book beginnings on Friday: The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson, from Pops

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.


Today’s book beginning comes to us courtesy of my father, who in the spirit of Derrick Jensen’s Endgame and Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael is reading The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O. Wilson, with whom Pops is impressed. He writes to me:

This is Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson explaining the human condition and our impact on the world, using his background in biology (esp. evolution) as well as philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, creative arts, religion, etc. After a unique and compelling preface evoking Gauguin’s “finest work,” this is just the 2nd paragraph of the book.

Writes Wilson:

Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and the rest of life.

Like Jensen’s writing, this both rings true and terrifies at the same time. At least that’s my reaction. What’s yours?

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