Reading Sparks Conversations

So I was volunteering at a class last night (keeper of the nametags and statistics), and between the rush rush, there is a lot of down time. So I brought a couple of books to read. And my iPod to listen to. I can not tell you the number of people who stopped to comment about the book titles, since nobody seems to have actually read them. One was titled “The Future of Life” by Edward O. Wilson. I had read something else by Mr. Wilson, or he gets refererenced enough that his name is familiar, and oh yeah, he won a couple of Pulitzers for his writing. Anyway, when a friend and I were wandering through Goodwill (or that boutique store, GW, where all the items are one of a kind! like we like to call it) on my birthday last year, she let me pick out a few things and bought them for me as presents. This was one of them, and a Kate Spade handbag was the other. At a buck or two each, I was a very happy camper, and a very cheap date, as usual. Doesn’t take much to make me happy, what can I say?

I picked out this book because of the author. It is a fascinating read, published in 2002, but about all those topics that are so in our face in the news cycles these days (when they aren’t talking about financial things). Global warming, over population, invasive species of plants and animals and their impacts, extinctions, etc. Each chapter is about a different topic, and I can get through a chapter at a sitting, and then I have to read something a little less depressing. Mr. Wilson doesn’t write a depressing book, he’s just stating the facts, but the implications of what direction we are heading are not so positive. But that is the point of this book: it is us humans who are so drastically effecting changes on this planet, and it is us humans who can do something about it, but only through some action. Inaction will get us to where the obvious implications imply. Any action will change how the predictions play out. 

Some people took heart just from the title. “There is a future,” commented one man. “I was wondering.” And when I further explained what it was about, others nodded agreeably, and said things like it’s a teeter-totter, and every choice as to when we get off is bound to change the outcome. 

One doesn’t have to be green, liberal or anyhing to see that. Of course, it helps that where I was volunteering is a group committed to empowering people with their choices. Whatever they may be. 

So, eventually, I was going to switch to my second book, which also drew reactions. It was titled “Genius and Heroin” by Michael Largo. It’s a little encyclopedia of various famous people of genius, who ended their lives through their preferred medium of self destruction (not always heroin). A lot of the self-destruction was by whatever drug was most popular during their time, though alcohol has always been a perennial favorite. I mean, who kills themselves by absinthe these days? (Don’t bring up the changed formula of modern absinthe, it’s just not as popular a drink these days. But back in the day…)

I found it interesting that less people were willing to ask me about that book. Only the brave broached it, or people who knew me. Come on! The cover has little pictures of Freud, Poe, Cobain and Hendrix over crossbones, with a subtitle of: (and other variations, including pills, absinthe, crack, hash, martinis, bourbon, and sex) the illustrated catalogue of creativity, obsession, and reckless abandon through the ages. With a cover and subtitles like that, it fairly screams discussion. 

But alas. Apparently addictions and self annihilation are still taboo discussion topics, at least in polite society. Destruction of the eco-system, fair game. Human propensity for self-destruction, not so much.

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2 Responses to “Reading Sparks Conversations”

  1. gary Says:

    speaking of which, have any tattoos? Or are we too old?

  2. redroomsalon Says:

    Wait, how does it go from “speaking of which” about books to tattoos? 🙂

    Regardless, the answer is no. Not that I have not given it much thought. I have. But for the life of me I could not come up with anything that I know I believe or think now that for sure I would continue to believe or think in the future that I want to pronounce to any who sees my body. I mean, if we’ve already stripped my clothes off (because hey, I am lily white, and keeping my body covered is a matter of survival and not sheer prudery!), hopefully you already have a sense of who I am to get to that stage, so why do I need to proclaim anything?

    How about yourself? Or the missus? Or the pets?

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