Monday, February 9, 2009
For a psychedelic experience, minus the drugs, check out "S Curve" in the lobby of the Sackler, by Anish Kapoor.
The fact that Jared Diamond characterized the Inkas as "naive" bothered me to the very end of the book Guns, Germs and Steel. A lot of things about that book bothered me.
I'm not saying that Guns, Germs and Steel is a total waste of time. It got me thinking about many things, got me wondering "why?" over and over again. Revisionary history is one of my favorite topics. But I wouldn't recommend the book. In fact, even though it was published only twelve years ago, recent revelations about - for instance - the "written" language of the Inkas (they used a binary system of knot tying to "write") clearly shows that a lot of Diamond's theories are past their expiration date. The Inkas were anything but naive! Charles Mann's explanation of European conquest on this continent (and in S. America) rang much closer to the truth, if you ask me. His book, 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, is great.
As you can see, I had many arguments with the Diamond book, but I read it anyway because I'm curious, not just about the how and what and when of the world, but also, the why. Are there other animals who strive so hard to understand the why of the world?
The itch to understand is one of our species' most adorable traits, at least I think so. And, too, it gets us into so much trouble. I can tell you from personal experience my intense why curiosity has gotten me into a world of hurt, over and over again.
Even as I write this I'm wondering what to read next. In spite of all the trouble-making a curious mind creates, I indulge the part of me who asks "WHY?" again and again. Why? Beats me. Do you know?
Mama said there'd be days like this.