The above is the title of the 2009 CBC Massey Lectures, given last month by Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, and now in book form too, as The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Dr. Davis is currently a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. The lectures begin their airing on CBC Radio tonight, on the program “Ideas” with episode/lecture one, “Season of the Brown Hyena”.
From the first lecture:
One of the intense pleasures of travel is the opportunity to live amongst peoples who have not forgotten the old ways, who still feel their past in the wind, touch it in stones polished by rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants. Just to know that, in the Amazon, the Jaguar shaman still journey beyond the Milky Way, that the myths of the Inuit elders still resonate with meaning, that the Buddhists in Tibet still pursue the breath of the Dharma is to remember the central revelation of anthropology: the idea that the social world in which we live does not exist in some absolute sense, but rather is simply one model of reality, the consequence of one set of intellectual and spiritual choices that our particular cultural lineage made, however successfully, many generations ago.
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Episode/Lecture Two, “The Wayfarers”, airing November 4, 2009
Episode/Lecture Three, “Peoples of the Anaconda”, airing November 5, 2009
Episode/Lecture Four, “Sacred Geography”, airing November 6, 2009
Episode/Lecture Five, “Century of the Wind”, airing November 7, 2009
According to the “Ideas” website, audio files will be posted the day after each broadcast.
A few of the many other books by Wade Davis:
The Clouded Leopard: A Book of Travels (having just seen a clouded leopard for the very first time, at the National Zoo in Washington, I’m looking forward to reading this)
Book of Peoples of the World: A Guide to Cultures, edited by Wade Davis and K. David Harrison (National Geographic, 2008)