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#157261 - 12/05/08 05:55 PM Laurence Gonzales
Nishnabotna Offline
Icon of Sin

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 512
Loc: Nebraska
His book Deep Survival is mentioned on here quite a few times, but I didn't see any references to his blog , or this cool Nat Geo article.
(Apologies if this is repeat of common info - plz delete if so.)

#157276 - 12/05/08 07:12 PM Re: Laurence Gonzales [Re: ]
GrilledBison Offline

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 22
Loc: PA
I found “Deep Survival” to be eye opening about our psychological predispositions when it comes to who survives and who dies. It was an enjoyable book, which I will re-read.

I recently read his new book “Everyday Survival.” It starts out with a handful of anecdotal tragedies that illustrate how easy it is to mindlessly allow our daily routines lead us to (and sometimes over) the precipice of disaster by assuming that some choice or action will result in a safe outcome because it hasn’t been a problem before. In reality, we were just lucky most of the time. We make many choices based on false assumptions that we infer just from our apparent “ability” to “get away with it” in the past, such as pulling out of a parking lot while talking on a cell phone without hitting anyone.

However, Gonzales’s new book wanders into a rather cerebral journey, wherein he imagines pages and pages of what he intuits was the instinctual and psychological predispositions of “Lucy” the earliest found somewhat complete pre-human fossil during her last moments of life. (Didn't have the book nearby to fact-check my recollection, so apologies for any errors.) Gonzales proceeds to wander through the rest of the book, pulling discrete facts from many walks of life and trying to synthesize a theory for our ability to be smart and act dumb.

My understanding of the conclusion of this wandering book is essentially that the second law of thermodynamics applies at every level of our universe, from the cosmic to the microscopic; proposes that we have no control over the inevitable decay of life, of transferring energy from a concentrated state to a dissipated state; and that we are participants in a greater system of which we are unconscious. It reminds me of the closing scene in Men In Black, where the Milky Way galaxy is a mere marble in a game, yet we toil away, ironing our shirts and mowing the lawn.

While I found pages that were true gems in this book, it was ultimately not a style of book that I found terrifically readable. While I was reading this book, I did enjoy considering whether lack of mindfulness (laziness in the brain) was within or beyond our control.

Thanks for the link to the blog, Nishnabotna.

Edited by GrilledBison (12/05/08 07:27 PM)

#157282 - 12/05/08 08:19 PM Re: Laurence Gonzales [Re: GrilledBison]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
As with most things about life, we tend towards the conservation of energy. Ergo, we probably do not cognitate at all times to the greatest level possible, simply because the nature of our existence precludes 100% functionality all the time. We live in cycles. All of our existence is cyclical and can easily be described this way, from the minutae of every moment we wax and wane in our attentiveness and ability to maintain a line of thought, to the grandiose, wherein we are able to percieve even the cycles of the cosmos.

Control is not an issue, for the perception of control is merely an illusion of being. We are what we are, and intermittently we strive to exceed our limits, just as the puppy strives to leave his cage. It is the heaping of these drives, one upon another, that propels our development forward, to become more tomorrow than we would aspire for today. But all the time, for all our efforts, we accomplish little more than a cork bobbing in a vast sea. We can only perceive what we experience, and because of this limitation, we think we have control, but given the grand scale of things, such a notion is so closed-minded it is absurd. As a whole, at least we know now that all that we know is still much less than all that we have yet to know. In this vast unknown, then, we may someday, as a race, hope to find the meaning of what we really are. That is, if we are fortunate enough to survive that long. Maybe that question will be left for the descendents of cockroaches to answer.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#157285 - 12/05/08 08:26 PM Re: Laurence Gonzales [Re: benjammin]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK

"It's better to be lucky than good", mainly because lucky takes a heckuva lot less effort.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)


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