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Caspar Henderson: A New Map of Wonders
Caspar Henderson returns to Point Reyes to discuss his new work, A New Map of Wonders: A Journey in Search of Modern Marvels.
We live in a world that is known, every corner thoroughly explored. But has this knowledge cost us the ability to wonder?
Wonder, Caspar Henderson argues, is at its most supremely valuable in just such a world because it reaffirms our humanity and gives us hope for the future. That’s the power of wonder, and that’s what we should aim to cultivate in our lives. But what are the wonders of the modern world?
Henderson’s brilliant exploration borrows from the form of one of the oldest and most widely known sources of wonder: maps. Large, detailed mappae mundi invited people in medieval Europe to vividly imagine places and possibilities they had never seen before: manticores with the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the stinging tail of a scorpion; tribes of one-eyed men who fought griffins for diamonds; and fearsome Scythian warriors who drank the blood of their enemies from their skulls.
Henderson argues that our views of the world today are sometimes no less incomplete or misleading. Scientists are only beginning to map the human brain, for example, revealing it as vastly more complex than any computer we can conceive. A New Map of Wonders explores these and other realms of the wonderful, in different times and cultures and in the present day, all the while keeping sight questions such as the cognitive basis of wonder and the relationship between wonder and science.
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Mar 23, 2021