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Who Do You Think You Are?-bookcover

By: M. J. Rosenberg

Who Do You Think You Are?

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This is at once a personal memoir and the story of what it is like to grow up and live alienated from the values of the society into which one was born. In the deeply fissured modern world, many now find themselves similarly in places where rival ideologies and interests are tearing their worlds apart. This is an account of how awareness of such a world reveals itself. In South Africa apartheid succeeded in enshrining its own particular values in law. But the roots of what had brought its monstrosity into being have never been confined to South Africa. They remain plain to see in the world today: intolerance, bigotry, fanaticism  xenophobia, racism, nationalism. 

In this memoir, Hitler’s installation as German Chancellor and the rise of Nazism leads directly to the author’s early sense of not belonging: a growth in awareness of the reasons for the feeling and acute sensibility to the rifts and fractures lying beneath the surface of a comfortable domestic life. It clarifies how personal beliefs may become diametrically opposed to those of the society to which one belongs by birth. So the question of identity quickly arises: ‘Where do I fit in? Who am I?’ It was this that many Whites asked themselves in apartheid South Africa, but it is also one that increasingly must be asked by many today.

M. J. Rosenberg was born in Johannesburg in 1933. He was educated in Johannesburg, Saxonwold Primary School and then Parktown Boys High School. He went to Witwatersrand University from where he completed his BA English and Philosophy in 1953, BSc Mathematics, Mathematical Statistics and Psychology in 1956. He married Greta Hilewitz in 1958 and emigrated to England in 1959. They divorced in 1966 but she continued to be his closest friend. He then married Dawn Jacobson. He got his PhD in Cybernetics from Brunel University in 1972. Rosenberg published The Cybernetics of Art – Reason and the Rainbow in 1978. He now lives seven months of the year in Kensington, London and the remaining five months in Constantia in Cape Town.

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