War always destroys more than one can imagine from a distance. All buildings, stuff, personal belongings can be replaced, but a human soul cannot. The cellist of Sarajevo shows the struggle to keep a hold on your own humanity.
Let me start with this right away: The cellist of Sarajevo is not the most gripping tale about war and destruction. It isn’t a tearjerker, it isn’t heroic, and it isn’t victorious. It is just a tale like that of every other person. And because of that it is relatable, and in this modern day and age with the ongoing wars and conflicts the struggle to survive of the average person has become something that causes discussions and more conflict. As people hear the stories of refugees and survivors, often scarred by what they’ve seen and experienced, it raises the question: And what about when the war is over? That is what The cellist of Sarajevo is really about, about who you will be after the violence and threaths end.
Time, we never have enough of it. Or so it seems. The concept with the clock, the clock that you build your day around. But what is ‘time’, and mostly: is it the same for all of us?
I read this really interesting book not too long ago, the title would translate to: Who (doesn’t) travel is crazy, where the author discussed the notion of time. About how Western societies see time as a solid thing, something you’re bound to live by, where other cultures see time as a fluid factor in the world. I had some first hand experience with this while I lived in South Africa. I quickly learned that if a South African said he/she was going to do something now, that did not necessarily mean that it was getting done now.
What makes a fanatic, a fanatic? And why do mass movements have so much power? Important questions, and The true believer explains all while also giving an insight into the human mind.
The appeal and mindset of mass movements has not changed in the last 500 years.
That might sound strange as the world has changed drastically in the last centuries, but after you finish The true believer you’ll realise that human psychology has changed very little. This book puts the start of Christianity, the French Revolution, and Soviet Russia in one line and it is completely and utterly correct. The base of these three movements, and so many others, is completely similar!
Hoffer wrote The true believer during the peak of Stalin’s regime, in the ’50’s. And yet his work can be adapted to modern times quite easily. For those who do not understand why extreme-right seems to be on the rise in Europe or why people would ever join IS, this work is compulsory. The true believer dives deep into the human minds, and defines those who are most likely to join a mass movement. Therefore, it gives great insight to the people around us, and the way they think. By doing so, it can teach us how to prevent movements that threaten modern society, but also teach us how to inflict change in a world that has become stagnant on many subjects.
The true believer is a tough read, only 160 pages thick and it might take you a while to take everything in. It is confronting on who we are as humans, and comforting when you realize that everything can be explained and the tension can be defused. A must read for every student who’s trying to make sense of the world around him/her.
The true believer
A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises examining mass movements–from Christianity in its infancy to the national uprisings of modern times. His analysis of the psychology of mass movements is a brilliant and frightening study of the mind of the fanatic.
Eric Hoffer. The true believer / HarperCollins / 9780060505912