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
The story about Robinson Crusoe is world famous, but what if someone were to tell it a little bit differently? Foe gives a whole different spin to the classic tale, and shows different sides of humanity while doing it.
When reading about Foe, most I could find was about the use of language and the meaning of language in the story. However, quite quickly I noticed that the elaborate language did not seem to fit Susan Barton. Then again, you hardly get to know the woman, or any of the characters at all. They talk a lot, you will be able to draw a map based on all the descriptions given, but when asked a question about Susan, or Crusoe, or even Friday there will not be one straight answer to be given. Coetzee really tried to rewrite Defoe’s tale, and with that attacked the language instead of the story.
There is one other aspect Coetzee might have touched upon, that Defoe might have forgotten a little. While Defoe is made the antagonist of Coetzee’s Foe, there seems to be a twist in the story in which all sides and people are turned upside down. Halfway through Foe one is being led on, and strayed from the original story. Crusoe suddenly plays but a minor role, while Susan (and mostly Susan’s demons) are becoming the focus point. Because if one is always surrounded by a total silence, and one lacks normal daily interaction, how is one to stay sane?