How To Exercise Without Leaving The House

Reading & Writing

So I was wandering about on Amazon, cruising for a casual pick-up in the world of literature, and stumbled across (then purchased) Christopher Hart’s ‘Lost Children’, a novel which has one of those chapters destined to be forever engraved in your mind – this one involves a terrified, unqualified British doctor and a very angry Central American general with astounding ideas about world power and a fist-sized chunk of flesh missing from his arse.

And there in Mr Hart’s book was a reading list from said general, so I decided to check out the titles on Amazon to see if they were genuine (being a bit of an expert in the art of making up silly book titles and mixing them with real ones). And they were. So I started reading the enlightening ‘Guns, Steel and Germs’, about why some countries develop more quickly than others, and this led me to ‘The Dictator’s Handbook’, about why incredibly awful fascists are sometimes what the world needs to spur the sheeplike populace into action.

It was a slippery slope. The idea that civilisation is the last flash in the pan at the end of evolution suggests a reason why we don’t have alien contact, ie. they’re at the same stage too and the odds of us meeting temporally are infinitesimal, thank god. I wanted to know more.

From there the recommendations went to ‘The World After Us’, about what would happen to the natural and built environment if all humans suddenly disappeared. And now we’re playing paper chase with novels, scientific non-fiction, and somehow I finally wind up at ‘Origin’ by Mr Dan Brown, which has a seed of an intriguing idea buried beneath his trademark remedial prose, which reads like Michael Crichton translated into Trump tweets.

And suddenly it dawned on me that I had accidentally replicated the theoretical rise and fall of civilisation posited by the general to begin with. Oh, and I’d lost a whole day.

This is writers’ displacement therapy at work. I now return reluctantly to my manuscript edit, a little wiser and feeling definitely older.

7 comments on “How To Exercise Without Leaving The House”

  1. Brooke says:

    “Guns…; World After Us.. are old think now (which is why Mr. Brown can pick up the idea). Try Harari, Rovelli, etc.
    Rise and fall of civilization usually means western/european civilization. After Tamerlane (also old but still useful) offers a more complex view of multiple civilizations rising and falling several times, and asks interesting questions.

  2. Bill Cahill says:

    “Life After People” was a History Channel two-season series examining the deterioration of human artifacts and the concurrent evolution of life forms adapting to a world without humans. The Sistine Chapel Ceiling crashing down onto pavement; the Lincoln Memorial under water; cats developing gliding skills amid the wreckage of plant-encrusted high rises (so funny, gliding cats, like flying squirrels!); once enclosed underground lines exposed to the sky, creating canals criss-crossing former urban landscapes; herds of elephants, descendants of zoo escapees, wandering the Great Plains!
    Eventually, in tens of millions of years, the only evidence of humanity: the pyramids and Mount Rushmore. All based on the speculations of scientists and engineers. Flying cats! Look out!

  3. Ben Morris says:

    I know that its only a matter of time before l too will follow a trail of books regarding this subject.
    I have recently been given a book on St Edmund, as I was brought up in that area it is of interest to me. I’ve noticed that the author has written ‘Magic as a Political Crime in Medieval and Early Modern England’ and ‘English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553-1829’. Whilst initially I thought these would only exist on Mr Bryant’s bookshelf I find myself drawn back to these titles. The only thing stopping me is that I do not know where I will end up!

  4. Denise Treadwell says:

    I disagree with Brooke civilizations have disappeared before, no one understands ‘Stonehenge ‘ , ( whereas Ancient Egypt with the rossetta stone was able to be deciphered) there have been so many theories, but as the people didn’t write anything they were passed off as uncivilized and without organization. But where did these people go?

  5. Denise Treadwell says:

    Just a thought, could we have Bryant and May directly related to these people through DNA..

  6. Ken Mann says:

    Sadly (or happily) once you go back more than a few centuries everyone is effectively related to everyone else (inside continents anyway).

  7. Helen Martin says:

    Book trails are inevitable once you find an interest. I started with Looking for the Perfect Red (fabulous) went on to the Social Life of Ink (ordering my own copy), Mauve (rereading this) and planning a day with dyes, mordants and pots of boiling water and other liquids with a friend. Anyone have a source of poke berries? Oak galls are available in various forms, and sulfuric acid on nails is easy. We’ll have fun.

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