Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Theodore Zeldin's "An Intimate History of Humanity."

Of course, as a heteroclitic (heteroclitician?),
 I enjoy genre-defying   or
             genre-denying books..


books can rock.....
                    when done well, mixed genre
                                                fixed genre.

One of the great gifts is genre-subversion.

How about history books that are




How obvious is that?

Do check out Theodore Zeldin's "An Intimate History of Humanity."


"As we leave behind, one hopes, a culture of quantitative, linear, abstract, cold tabulations of human experience, Theodore Zeldin's An Intimate History of Humanity offers one attractive way to reflect on the nature of just about everything. His world is vernacular, personal without being personalistic, full of information alchemized into wisdom, pleasurable, witty, unsentimental, and concerned - virtues not in vogue in the realm of cultural remembrance. It's a book to enjoy, pure and simple." 
--- Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Soul Mates

"An intellectually dazzling view of our past and future."--Time Magazine

"Extraordinary and beautiful...the most exciting and ambitious work of non-fiction I have read in more than a decade" -- Maggie Gee Daily Telegraph 

 "Theodore Zeldin's all-embracing history of our feelings throughout the ages [is] brilliantly original and unsettling... His scope is dazzling... A seductive and unusually thought provoking book" Sunday Telegraph 

"Bubbling wit... Zeldin makes life exciting for the reader. It is like being on some careering fair-ground ride that whirls you from one limelit fragment of civilisation to the next at breakneck speed...gatecrashing all the cultures of the world" Spectator 

"It's the sort of book that will go on being famous long after we're all dead... If ever a volume deserved that overused ecomium "this book will change your life", it is this one" Oxford Today
 Oxford historian Theodore Zeldin has taken the academically unfashionable step of writing a book which aims to change our lives. It is an accessible, audacious and thought- provoking work which presents history as a liberating force, one which can reveal the multiplicity of human possibilities, and thereby free us from the impasses of the present.Zeldin's title is somewhat misleading. This is no history in the chronological sense, nor is it specifically a study of love and friendship. Rather, the book asks a host of questions about the nature of human needs and desires, amounting to a grand survey of the ends of life -The Independent

I don't know where to start..

so let's just post a quote on two hot topics:





"Sex is the miracle which makes humans, who are normally frightened by strangers, feel attracted to some of them...Pornography had its holy books...Even Christianity, the religion of love, has been afraid of sexual love, confining it strictly to marriage, which Luther compared to a hospital that cured lust  (96, 102)

That has been shown too by churches all over the world which have been trying to talk to one another. Negotiations to reconcile  points of divergence in their theological positions have seldom drawn them much closet, for that involves defining their identity,which has usually led them to draw more rigid frontiers than existed in practice, ignoring the fuzzy edgesThe first World Parliament of Churches, which met in Chicago in 1893, and the World Council of Churches (established 1945) have been almost fruitless as disarmament conferences, even if there have been some reconciliations,  even if different sects collaborate in such tasks as the translation of the Bible. There is still no sign of an end to wars of religion.  Churches as institutions have been as reluctant as nations to compromise their sovereignty. The great surge in hospitality between religions has been due mainly to individuals and informal groups  interested in reviving the primitive spirit of religion, ignoring  the caution of those who hold power, and expressing their faith by devoting themselves to the disadvantaged.

But humanitarian organisations quickly discovered that they were not immune to sectarianism, and have laso found themselves fragmenting into rival sects, just like the churches . 'When one tries to start a fraternity, one raises up hatred. " the wars between philanthropists  are the worst of all, says the  says the founder of Médecins sans Frontiéres, Bernard Kouchner. "The organisers quarrel among themselves for control of the victims of disasters and fight to the death amongst themselves after having  risked their lives together' All the experience of history confirms that sharing the same beliefs has been a preliminary to quarrelling about their interpretation Co-operation has worked best between those who have only a few aims in common, who are not rivals, who are untroubled by thoughts about who should control whom: when they come from different origins and intend to return once their mission is accomplished, there may be friction, but there have been fewer cancerous animosities. Close encounters must, in part, remain distant too.

That is why hospitality between believers and unbelievers holds our particular promise, now that the war is almost over between them, now that churches are no longer attempting to dominate government and, having become poor once more, are turning their attention to the poor, emphasizing compassion more than dogma  and human relations more than ritual. In practicebelievers and unbelievers often find themselves on the same side when faced by violence or injustice, and in such circumstances, the crucial difference between them  -- belief in God and a sacred text — becomes a stimulus to the imagination of both, when the believers discuss their doubts and the unbelievers reflect on their own search for values..  They are made to be intermediaries to each other's worlds  (458-9)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!