Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 2) – The Near East

The second part of this tome (1200+ pages) is focused on the Ancient civilizations of the Near East; Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc..

πŸ“ β€œIt is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.”

πŸ“ Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; β€œspending their geniuses on sauces and deserts” 🍰. What state is our current civilization in? πŸ€”

πŸ“ Egypt: β€œMachinery was rare because muscle was cheap.”

πŸ“ The hanging gardens of Babylon was considered considered one of the Wonders of the World. Legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar II had it build for his wife who was not used to the desert and longed for her lush homeland.

πŸ“ There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

πŸ“ In Judean prophets talked about the need to be moral rebirth. Jeremaya asked for circumcision of spirit as well as the flesh in his strange phrase: β€œCircumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

One theme that stood out to me is how civilizations raise from hard labour and sacrifice, just so that future generation can have it go down the toilet by forgetting these hardships and fall victim to hedonism. πŸ’© 🚽

⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

The accounts of the religious believes in the different civilizations fascinates me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we still can find intact or reshaped in today’s religions.

βš–οΈ VERDICT:

Now we get into the meat of the book and it has taken on another rhythm. I have mixed feelings about this second part of book. It’s is still brilliant but it’s getting hard to retain the information. The problem might lie in the way the book is structured, using the same template to describe each civilization, one after the other, making it overwhelming.

Check out Part 1 for more in this review series.

What are you reading these days? πŸ€”

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: Behave by Robert Sapolsky

What is long and hard, and filled with baboon references? Robert Sapolskys book Behave.


πŸ“ β€œThe frontal cortex makes you do the harder thing, when it’s the right thing to do.” The frontal cortex consumes a lot of energy which makes your willpower limited. Have you noticed how quick you are to judge and how hard it is to be a good person you are when depleted after a hard day at work?

πŸ“ Initially demanding frontal tasks, like controlling your bladder as a child, becomes easier with time. Understand: repeated good behaviors and they will become automatic!

πŸ“ We Habituate..

Understand: Artificial pleasures (designer food, drugs, VR porn etc..) throws our systems of the scale making us unable to appreciate the natural.

πŸ“ Humans delays gratification for an extremely long time. No other animal restricts calories now to look good on the beach next year! πŸ˜†

πŸ“ β€œThe opposite of love is not hate, its indifference”

πŸ“ Win-Win solutions rewards more dopamine than Win – Lose ones. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

πŸ“ Alcohol = more aggressive behavior? No, alcoholic only evokes aggression in people prone to aggression AND people that BELIEVE that alcohol makes you more aggressive. Like testosterone only increase aggression in people prone to it in the first place. Testosterone will enhance any behavior that helps us maintain status.

⭐️ TAKEAWAY: I was applying for days off at work. I was going to ask right before lunch, but caught myself and did it the proper way instead; Judges famously give harsher judgments when they are hungry. I upped my chances of getting an approved application quickly by waiting until after lunch.

This was not a matter of life or death situation, like the case with some trials, but I think this story points towards something worth thinking about.

What is the result of a lifetime of strategic moves based on the quirks of biology and human nature works compared to a life ignorant of these hidden influences?

βš–οΈ VERDICT: A detailed and nuanced summary of where we are at with the study of human behavior! 😍

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4/5

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Photo credit: @chriserzfeld

Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola EstΓ©s

Women Who Run With The Wolves explores folk tales and myths through a jungian lens with the intent to help women reconnect to the instinctual self, the Wild Woman archetype.


πŸ“ Classic tale beginning:

β€œβ€œOnce there was, and ones there was not…” This paradoxical phrase is meant to alert the soul of the listener that this story takes place in the world between worlds where nothing is as it first seems.”

πŸ“ The animus can pollute your flow of creativity with self doubt. One with a polluted river will not be able to take compliments; β€œBeautiful? This old thing? Well, it nothing really, look at all the mistakes I made”.

A well-developed animus has excellent borders. An artist that puts up a sign outside her house: β€œI am working today and am not receiving visitors. I know you think this doesn’t mean you because you are my banker, agent, or best friend. But it does.” πŸ’ͺ🏻

πŸ“ Original stories where often morphed to fit religious beliefs. Pagan symbols became Christian symbols. Sexual parts where removed and animals became demons. 🦁 β€”> πŸ‘Ή

πŸ“ There is no more reliable sign that a person has spent time with Ugly Duckling status at some point or all her life than her inability to digest a sincere compliment. We have all know people like this… πŸ¦† 🦒

πŸ“β€œSometime educated guesses can be made about the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what matters adults irrationally lose their tempers over”.

πŸ“ β€œIf you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin” 🌲


It’s beautifully written, very mystical in its tone, and I can sense the impact this book must have had on women throughout the years. As a male reader I can’t fully relate to all aspects of it – and it’s ok, it’s not written for me -but there is a lot of value in this book nevertheless.

For me the biggest takeaways are the stories themselves and their interpretation. I also found the chapter of creativity truly profound.

β€”

3/5


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 1)

Photo credit: @eruchdah

Why should you know history? It tells you how we got where we are today. Why we believe what we believe, why we do what we do. By learning about the past you can also avoid repeating it’s mistakes β€”- and it’s f***ing fascinating!

This book is ambitious in scope, the series (11 volumes) even more so; trying to summarize the history of civilization itself. This first book alone is 1184 pages. One of many reason to make break this book down to several micro reviews!

My focus for this year will be Ancient Greece, but first I want to read up on the history leading up to it.

The first part of the book talks about the economical, political, mental and moral elements needed for the establishment of civilization.


πŸ“ β€œI do not have to think. I have plenty of meat”. Not planning for more than today in primitive life had its advantages. When planning for the future you pave the way for property and greed.

πŸ“ Communism appears most commonly in the beginning of civilization. In times of dearth. Fear of starvation fuses the individual into the group. The dream Communism lurks in every modern society as a memory of a simpler and more equal life. β€œWe remember its equality but forget the poverty!”

πŸ“ About taxes: β€œIt was better to pay bribe to one magnificent robber than to bribe them all.”

πŸ“ Women not bearing children are shamed by men in societies that rely on high birth rates to compensate for high death rates.

πŸ“ In primitive society delay between desire and fulfillment is not very long and therefore there is not need to idealize passion.

πŸ“ β€œWhere food is dear, life is cheap.”

πŸ“ In simple days, men married for cheap labour and regular meals.

πŸ“ Is it good to be a virgin or not upon marriage? What is shameful is totally dictated by culture.

πŸ“ β€œCivilization is not imperishable. It must be required anew by each generation.”

πŸ“ β€œMagic becomes science.” Magicians needed to give the supernatural a push by using natural means. Stuff that works for real.. πŸ‘©β€πŸ”¬

Photo credit: @cinefile_25


I’m excited to be a student of history again. The world I see everyday makes more and more sense after each chapter I read. πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ“

5/5

Thoughts on: β€œTen Arguments for Deleting Your Social Accounts Right Now” by Jaron Lanier

Social media companies needs us to keep returning to them and to make this happen they collect data about us. That data is used to give us more of what engages us the most and in that way creating wealth for the platforms.

The problem is that what engages us most are content that evokes fear, anxiety and outrage. And that’s what we get!


πŸ“ BUMMER Platforms: Service like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are β€œdriven by a business model in which the incentive is to find customers ready to pay to modify someone else’s behavior.”.

πŸ“ A key point to remind yourself about: For services like a Facebook, we are the product, not the customer.

πŸ“ We talk to our BUMMER connected products like they where humans, but it works even better if we do it in a way that makes you behave more like machines. (I.e. me interacting with my Google Assistant πŸ˜‚)

πŸ“ Podcasts are still not BUMMER. They are made by real people that are known to the listener. They are build on a sense of personality and context. It’s also harder for the listener to jump from one audio snippet to the next.


βš–οΈ VERDICT:

This short book only scratched the surfaces of the problematical issues social media brings to the table but does so in a good way!


If you want to get more depth with social media, clickbaiting and algorithms then read these books:

πŸ“– Trust me I’m lying – Ryan Holiday.

Media manipulation and Fake news.

πŸ“– 21 Lessons for the 21st century- Y. Harari

How to live in a society of algorithms.

πŸ“– The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains – Nicholas Carr

How the internet is changing the way our brains works.

πŸ“– So you’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

Social media and the renaissance of public shaming.


What book would you add to the list above? πŸ€”


3/5


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: β€œTo Kill a Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee

I knew nothing about this book going in, except that it is a classic and probably written by an American.

I could have read up on why it is considered a classic and why it has stood the test of time before I started to read it and write about it here. But I didn’t. I enjoy to be thrown into an experience not knowing what to expect – to approach books with a Beginners Mind, so to speak. After posting this I will read up on the history of the book, it’s impact and it’s cult status.


πŸ“ β€œWhen I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I was not supposed to do anything that requires me to wear pants.” said Jean-Louise. Girls where expected play with tea sets and be a sunshine to others.

πŸ“ The chapter about when the kids where tasked to read for the malignant dying morphine addict, Mrs. Dubose, really struck a cord with me.

πŸ“ To kill a mocking bird is to destroy innocence.

My guess is that what makes this book special is the way it challenges gender stereotypes and how it shines a light on prejudices regarding race and class. But maybe even more striking is the beautiful way in which it is written and how it takes you to another time and place.

It’s a great book, but I wouldn’t consider it mandatory reading for my purposes, which is to get a deep understanding of the human condition and what constitutes reality.

3/5

Have you read it? What classics are you intending to read this year? πŸ€”


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: β€œLost Connections” by Johann Hari

For a long time depression and anxiety has been believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and the solution is a lifetime pill popping. Hari challenges this idea, both the cause and the solution.

____

His research shows 9 very different causes for depression – Disconnection from…

1. Meaningful work

2. Meaningful values

3. Other people

4. Status and respect

5. Childhood trauma

6. The natural world

7. A hopeful and secure future

8. & 9. The real role of genes and brain changes.

β€”β€”

πŸ“ β€œYou are not a machine with broken parts you are an animal whose need have not been met.”

β€”β€”

πŸ“ When asked how many friends people have, β€œzero” is the most common answer.

β€”β€”

πŸ“ Anxious and depressed people are prone to gaming addiction. Games have groups and teams, clear goals, and provides a sense of control.

β€”β€”

πŸ“ Anti depressant Companies (who often finance studies) only publish what makes their product look good. Just like when we take selfies, we discard the double chins and post the one where we look ace! 🀳

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πŸ“ The more people value things, the more likely they are to be depressed.

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πŸ“ Obesity and loneliness are equally deadly.

β€”β€”

πŸ“ Studies show that depression is in fact to a significant degree a problem not with your brain but with your life.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: I have not been depressed myself (I don’t think?) but like most people I have had periods that has been darker and more anxious than others. Reconnecting to the 9 areas pointed out by Hari definitely improved things for me. Whether it was starting to run in nature (6.), Meditation (5.), read books (2.) or work on this Insta account (1. & 3.). Unfortunately β€œReconnection” is not as commercially lucrative and easy to package into a product as antidepressants.

β€”β€”

We all have people around us, friends or family members, that suffer from depression. Reading this book helped me gain a deeper understanding why modern society is a breeding ground for mental disorders.

β€”β€”

This books is a serious contender for Book of the Year for me – and it’s only beginning of February. ❀️

β€”-

What actions and habits in your life protect you from depression and anxiety? πŸ€”

β€”β€”

5/5

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Photo credit: @thelavinagency


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists! Also, if you want more notes from this book then checkout the Extended Notes, right here!

Thoughts on: β€œMutants” by Armand Marie Leroi

Spontaneous sex change, cyclops and mermaid syndrome and conjoined twins. The tall and the very short. Albinism and rapid aging. No stone is left unturned when Armand Marie Leroi’s takes us on a journey though the biology of the bizarre – and beautiful.

This book β€œ..is not only about the human body as we might wish it to be, but as it is – replete with variety and error”.


πŸ“ Mutation arise from errors made by the machinery that copies or repair DNA.

πŸ“ β€œWe are all mutants, but some of us are more mutant than others.”

πŸ“ Clitoris = Penis

πŸ“: β€˜I do not want to be embarrassed by your black body at Daddy’s grave’ said her mother. Rita Hoefling was a white girl in the apartheid society of South Africa who suddenly turning black. At first she got subtle racist remarks and by the end of her transformation she was denied attending her own fathers funeral.. racism is dumb.

πŸ“ Preformationists= They believed the egg contained the entire embryo (complete with limbs) and that embryo had itself it owns sperm or egg which in turn contained embryos ad infinitum.

πŸ“ In conjoined twins the skew toward femininity is overwhelming: about 77 percent are girls. No one know why this is.

πŸ“ Boys who are castrated before puberty grow up to be unusually tall.

πŸ“ β€œWomen of all cultures seem to prefer men who are on average five centimeters (about two inches) taller than themselves.”


The human body is amazing. This book feels like it celebration of the most haunting, weird and wonderful shapes the human body can take. It leaves me in awe.

4/5

What are you reading these days? πŸ€”πŸ“š

Check out more great books in the Reading Lists!

Thoughts on: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Goggins, Goggins, Goggins! This guy is proper crazy!

He managed to escape an abusive family situation and decided become a navy S.E.A.L. The problem was that he was overweight, uneducated and unprepared. This was the starting point for the man that grew to become one of (if not THE), toughest endurance athletes I’ve come across.


πŸ“ About his abusive childhood home: β€œGlossy surfaces reflect much more than they reveal”. Great expression!

πŸ“ β€œMotivation is bullshit.”

πŸ“ β€œI brainwashed myself to craving discomfort”. Schedule suffering into your life.

πŸ“ It’s funny, humans tend to hatch their most challenging goals and dreams, the ones that demands the most effort and promises absolutely nothing, when we are tucked into our comfort zones.

πŸ“ Ran 100 miles without training, on broken legs, pissing blood.

πŸ“ Had the world record for most pull ups in 24 hours in 2013 (4030).

πŸ“ When you think you done your upmost you’re probably only at 40%.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

The most common excuse Goggins hears for not working out is that people don’t have time. We get it, we all got stuff to do. β€œYou must win the morning” and master the dark hours, when your spouse and kids are asleep, he says.

So, how do I act on this? I’m waking up 05:30 for the coming 66 days. The extra time in the mornings will be used for exercise, meditation, reading and writing.

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βš–οΈ VERDICT:

This book made me add another 10km on my regular run last Sunday. There where two reasons: First, the book is really solid and I didn’t want to turn off the audiobook. Second, Goggins made me realize I’m not putting in even half the effort I could.

This book will challenge you to set the bar higher for yourself, If you can look past the Navy jargon..

What your morning routine? πŸ€”


4/5

πŸ“· credit: @portlandpickers


Check out my reading lists for more great books!