zondag 22 oktober 2023

World of Patterns reviewed in Marginalia Review of Books

This is a very deep and cool review of my book in the Marginalia Review of Books by Daniel Woolf:

"Why is it, I wondered, that books such as this seem to be appearing at a great rate, works of synthesis aimed at telling “biggest possible picture” stories? Apart from long-span global histories of this or that discipline or group of disciplines, the “Big” and “Deep” history genres associated with the likes of David Christian and Daniel Lord Smail have struck a chord with readers, as have popular best-sellers such as Yuval Harari’s Sapiens (2014). Bod’s book is obviously a significant contribution to this macro-historical approach, and it operates at a higher level than many. In fact, the closest comparator I’ve come across recently is the equally brave, if more Eurocentric, work of a father and son team, Ricardo and David Nirenberg, Uncountable, which takes an even more reductive approach (and I do not intend that term invidiously but in Bod’s sense of “simplifying and ordering”), envisioning the progress of human knowledge as straightforward, multi-millenial dialectic between “sameness” and “difference”, apathia (unchangeability) and pathia (mutability)—what if we were to adopt Bod’s language, one might call meta-patterns that determine lesser patterns. Another such work (though one this reader found less compelling), would be The Dawn of Everything: a New History of Humanity by the late David Graeber and David Wengrow. Perhaps, like the post-ancients who sought to reduce the number of patterns and principles, our Zeitgeist now favours synthesis and integration, a reasonable reaction to the narrowness and general inaccessibility of a good deal of scholarship emerging in ever greater volume from academic presses and increasingly sub-specialized journals."

Click here for the full review.