What Books Do for the Human Spirit

A theme of Bear Skin is the transformative power of art, narrative, story, poetry and words.

A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another. ~ Rebecca Solnit.

It seems that all throughout history, writers, thinkers, poets and philosophers have marveled at the power and magic of books and stories.

But surpassing all stupendous inventions, what sublimity of mind was his who dreamed of finding means to communicate his deepest thoughts to any other person, though distant by mighty intervals of place and time! Of talking with those who are in India; of speaking to those who are not yet born and will not be born for a thousand or ten thousand years; and with what facility, by the different arrangements of twenty characters upon a page! Let this be the seal of all the admirable inventions of mankind. ~ Galileo Galilei.

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For many poor or location bound readers, books form a doorway, a portal to the greatest minds and events of history. For the wealthy and more mobile, books remain challenges to priorities, values and heart orientation.

Some books seem like a key to unfamiliar rooms in one’s own castle…I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us…A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us ~ Franz Kafka.

For science fiction writers, books form curious transportation through time and space.

Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. ~  Carl Sagan.

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For political activists and educators, books are a tool for the liberation and empowerment of the human spirit.

Reading is a way to change our destiny ~  James Baldwin.

For thinkers of all kinds, books create access to great pleasure, even ecstasy.

Reading, is the work of the alert mind, is demanding, and under ideal conditions produces finally a sort of ecstasy. ~ E.B. White 

 

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Through books, humans find freedom, agency and friendships with great thinkers. What better and more cost effective hobby is there in the world?

Homo Ludens with a book is free. At least as free as he’s capable of being. He himself makes up the rules of the game, which are subject only to his own curiosity….. And no other hobby can promise this — to eavesdrop on Montaigne’s arguments or take a quick dip in the Mesozoic. ~Wisława Szymborska.

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Business as Art

A recent article in Forbes addressed the changing face of work and career, as millennials graduate and become business owners and company managers:

The new social entrepreneur will not only change the world, they will change the whole pattern of the playing field, as we know it.  They will create global engagement and succeed where we have failed.  They will live the meaning in their lives and make it their livelihood.  They will bring the words of David Bornstein to life…”Poverty is not only a lack of money, it’s a lack of sense of meaning.”

The article “Business Not As Usual: The Millennial Social Entrepreneur” addresses the transformed perspective of the current generation, under 30, towards work.

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More connected globally that ever, issues of poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation are foremost in their minds and it is meaning and purpose, not security, privacy, independence and financial gain unlike their parents and grandparents, that motivates them.

Poverty is not only a lack of money, it’s a lack of sense of meaning.

Citing “karma” as the zeitgeist of a generation, the article posits that young people will transform business, politics, economics and global trade in the way Jesus, Mohammad, Socrates, Gandhi and Mandela have transformed our world by their lives.

 karma business

Business and work it seems, are moving from the realm of science or craft, into the world of art form, imbued with meaning, purpose and spiritual significance.

Social entrpreneurship is a particular type of business with a social outcome, a hybrid of the charity with a NFP impact focus, but driven by a business engine. Drawing the best of capitalism and socialism together, social enterprise promises to unite the world politically and economically.

For the uninitated,  well known Australian social enterprises include Thankyou Group, a company selling every day consumer items, of which a percentage of the profits of each item directly contributes to food and water projects globally.

 thank youthank you group

This turn to meaning in work is another example of the general societal move away from a modernist thinking to embrace new narratives.  Modernism reduced narratives of meaning to the “fairy story” necessary for human happiness. Privileging rationalism, largely in reaction to the abuses of religion, modernists decried spiritualism as a mental projection or an “opiate” to dull the rational being.

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Now however, having found modernism empty, post-modernists and millennialist seek meaning again in connectivity and creativity. 

The current generation is turning back to spiritual concepts of karma and transcendent meaning to seek justice, purpose and meaning with their work.

Is your work an art form? and what narrative of meaning motivates you in your sphere of influence?