Berman lets it loose to humble authority and hierarchy. (illustrations, not seen)

READ REVIEW

WANDERING GOD

A STUDY IN NOMADIC SPIRITUALITY

Promising, vivid speculations on the evolution of mental states and varieties of consciousness from Berman (Coming to Our

Senses, not reviewed). In this third volume of his trilogy on the paths of consciousness, Berman traces the societal movement from horizontal, egalitarian relations to vertical, hierarchical ones. Lost in the transition, according to Berman, was the magic of everyday life, the hunter-gatherer's alertness that captures the eternal in a moment of permanent ephemerality. The integration of the universal into the particular through the acceptance of (and the revelation of living in) the world as it is also tamps the pain of alienation following in the wake of recognizing a separate self. Berman draws upon research to refute the interpretation of the Paleolithic period as myth-drenched; instead, he tenders the possibility it was marked by paradox—an utter watchfulness within the numinous landscape—in which children "cathected the whole environment" to mend the split between self and world. Whereas human beings are hard-wired to be on the move—"movement is the physiological substrate of the paradoxical experience"—sedentism and agriculture have been "forced upon us by a combination of external circumstances and a latent drive for power and inequality." Openness to experience faded, certainties and absolutes replaced our need for uncertainty and surprise, paradigms follow paradigms as ultimate (and ineffectual) fixes. Unfortunately, we can't just superimpose nomadic spirituality over our verticalities. As Wittgenstein recognized, and Berman concurs, "there finally is no way of jettisoning the transcendent without drifting into incoherence." But paradox can be a gadfly, challenging our notions of destiny, heroism, and certainty, exposing ourselves to the congruence of hunter-gatherer life, and, Berman suggests, "if our culture does have a future, it may well depend on the development of the dialectical possibilities that exist between horizontal and vertical aspects of life." Gilgamesh understood the paradox; it glimmers in works from Alice Miller to Ortega y Gassett to Bernadette Roberts; and

Berman lets it loose to humble authority and hierarchy. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7914-4441-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more