Recorded history spans the last 5,000 years – but is, writes Nick Taylor in this thought-provoking book, more accurately thought of as “his-story, the period of time when men have been in charge.”
He adds that, “his-story includes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, materialism, communism and capitalism […] But it is all one story: the story of the dominance of the masculine.”
The author cites the written word, agriculture, cities, private property, war, hereditary monarchy and a monotheistic (belief in one god) worldview among the forces that have shaped our world and, as he points out, so pervaded human culture that they’ve become synonymous with it in most minds. But what we consider to be eternal realities are in fact “temporary examples of a one-sided tale, repeatedly told to glorify the masculine, denigrate the feminine and affect all our ideas of life, from who rules the heavens to who does the cleaning.”
Impeccably researched and beautifully written, the point of this book is, “to remind us that this last age has been a cultural creation and, as such, it has a beginning and will have an end.”
But for the time being, writes Taylor, “Whether in terms of our diet, anxieties around our bodies, attitudes to animals, children and Nature in general, or our sense of gender and sexuality, his-story is a force negatively affecting each of us. A story that elevates the masculine while forbidding, alienating and negating the feminine is fatally unbalanced.
“2011 AD is not 2011 BC but the parallels between then and now are striking. The lion’s share of the wealth in the hands of a few men; frequent war between neighbouring states over rival ideologies; an irrational but pervading sense that women are less than men; abuse of animals and Nature to secure the power base of the successful few.”
The book starts by exploring how his-story began, with an analysis of the changes that took place in Ancient Mesopotamia around 3000 BC, charting the movement away from harmonious, goddess-based culture towards ideas of ownership, conflict and division.
It then moves on to look at how the masculine principle has spanned the millennia and continues to affect everything from our relationship with the planet to the way we bring up our children and consider our bodies.
Pollution, famine, war, depression, social alienation… All, writes Taylor, are rooted in the dominance of the masculine over the feminine.
In the final section of the book he offers solutions – from embracing the transition movement and placing the well-being of Mother Earth as a central principle within our political landscapes to gathering in circle, dancing and playing.
“If the last age told us one story, unbalanced and aggressive, then the time is approaching for other stories to be remembered,” he writes.
“To encourage the resurgence of the feminine is about welcoming the circle as well as the straight line, to embrace the infinite spiral as well as the male need to order beginnings and endings, to open our lives up to dance and play, and to remember how to respect the life force in every creature, plant and element.”
Hard-hitting yet uplifting, this is one of those special books that would transform the world if enough people read it.
The Parable of His-story – A few of my favourite quotes
“We have embraced a financial monotheism that has consistently valued greed over compassion, and the accumulation of pointless junk over meaningful experience. We don’t need the latest face of L’Oreal to make us ask: is this all we’re worth?”
“Division, as many schoolchildren know, is the moment where maths becomes taxing. There’s something innately problematic about splitting things up, and divorce, with the apportioning of crockery and blame, is perhaps the adult example of the suffering that accompanies division. If we want to make things weaker, we split them up. The impulse to split and separate is one of the defining characteristics of this last age.”
“Like us, bees have been devalued, kept in multiple boxes in close confinement and made to work for someone else’s benefit, having their natural gift removed and replaced with artificial sweeteners.”
“Holistic theories aren’t scientific because their theoretical base is completely different from the base on which science is founded […] Problematically, for laboratory-based scientism, holism cannot be taken away from the world, broken up and blind tested.”
“Greed, whether coming from pharmaceutical companies or those equally materially-minded celebrity gurus trying to push their trademarked and personality-drenched supplements at exorbitant prices, finds less profit in helping people get well than in keeping them hungering for health.”
“There is nothing so challenging as to chop wood and carry water when the system is still functioning enough for you to pop to Sainsbury’s for a bap.”
“If this book has any value it is to remind us that the last age has been a cultural creation and, as such, it has a beginning and will have an end.”