With modern technology, media, and communication, one can access unlimited amounts of whatever one wants. For me, I went “extreme reality.” For years I selected entertainment that was pure non-fiction of some form. The following is a short list of the most mind-blowing descriptions of reality that I consumed, either by reading or listening:
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I include this mostly because so many people mention it when discussing reality topics. It is good, but it takes a distant second place to Sapiens.
The History of our World in 18 Minutes, TED Talk by David Christian. Fascinating, just what the title says. The universe in 18 minutes. What to Watch 6
What is so Interesting about the Human Brain, TED Talk by Suzana Herculano-Houzel. Mind-blowing. “Man smart, therefore man make fire,” … ? No. Well yes, but, “Man make fire, therefore man get smarter.” The cause-effect is reversed according to her because of food energy. Makes sense. What to Watch 6
The Fall and Rise of China, a lecture series in The Great Courses, by Richard Baum. I listened to this beginning to end twice. The extremes of the Chinese Communist Party and China in general as a country are absolutely shocking.
What to Watch 24: Energy of an Industrialized Society. I do a pretty good job here of putting modern energy consumption in historical context – in under four minutes.
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. This is focused on US military experience and connects the experience to our human need to feel belonging in small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding.
Sand Talk, by Tyson Yunkaporta, a look at global systems from the indigenous perspective. Imagine there is an indigenous university with an anthropology department studying industrialized global systems. What he says is recognizable in everyday life.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Horari. This is the real kicker. If you want to skip the rest of reality, start with this. Every chapter, you are left thinking, “My God, no way. But yeah, sounds about right.” I personally think he goes too far in predicting a hyper-tech bionic man future with aspirations of “a-mortality,” but maybe I’m just hoping.
Sapiens asserts that a unique quality of humans is our complex language, our ability to communicate complex imagined realities, and our ability to act in unity on shared imagined realities. As he described what appears to be the probable objective reality, I felt the strong urge to immediately stop reading, and curl up into a ball until I can forget what he said and return to the blissful ignorance of human fantasy-land.
My favorite novel is The Great Gatsby. I read it for the second time in 2015 and that may be the last time I read a novel. But now it’s time to return to fiction.