Notes from the Now

Posts Tagged ‘lectures’

“The Other” By Ryszard Kapuscinski

In Africa, Education, sociology on November 2, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I’m usually a bit wary of the “lecture repackaged as book” genre.  For the most part, we readers are simply missing too much information, as these lectures were never intended to stand on their own (although I suppose that in the modern day this is changing).  Generally, they are grounded in a time and place, with a context that we are blind to, an audience which is silent to us,  and on top of all that tend to take the author out of their comfort zone to begin with.

Ryszard Kapuscinski’s “The Other” fits this general outline fairly well.  It’s superficially geared for a Polish audience and clearly is a homecoming of sorts for Kapuscinski [bio], who regularly references Polish philosophers who have limited global renown (at least to those outside of the discipline).  Even the topic of “The Other” (or “the Europeans” developing understanding of “the Other”) seems to lose some of its impact as merely a summation of the insights Kapuscinski gleaned from his travels & adventures.

In spite of all this, what Kapuscinski brings to the table, and what makes “The Other” a worthwhile read (in spite of the aforementioned flaws in the sub-genre), is perspective.  A quarter way through “The Other”, I felt like it was all either too general or too specifically geared for his audience.  By the halfway point, I found myself wishing that we all had such perspective on the world and the complexity of human interactions.  As I continued to read “The Other”, with the absurdities of American politics in the background, I couldn’t help but think how there still is little understanding of “the “Other”  — abroad or at home, in spite of the networked, interlinked, globalized world of today.

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