A Conversation with Natalie Haynes: Author of “The Ancient Guide to a Modern Life”. December 1, 2011
When I saw “The Ancient Guide to a Modern Life” sitting on the library’s NEW BOOKS shelf I grabbed it and, without a glance inside the covers, tucked it under my arm and made my way over to the New DVD selections. It was days before I got around to taking a look at what was inside “The Ancient Guide…” and I have to admit I was surprised by what I found there. For some reason I had the preconceived notion that a book with that title was going to be a new rendering of the ancient myths with an eye toward the idea that the truths that resonated thousands of years ago would still resonate today. So, as I mentioned already, I was surprised to find this was indeed a book about myths but not the myths of Olympus…but the myths we’ve been telling ourselves about the ancient Greeks and Romans and the time and society they lived in.
What Natalie points out so well in this book is that we must not for get the past, indeed we must learn from what has gone before, but do not believe for one moment that “…those were the days.”
Remember…when people lived in better, more innocent times? Only we never do remember, because we weren’t there. The better time is like the end of the rainbow, always a little out of our reach, no matter where we are. When we are presented with an apparently perfect world in film or on TV, we know there’s an ugly underbelly…. We realize that perfection means artifice when we’re in the fictional world, yet when it’s the real, historical world, we often forget to be quite so critical….
If we learn nothing else from the ancient world, we should at least try to break this Roman habit of living in a state of low-level hysteria because we believe that our contemporary moral and financial problems stem from the fact that we’re sliding away from a mythical time of moral and financial rectitude. We aren’t: there is no once upon a time.
Then in the Epilogue she continues the thought with the following thoughts:
It doesn’t hurt to look back to the past and realize how much we’ve achieved. If nothing else, it enables us to look into the future with optimism and courage, instead of the creeping fear that things inevitably get worse as time goes on.
Check out Natalie Haynes’s website.
Remember to check out Hellenic Public Radio’s/ CosmosFM’s website.