School is underway, the weather has finally turned cool, the air crisp and its officially Autumn. So, let’s fall into reading.
I am reading Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight, and I was struck by the quote from Olive: “There is the presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly”. Think about that. What Olive is saying is that we are all connected. We carry a piece of everyone we meet, for whatever brief a time. Our character is shaped both in large and small ways by our interactions with other human beings. That resonates with me because I do believe that is true. Aristotle famously wrote: “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human”.
If you prefer the scientific to the philosophical, Daisy Christabel, a Social Cognitive/Neuroscientist at the University of London has written:
“It is not due to our cognitive capabilities that we are the highest species in the phylogenetic scale – we have certain social abilities that other animals do not have — we are aware of ourselves and how we relate to other people, where we fit in among them”. We are most comfortable when we’re connected, sharing emotions and stories.
Human beings are communal animals and as such our relationships are an important piece in defining who we are. We want to achieve this state of human communion; it’s a mistake to think that most humans prefer the solitary life that so much of modern life imposes on us.
Congratulations to Esi Edugyan on being shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her novel Washington Black. The Man Booker Prize is awarded to writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK and Ireland. This is the second time Ms. Edugyan has been on the list. Previously she was a finalist in 2011 for her book Half-Blood Blues, which won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Washington Black is also on the long list for this year’s Giller.
What I’m reading:
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
Remainder by Tom McCarthy
What I’m looking forward to reading:
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Read her personal essay here: Growing up in the Library – The New Yorker