Monday, April 18, 2011

If you didn't work out this morning.

The other day I happened upon a book in Crawford-Doyle, one of New York's great bookstores, that they imported specially from the UK. It's a five-pound tome in sheathed in a Tiffany's blue dustcover called "A History of the World in 100 Objects." It's based on "the celebrated BBC Radio 4 Series," and written by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.

MacGregor covers mummies, chopping tools, spear points, pestles, pots and, of course, art. Conveniently for our short-attention-span era, each object is discussed in just about five or 10 pages. They're discussed in short essays, about the length of a subway ride.

MacGregor is a universalist. He sees connections between, say, the people living in the Indus delta 5,000 years ago and people living in Manhattan today. When mankind began living in cities, those cities had about 30,000-40,000 people. MacGregor estimates that those people were each connected to about 250 to 300 people. That's about the extent of human connectivity, and the average number of viable Facebook connections people have in our modern world.

No real point this morning. Except if you want to broaden your intellectual muscles and work-out your upper body in the process, this is a book you should pick up.

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