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Benjamin Labatut’s When we don’t understand the world anymore is one of the weirdest and most beautiful books I’ve read in ages. It’s about the horror of trying to understand the world, and how the scientific concepts we use to describe reality are getting closer and closer to reality, moving further away from the everyday world we see and live in with our little person. senses.
We think we live in a world where space and time function in predictable and rational ways. But physics tells us that the universe is full of black holes that exist on both sides of time, and that at the quantum level, mass does not exist as a concrete fact, but as a possibility. How, When we don’t understand the world anymore seems to ask, do we just live in a world that functions like this?
These are rich, heady questions, and they’re hard to parse with any degree of nuance. So I met Labatut live on Zoom to talk them through, and then some. In our full (subtitled) talk above, you can learn why Labatut considers himself a “revelation junkie,” the limitations he sees in science, and why he hates the novel.
To stay informed about the future of the cafemadrid Book Club, Sign up for our newsletterwhere we prepare to talk about our April book, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her body and other parties†