Dan Brown’s “Inferno” – Transhumanism and Growth

Several months ago, there was this great post about our laziness when it comes to reading on my WordPress front page. For some reason I couldn’t find a ‘like’ button or something so I just let it be – I didn’t know I’d regret doing so because I want to provide a link to that post. Simply put, it was questioning us whether we are really that lazy to read books that are challenging. One of my resolutions for 2015 being to read more non-fiction books, I deeply agreed to the argument.

But turns out that I was indeed lazy enough to skip difficult and challenging books! My read list this year so far is solely comprised of fictions. But it’s easy, and it’s more difficult to stop reading and go back to whatever I was doing in real life for a job. Especially when you are reading in a foreign language.

My latest entry on my read list is Dan Brown’s “Inferno.”

Mystery and thriller books are probably the most easy to approach. They keep you desiring for more, being engaged in the plot and doing some guesswork here and there. Besides, those based on historical facts like Dan Brown’s even make you feel as if you are being enlightened about a certain period of time in the history! Just like you are watching an interesting educational documentary film at school instead of listening to a lecture. In fact, I came to know a whole lot better about Dante Alighieri reading Inferno. What an interesting life you led, Signor Alighieri.

Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but compare Inferno to The Name of the Rose. (Even though I believe that they do not belong to the same rank to be honest.) One clue leads to another and yet another, placing all the puzzles in place and catching the readers by surprise. Inferno had those turns and twists, and quite a number of them, too. But whereas The Name of the Rose overwhelmed me with so much information with which I was in no way acquainted that I couldn’t possibly read from cover to cover without the help of footnotes, Inferno ‘taught’ me. I think this is one of the points where I thought, I don’t think I like this book that much. Maybe Robert Langdon is a professor for a reason.

The plot mostly taking place in Firenze(I prefer how the Italians call the city to Florence), it might pass as a tourist information book. I am sure that I’m not the only one who felt distracted.. But honestly, the city is beautiful and attractive.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 4.27.34 PMIf I type the word ‘transhumanism,’ the editor automatically draws a red line. The concept is not too old; and by no means mainstream. It’s a very scary thought, for it aims to transform the human race into a more intellectual and physically desirable one with the help of available technologies. I’ve personally been thinking that the technology of today must be way more advanced that is known to the public. It’s just they are too scared to announce it for the fear of it being used against the common good. Of course I agree that the transhumanist changes can be interpreted as ethically wrong. But this novel made me look at it from a different perspective; does what we believe to be the common good really benefit us?

I’ve been considering studying international development cooperation. Since junior high, I was under the impression that we are all responsible for what’s happening on the Earth, and the Earth includes the less developed parts. Enhancing the quality of life, inspiring them to keep developing so the inequality would become smaller and smaller. But the last few years made me think albeit discretely, that maybe we’ve come too far. The air quality is so bad that I can’t run outside for the fear of catching some kind of disease. So maybe assisting less developed countries’ development may not be the better choice.

So I was a tad bit inclined to conform to this transhumanist thought. But not entirely. The work of WHO as described in the book and transhumanism stand exactly opposite each other. The answer does not definitely have to be somewhere in between those two.

Has it never occurred to you that it’s paradoxical to worry about the ever increasing population on the Earth and the decreasing population in a country at the same time? Sometimes we worry about too many people and other times we worry about too few. I haven’t reached the conclusion yet, but I believe that an amendment has to be made about our conventional idea about the development.

The main reason why individual countries are worried about decreasing number of population is because less people means less work force, thus leading to less ‘growth.’ Growth in this context is not physical, of course. It’s economic growth that worries people. Why does economic growth have to be the utmost raison d’être? Is it only achievable via traditional means?

I do not believe that what Dan Brown intended to do was to lead people to consider transhumanism as a viable alternative. Maybe there is no intended hidden message in the book at all! But I came to ponder upon the concept of growth and development assistance. And it was a good read all in all, albeit the traits of a textbook and a travel guidebook. I would give 3.5 out of 5 stars. ★★★☆


4 thoughts on “Dan Brown’s “Inferno” – Transhumanism and Growth

  1. This is pretty fascinating! I loved Inferno (as hilariously paced as it is). Thanks for sharing! If you’re ever interested in some other awesome book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!!!

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