I read a lot of books. But I don’t write anything. I filter all that knowledge through my feeble perception and imagination and for what? Well now that I am aware of this I am going to strive to change that. I am going to write more. Starting with the book that I am reading right now. I am going to write down my paltry musings.
‘Grand Pursuit’ by Sylvia Nasar, The story of economic genius; is what I am currently reading. Well sort of. There are at least a dozen books that I have on the go. But I started this book yesterday and have made it through chapter 1. I think I will actually finish this one! It has piqued my interest!
I don’t intend to write a formal essay or a profound critique or anything of the sort. Merely what will follow will be a humble commentary; the content of which, I shall strive to make the summit of all my mindfulness.
The subject of economics interests me and so far my survey of the book has sustained my affection. Naser is well informed and is clearly well read. She starts off by quoting Jane Eyre and Charles Dickens borrowing their impressions of Victorian society to set the tone.
I am taken aback by how bad life was for people in almost all of human history but specifically in London, circa 1850. Naser explains the Victorian view of “God’s condemnation of the mass of humanity to poverty and “painful toil”. She posits that to an “unsophisticated observer” “the means to relieve [the misery and suffering is] at hand … visible in the form of elegant mansions, elaborate gowns, handsome carriages and lavish entertainments”; but that that “letting the poor eat cake for a day or two would hardly solve the problem of producing enough bread”.
I am grateful that I live in a period of human history and in a location when misery and suffering are at all time lows. For all the problems that exist today in the world; never before have we had it so good. I know someone is going retort that all the suffering in Africa negates my claim. Perhaps. But here in Red Deer life is awesome!
"For a dozen centuries, as empires rose and fell and wealth of nations waxed and waned, the earths thin and scattered population had grown by tiny increments. What remained essentially unchanged were man’s material circumstances, circumstances that guaranteed that life would remain miserable for the vast majority. Within two or three generations, the industrial revolution demonstrated that the wealth of a nation could grow by multiples rather than percentages. It challenged the most basic premise of human existence: man’s subservience to nature and its harsh dictates."
The question arises; why? Why have things been getting better for us? Its simple. Technology has changed everything for us. It has enabled civilization to rise from a dark and dismal state. Albeit who am I to argue with Marx and Engles who I am sure would disagree with me. The philosophers of the mid 1800s had other ideas.
I look forward to reading this book. I recommend it to people who are casually interested in history and philosophy. Read this book if you want to gain an appreciation for how modern economics has arisen.
Also, there are lots of new words to look up and learn. I will start keeping a list of such words. Apparently I have learned none of them so far. Although I know there were a few that I didn’t know; I didn’t note them and can’t find them. By the way; I seriously regret not noting the words in the last book I read; ‘Jerusalem’ by Simon Sebag, also a very good book that I highly recommend. I will not repeat that mistake. I will refuse to read unless I have a pen near so I can underline and write comments in the margins.