Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

What I read on my holidays

Didn't read much: Collapse, On becoming a person, A Maze of Death and Psychlone.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond

You probably know the gist of this book. Diamond reviews several examples of societies which have succumbed to population collapse, and examples of societies which have negotiated environmental danger without collapse. The main example of the former is the Viking settlement in Greenland, others include the Maya and Easter Island. Examples of the latter are Japan and Iceland, with modern Australia and Montana as societies facing environmental challenges. Instead of attributing collapse to one factor he traces multiple factors, for example by comparing different Polynesian islands which survived/became extinct. He draws limited lessons for the present day. For me the most worrying issue is that 'successful' negotiation of environmental danger seems to involve a level of social control which wouldn't be pleasant.

An interesting book, a bit windy in parts, ranging over multiple disciplines.

On becoming a person by Carl Rogers

A series of essays by the founder of person-centred therapy. A bit repetitive. I didn't finish it, but I'll continue to read it. His basic message is simple - therapy and all other relationships will be enhanced by sincerity and acceptance - human beings will put themselves right if they are given the chance. An optimistic and humanistic book by a thoroughly nice man.

A Maze of Death by Philip K Dick is the precise opposite. As such it is less sane, but a lot more entertaining. A group of middle class whiners colonise a planet and spend the whole time making themselves miserable (hey, didn't I dream this last week?). And then, this being Dick, paranoia breaks through and reality starts to disintegrate. Oh, and there's a nutty religious thing going on. And then we woke up and it wasn't a dream. Damn.

Psychlone by Greg Bear. What a disappointment. Bear has an excellent SF imagination, but this is a sub-Stephen King pot-boiler. I suppose he had to pay the rent.
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