Thursday, June 28, 2012

Light at the Edge of The World

Wade Davis, anthropologist and explorer, for more than 30 years has traveled around the globe, studying the plants considered sacred in some cultures. This was also a great opportunity to learn more about traditional cultures, their way of life, system of beliefs and customs. He wrote many books about his experiences, one of them being “Light at the Edge of the World”. It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read recently.

He describes the life of people in so distant places as the Canadian Arctic, rain forests of Borneo, midlands of Tibet, North African deserts. His stories lead to one main conclusion. The indigenous people, regarded by Europeans as primitive and in a desperate need of enlightenment, were in fact very developed and highly organized communities. The main problem for the invaders was a different system of beliefs and unique vision of life. They had but a choice: adjust to the values of the “civilized” Europeans, Chinese and others. The result was always the same: their way of life had to change, experiences learned through many years were called superstitions and had to diminish, customs had to vanish.
Davis argues that the coming of the white men nearly always lead to destruction of the ancient world with a loss to all human kind. Much space is devoted to languages which are unique, and which are doomed to disappear, or have already disappeared - for ever.

The stories are very well written. People and places are so vividly described that we seem to transfer to where the action take place. I highly recommend this book not only to those who are interested in anthropology, but also to those who love freedom of mind, as well as to all the language lovers.


Title: Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures
Author: Wade Davis
Published: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., Vancouver, 2007
Pages: 224
Language: English

Official website of Wade Davis: http://www.daviswade.com/
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