Book Corner

harari  21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens being the best book I have read in recent memory, and Homo Deus coming close behind, this had a lot to live up to.  It had strong and weak parts.  It could get repetitive.  The structure was very good – one “lesson” leading into another, each one feeling complete and there for a reason.  When it was good, it was very good.  I have no fewer than eight little sticky notes sticking out of it pointing to excellent quotes.  Here are some:

“Panic is a form of hubris.  It comes from the smug feeling that one knows exactly where the world is heading: down.”

“We are now creating tame humans that produce enormous amounts of data and function as very efficient chips in a huge data-processing mechanism, but these data cows hardly maximize the human potential.”

“[Facebook] and the other online giants tend to view humans as audio-visual animals – a pair of eyes and a pair of ears connected to ten fingers, a screen, and a credit card.”

“We must realize that nothing the terrorists do can defeat us.  We are the only ones who can defeat ourselves, if we overreact in a misguided way to their provocations.”

“Apparently ape leaders developed the tendency to help the poor, the needy, and the fatherless millions of years before the Bible instructed ancient Israelites that they should [do the same]…”

He ends with a chapter on meditation on a slightly more personal note.  Serious talk about meditation always leaves me with three questions: What motivates Buddhists to get up in the morning?  Why shouldn’t I work with the nature of my mind rather than against it?  If many fictions are useful, why not use them?

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