Conversations about Nature, Culture and Eros
published by Sierra Club Books 2002.
In order to see the dim twinkling stars, deep in the night sky, you cannot look directly at them, or they will dissappear, a function of the rods and cones in our retinas. Instead, if we look just to the side or just beyond, and observe them in the slight periphery, we can then keep the star in focus. In coming to understand the big questions of these times, of life, we must come at it in the same, round-a-bout way, always keeping observation in the periphery. This metaphor comes to me from Paul Shepard, who I was lead to through the Derrick Jensen in this book of interviews, which does so gracefully this.
Why do we act as we do? What is the relationship between technological innovation and human misery? Is there a direct relationship between environmental destruction and other forms of oppression, such as misogyny and genocide? Is there hope? What are the paths to reconnection? How do we remember to listen?
And so in speaking with many eloquent thinkers, through a colorful palette of topics, travelling in concentric circles, this book has opened my heart - and help align my heart with my head and my actions. So here I lay my notes, with links, to see what you and I may find, and connect.
fantastically enough, it looks like the whole interview is online, complete with photos.
He and Christopher Manes are co-founders of EarthFirst! (check out that site: there is some funny stuff there.) They are some hard-core activists, and some eloquent thinkers. These conversations made me think of how in Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver paints magic around the importance of predators to the food chain: us humans need to see other big creatures around us. ( The thought of this brings me to near tears somehow. I am so deeply grateful that daily I see the gentle eyes of blacktailed deer, and often feel the feline eyes of cougar watching me as i walk home alone late at night. I feel the truth and humility in this, and ache for the millions of numbed city creatures devoid of this consciousness.)
A summary of his book: Other Creations: Rediscovering the spirituality of animals.
excels at asking questions. Designer, professor and chair of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. He emphasises how we must reconnect to our communities and localities, and one way is through stories.
continues " Narrative is the basic modality in which the which the human mind functions." Modern people are in difficulty because the biblical story we live by has become disfunctional. With the story carrying no meaning, our lives becoming meaningless. His work on co-creating a new story is published by the Harvard Divinity School.
And there is bonding- every least particle is bonded with every other least particle. Everything is integral and interacts with everything else. This means tha nothing is itself without everyonthing else. There is a commanality, an integrity, and intimacy of the universe with itself.
And that intimicay, I think, is the fulfillment of the universe, withthe conditioned on the uniquness of things. Saint Thomas has a wonderful phrase, where he speaks of difference as the prfection of the universe.
Uniqueness is communion with. Thats what the universe is all about.
DJ: does the universe then have a purpose?
TB: The purpose is simly existance. And the glory of existance. Thats the ultimate purpose of everything - existance and self-delight in existance.
continues the dialogue on reconnecting using a new narrative
Fellow citizens, reality has turned out to be a lot more complex than we thought. Our tradition, always conscientious and hard-working, clung so fiercely to the mechanistic, reductionist model of the natural world for 300 years that we got a lot wrong. Throughout this century, however, we’ve been gradually correcting our orientation. Now, with the breakthroughs of the new sciences, we’re making many exciting discoveries about the subtle interconnectedness in and among our bodies, nature, the biosphere, and the whole universe. This brings us a new respect, which we hope you’ll share, for other traditions that perceived that sort of interrelatedness all along, such as religion, art, and native peoples’ worldviews.to continue
John A Livingston
Author of One Cosmic Instant: a Natural History of Human Arrogance, The Falacy of Wildlife Conservation, and Rogue Primate: An Exploration of Human Domestication. He is a professor emeritus at York University where he taught from '70 to '92. President of Canadian Nature Federation and the first producer of The Nature of Things.
"The Ecosphere in which we live is a web that envelops all organisms and ecosystems, that gave rise to life in the first place, and that sustains it now. Every organism and every ecosystem is a full participant."
(This quote is from the Ecospheric Ethics website, a fantastic anthology of useable works). Livingston paints cohesive the dialouge that we are not separate from nature, we need to transform our language and thinking patterns away from the self/ other split.
"I think the self/other split is so pernicious because we spend all our time concentratin on self, and we seem to take the idea of other as given. I dont think the coyote sees the bunny as other. She is what she eats, and before she eats it."
His work attempts to rescue Christianity from the destructive tendencies which now surround it. He is the founding director of the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirituality in California.
"How do we teach gratitude? What do you do with your gratitude? Thats part of the mystical impulse. Our whole being, our existance, is a miracle."
His writing of estatic, quote Rilke, speaking of awe, eros, and mystery. We are all part of the mystery, and the acceptance of that is our freedom.
The Arrogance of Humanism is one of the most important texts of the last 20 years, so say the big thinkers. With degrees in history, medicine and zoology, he is professor of biology at Rutgers Universtiy and columnist, author and editor. He works to dismantle our underlying assumptions of humanism, the mightness of science, and our belief that we humans know so much.
" The idea of 'now we know how to do it better' is wrong. When it comes to timber management, we dont really know what to do. We know in Oregon where we've clearcut, that agter three planting the trees still arent growing back ... Because we dont understand the way the world works, we also dont understand the sources and origins of goodness. Unexpectedly, good things happen. They happen fairly often."
"It occured to me once again that the trick was to enter the chaos, not control it, nor to wipe it out with one form on monomania or anothet, and yet at the same time to hold fast to a sense of right conduct, to keep looking outwards, and not to get trapped inside an illusionary net." Author of Yellowfish, Broken Ground, and Out of the Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Prince William Sound.
"Language is a natural resource, or maybe I should say natural wonder, born of the air we`ve taken into our lungs from the atmosphere, loases with the detrius of the air, and shaped by bone and cartilage and flesh as it comes out in words. It's a way we have of keeping contact with each other and of giving form to our dreams. Language is extraordinarily diverse."