Nuclear War and the Periodic Table @ BYOB Party in March 2018 (Part 2)
There was a bit of doom and gloom in the BYOB Party.
Archit got the famous book Sapiens by Yuval Harari. We’ve talked about the book many times. It made sense that the book he bought with it was Has Man a Future? by Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers of the twentieth century. The book was written during the Cold War when the world was on the brink of nuclear war. What struck Archit as scary was that book is relevant even today. Even today, disarmament hasn’t turned into a collective objective with guns entering classrooms and nuclear warheads raising their heads in political banter. The possibility of a nuclear war is not exaggerated.
Although Sapiens means Wise, the term is at best ironic. In the book, Sapiens, Harari explains how man evolved and hasn’t become wiser. He seemed to have been better off in the pre-agricultural era when he was a hunter-gatherer. This was the only time in recorded history that he was aware of the food that he ate and the true nature of his surroundings. An argument grew around this- can anyone know everything? Doesn’t the very reason for stratification and division of labor stem from the fact that knowledge is shared property? Since there is a discrepancy in the time required for evolution to occur and the lightning speed of the human brain, inequality is the norm. Human beings have always tipped the scale and so this whole idea of an equal society in pursuit of happiness is silly. Sapiens is an important book simply because of the arguments it encourages. Part 2 of the book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is equally horrific in the way it lays bare mankind’s stupidity.
Amrutha talked about a six-part sci-fi story set in a dystopian world where only Korea remains, the rest having being destroyed by nuclear war, and mentioned how human beings are reborn as their prehistoric ancestors. Can anyone tell me which book this is? All my google searching didn’t help.
Ritu was spurred to get a copy of a book she read long ago when she was young and later again when she was older. The book called The Periodic Table by Primo Levi is a series of short stories which tells the author’s own story- his experience being an Italian Jewish chemist during the World War era, a particularly unfortunate time to be Jewish. Each story in the book is named after a particular element, which very cleverly becomes heavier and heavier towards the end of the book. The book begins with so much promise but towards the end, the author must face the concentration camp. Although the ending is sad, it feels like dusk, Ritu says, beautiful and filled with color but with the heaviness of the ending day.
Amrutha read this book too and wondered how teachers could make a subject like chemistry so boring. “You need to include one of these chapters in the school curriculum,” she said. That’s a nice thought.