Friday, August 14, 2009

lunch with jared diamond

Financial Times | Jared Diamond is the guru of collapse. Collapse is the title of one of the books that have made him a world-famous academic. It is a theme that captures the Zeitgeist: markets have collapsed, banks have collapsed and confidence, even in the capitalist system itself, has collapsed.

Diamond’s celebrated book – which added to the reputation he earned through Guns, Germs andSteel, a Pulitzer prize-winner about why some societies triumph over others – sought to discover what makes civilisations, many at their apparent zenith, crumble overnight. The Maya of Central America, the stone-carving civilisation of Easter Island, and the Soviet Union – all suddenly shattered.

The question lurking in Diamond’s work is: could we be next? Could the great skyscrapers of Manhattan one day become deserted canyons of a bygone civilisation, a modern version of Ozymandias’s trunkless legs of stone?