What shapes our sense of place, our sense of time, and our memory? How is technology changing the way we make sense of the world and of ourselves?
The human brain’s ability to adapt has been an evolutionary advantage for the last 40,000 years, but now, for the first time in human history, we’re effectively living in two environments at once - the natural and the digital - and many of the traits that help us online don’t help us offline, and vice versa. Drawing on his experience of acclimating to a life of solitude in the woods and then to digital life upon his return to the city, Howard Axelrod explores the human brain’s impressive but indiscriminate ability to adapt to its surroundings. The Stars in Our Pockets is a portrait of, as well as a meditation on, what Axelrod comes to think of as "inner climate change." Just as we’re losing diversity of plant and animal species due to the environmental crisis, so too are we losing the diversity and range of our minds due to changes in our cognitive environment.
As we navigate the rapid shifts between the physical and digital realms, what traits are we trading without being aware of it? The Stars in Our Pockets is a personal and profound reminder of the world around us and the worlds within us - and how, as alienated as we may sometimes feel, they were made for each other.
"In his new book Howard Axelrod makes a compelling argument for drawing a new kind of map, one that helps us as we search and stumble between the borderlines of our digital and physical worlds...an intimate book; he discusses big themes, big ideas, but the feel is as though you are leaning in close across a table in a dimly lit space...he is someone who pays close attention to attention, asking that we consider how the world enters us (and how we enter it) and arguing that our solitude is what unites us. His book serves as guide as how to reckon with that fact, together." (The Boston Globe)
"Poetic, ruminative, and never preachy, this book is a game changer for readers who yearn to see beyond 240 characters." (Booklist starred review)
"A provocative inquiry... Refreshingly, Axelrod doesn’t deliver a screed against cybertechnology but rather a series of philosophical meditations on the consequences of connecting ourselves digitally to the point where the realm of the screen is a world unto itself." (Kirkus Reviews starred review)