70,000 Years of Human History in 400 Pages

Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and the rise of Deep History. By Michael Saler

The similar global success of Sapiens raises the question: Why are works covering such vast timescales popular today, when in other respects we remain fixated on the hyperpresent, as manifested in tweets, instant news updates, and high-tech innovations that come so swiftly they have made “planned obsolescence” itself obsolete? One answer is that the Internet’s surfeit of information prompts a craving for the orientation provided by large narratives, those user-friendly global and historical positioning systems of the mind. These fell out of fashion in the heyday of postmodernism, when claims to objectivity and universality were regularly attacked for being subjective and self-interested. Contemporary “metanarratives,” however, tend to be more conscious of their status as provisional guides rather than God’s-eye views. And the new availability of Big Data and visualization tools for tracking patterns over time and space, such as Google’s Ngram Viewer and Stanford’s “Mapping the Republic of Letters” project, gratify this hunger for temporal and spatial bearings in handy ways.


Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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