When Anda Poulsen was young, he felt lucky. He had been born in a town with great history. Kangeq, Greenland, was a place people told stories about. It was famous for its strong Inuit hunters and good location on a point at the mouth of a fjord. It was where the first Scandinavian missionaries had settled, the first Greenlandic artists had painted and some of the last traditional Inuit kayak hunters had braved the ocean.
Kangeq was a place that made great men. Anda was proud.
But Kangeq — which had survived a medieval drought and a post-medieval Little Ice Age, Vikings and missionaries — was about to meet a new and devastating foe. Anda was not going to be the hunter his grandfathers had been, and surviving into adulthood would be more difficult than he imagined.
Physics, properly understood, is not a subject taught at schools and university departments; it is a certain way of understanding how processes happen in the world. When Aristotle wrote his Physics in the fourth century B.C., he wasn’t describing an academic discipline, but a mode of philosophy: a way of thinking about nature. You might imagine that’s just an archaic usage, but it’s not. When physicists speak today (as they often do) about the “physics” of the problem, they mean something close to what Aristotle meant: neither a bare mathematical formalism nor a mere narrative, but a way of deriving process from fundamental principles.
The system by which we move our goods and ourselves is badly broken. It does not need fixing. It needs rethinking. Like “Silent Spring” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Door to Door” is a rallying point for culturewide change. The mind-set has already begun to shift. Humes’s tireless curation of figure and fact, his well-reasoned arguments and his uncluttered, well-ordered prose may turn the ship that’s just begun to budge.
“Hystopia” is presented as a novel within a novel, written by a Vietnam veteran named Eugene Allen shortly before he committed suicide. The manuscript — which seems on the face of it to be a speculative thriller of alternative history — is discovered not long after his death and is eventually published with notes and commentary from the author’s friends and relatives as well as his editor. Curiously, these peripheral accounts seem not especially divergent from the world of Allen’s novel, confirming that the alternative history here belongs not to Allen but to Means himself.