By Fareed Zakaria
“My parents’ generation got grimly used to living in the shadow of the bomb. But for my generation, the very idea of nuclear warfare seems like something from science-fiction or even dark comedy, such as Dr Strangelove,” writes Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times. “But the world’s nuclear arsenals were not abolished after the cold war. Sadly, we may now be returning to an era in which the threat of nuclear warfare can no longer be treated as the stuff of science fiction.”
“The odds against a Chinese dialect ever gaining traction as an international language are formidable, for linguistic, economic, cultural, and political reasons,” writes Andres Martinez for TIME. “For starters, the language is just too hard for outsiders to attain fluency. Then there is the inconvenient fact that Mandarin doesn’t hold sway throughout all of China.”
“Indeed, resistance to any claim the Chinese language may have for global status may be strongest in the country’s own neighborhood, where nations are nervous about China’s intentions.”
“An age of constant invention naturally begets one of constant failure. The life span of an innovation, in fact, has never been shorter,” writes Adam Davidson for the New York Times. “An African hand ax from 285,000 years ago, for instance, was essentially identical to those made some 250,000 years later. The Sumerians believed that the hoe was invented by a godlike figure named Enlil a few thousand years before Jesus, but a similar tool was being used a thousand years after his death. During the Middle Ages, amid major advances in agriculture, warfare and building technology, the failure loop closed to less than a century. During the Enlightenment and early Industrial Revolution, it was reduced to about a lifetime. By the 20th century, it could be measured in decades. Today, it is best measured in years and, for some products, even less. (Schuetz receives tons of smartphones that are only a season or two old.)”
“The closure of the failure loop has sent uncomfortable ripples through the economy.”
“Traditionally, psychiatrists have cited family dynamics to explain the vicarious traumatization of the second generation. Children may absorb parents’ psychic burdens as much by osmosis as from stories,” writes Judith Shulevitz in the New Republic. “They infer unspeakable abuse and losses from parental anxiety or harshness of tone or clinginess – parents whose own families have been destroyed may be unwilling to let their children grow up and leave them. Parents may tell children that their problems amount to nothing compared with what they went through, which has a certain truth to it, but is crushing nonetheless. ‘Transgenerational transmission is when an older person unconsciously externalizes his traumatized self onto a developing child’s personality,’ in the words of psychiatrist and psychohistorian Vamik Volkan. ‘A child then becomes a reservoir for the unwanted, troublesome parts of an older generation.’ This, for decades, was the classic psychoanalytic formulation of the child-of-survivors syndrome.”
But researchers are increasingly painting a picture of a psychopathology so fundamental, so, well, biological, that efforts to talk it away can seem like trying to shoot guns into a continent, in Joseph Conrad’s unforgettable image from Heart of Darkness.