Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Books of 2015

Much but not all of what I read this year was work-related.  My recommendations are:
Owning the Earth by Andro Linklater
Cosmigraphics by Michael Benson
The Vital Question by Nick Lane
Clade by James Bradley
Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Wonderful O by James Thurber
I didn’t see nearly as many films as I would have liked to. Among those I did see that I particularly liked were Timbuktu and Song of the Sea.

I’ve just finished Number 11 by Jonathan Coe, and am reading Rise of The Robots by Martin Ford and After Nature by Jedediah Purdy.

Among the books I hope to read next are Inequality by Anthony Atkinson and Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert.

Image: in July I got to leave my shed and spend a week in another shed. But it was a shed on Eigg with a view of Rùm.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

'A democratic Anthropocene'

...There’s an ethnography of Alaska’s Athabascan peoples, by Richard Nelson, called Make Prayers to the Raven. Its gist is that these “animist” folks don’t revere an abstract Nature, nor do they see it as just a set of resources and logistical problems. They have relations to it, rather like the relations you might have with your partner’s family, or the neighbors, or your co-workers: a bit opaque, touchy, a mix of affection, obligation, and prudence. And these relations are specific—not with Nature, but with the salmon, or a river, or a tree. They are on many scales, again, much like our relations with individuals, institutions, countries, cultures, in our human-on-human lives. 
We can’t decide to be Athabascan, of course, but this strikes me as a promising direction for a realistic, open-minded ethical practice. It takes very seriously that we live with the rest of the world, and it can be a big pain in the ass, or even hurt or kill us, but it is also the only possible site and source of all the joys we can have... 
...In some respects, Anthropocene thinking is ecological thinking turned up to eleven, with a keen awareness not just of the practical relations among human and natural systems, but also of the values at stake in those. 
What I call a democratic Anthropocene is a way of naming the politics that could possibly be up to this situation. It’s about building movements and institutions that move toward an equal voice in shaping the planet. And it’s about building up the capacity to begin engaging in real collective self-constraint...
Jedidiah Purdy interviewed by Ross Andersen.

This goes a lot further and deeper than my ramble, Growing up in the Anthropocene