The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction The Watchman's Rattle discussion


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The Watchman's Rattle

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message 1: by Rebecca (new) - added it

Rebecca Costa Professional wrestling can be exciting, even intriguing at times (especially after a few beers); such notwithstanding, I actually prefer the fine art of ikebana. Analogue: submission versus freedom; mindlessness versus mindfulness; lobotomizing versus honing. One teases; the other teases out.

The aforementioned set of comparisons applies, respectively, to literary works that shock or stroke to those that challenge and provoke. Rebecca Costa’s The Watchman’s Rattle definitely pertains to the latter category. Amidst the cacophony of dogmatic, melodramatic voices currently pervading the media, a whisper of reason does beckon the profoundest and noblest in our species, and does so for the purpose of our very continuance.

Now the play in three acts: the issue, the obstacle, and the (re)solution. The issue is, in Costa’s own words— “the gap between the uneven rate at which the human brain can evolve and the rapid pace at which we generate and discover complexity.” The obstacle consists of “supermemes”—“pervasive and embedded beliefs, thoughts, or behaviors that contaminate or suppress all other beliefs, thoughts, or behaviors”—and includes the following five (“supermemes”): “irrational opposition”; “personalization of blame”; “counterfeit correlation”; “silo thinking”; and, “extreme economics.” (For the details, please read the book; it’s well worth it!) The solution—it’s in the brain, stupid—is called insight, which fortunately can be cultivated and which needs to be developed on both an individual and collective basis to insure not only our survival but moreover our overall well-being and prosperity.

The only caveat I posit comes in the form of the following perennial philosophical question—Does insight pertain to becoming or being, or some strange combination thereof? In other words, is insight a recent discovery that must be deliberately cultivated (as Costa seems to suggest)? Or is insight a latent, fixed phenomenon inhering our species that is elicited or “discovered” at crucial stages of human evolution?

Whatever the matter, The Watchman’s Rattle constitutes a crucial reminder of our role and responsibility to shun complacency and to embrace its challenging invocation to think—not to follow, but to wander/wonder. It’s certainly not an easy task, but one with which we can, should, and must live.

The challenge is that in this harried, frenetic—not to mention complicated and complex—environment in which we dwell and move (and spoil our being)—one prefers to chill out with professional wrestling (and perhaps drink a few beers). Nevertheless, we should indeed strive to change the channel, and sooner than later. Costa certainly provides us the impetus with which to extract ourselves from the La-Z-Boy and do so.


message 2: by Peg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Peg Loved that book. Talk about forcing one to think!!


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