playing video games, he may be “anti-science” or “anti-progress” (silly words coming from people who don’t but superficially grasp the meaning of these concepts), but few times have a I read the work of a man more in line with what I understand the true scientific spirit to be and only rarely do I come across the writings of a person who’s done his or her homework so deeply on what he or she’s purportedly against.

I’m serious. This is a challenge for you, if you’re up to it: persuade me that the points raised by these books and Greer’s work are moot. I can tell you from now that if you try you won’t be able to and will most likely resort to some variation of the typical “it will sort itself out/they will figure something out” or “it’s the next generation’s problem”, that are the popular ways of handling the prospect of the decline of industrial civilization today.

Mr. Greer’s work is not for everyone, but in my view it should be: almost every person living today, especially if their age marks them as young, would benefit from experiencing looking at industrial society and civilization through the prism future generations, who will live by scavenging iron off skyscrapers, to give one particularly memorable prediction off these books, will judge us by. It’s quite a revealing, shocking but also strangely rewarding experience.

The matters laid out by The Ecotechnic Future and The Long Descent form a significant part of what has been bothering me lately and will most likely influence my future decisions. For that I’m grateful. Not happy, at least not yet, how can one be happy when he or she has realised the profundity of his or her own uselessness, but grateful nevertheless.

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