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Derrick Jensen’s Endgame, a two-volume work about the conflict between "civilization" and nature that was one of last year's best releases, is an extension of the motif of wilderness which is rooted in American literature, and thus its anti-civilization argument is less alien to American literary culture than its less sympathetic readers might imagine.  Jensen’s argument, though unduly pessimistic about human versatility, effectively disturbs the easy environmentalism of the "civilized," in which environmental concerns are ineffectually added to the status quo.

I guess I got into this stuff while despairing of the workings of the machine that our culture has become.  Neoliberalism grinds down our planet, provoking disaster left and right; and its opposition seems far too ineffectual to really halt the slide.  Even this year it seems like such an uphill battle, to get those troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, to provide single-payer health insurance instead of forcing individuals to fund the current privatized monster, or really to get anything to change short of the onrushing catastrophe.  We certainly won't do much here at DailyKos if we can't do better than electing sell-outs to avoid electing other, ostensibly worse, sell-outs.

And as for "entertainment"?  I'm 45, I'm bored.  Cultural innovation is stagnant now; the supermarkets play oldies on their sound systems because that's the best we've achieved.  Grant me the sort of love that can contribute to sophisticated, meaningful conversation, and a community of people with the wisdom to actively resist our culture's obsession with the excitement of the present moment.

Perhaps I just need a break from the freeway monster that takes me to work; but I doubt that a break would really change anything.  Getting out of debt might change something: pay off those $30,000 of student loan debts, then find a way of disappearing from the money economy.  Anyway, Derrick Jensen, one of my favorite bathroom writers, put out some great stuff last year, which belongs in the mainstream for both literary and social-scientific purposes.  So here goes:

There is a typical motif in American literature organized around the motif of wilderness.  The wilderness motif runs pretty much as follows: There is something wrong with the civilization we live in, for the performers of the wilderness motif; and so we must go to a material or symbolic wilderness, and redeem ourselves in it.  The most famous performer of this motif is Henry David Thoreau: his Walden is an important document of escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life and the mainstream desire to conquer and "tame" the American continent’s wildernesses.  Roderick Nash’s Wilderness and the American Mind connects Thoreau and his literary predecessors to the preservationist movement of the Progressive Era as well as to more recent literary patrons of wilderness such as John McPhee and Aldo Leopold in homage to the motif of wilderness, but one can find the wilderness motif in such overanalyzed classics as Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  

Now, if you remember reading "Huckleberry Finn" in high school, or even if you don't, you should know this much: at the end of Twain’s book, Tom Sawyer (the conniving, proto-capitalist protagonist of another famous Mark Twain volume) speculates about how Huck and Jim and him would "slide out of here one of these nights and get an outfit, and go for howling adventures among the Injuns." As for our main character, Huckleberry Finn, his last words are that "I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it.  I been there before."  At the end, then, of what is possibly American literature's most analyzed novel, Mark Twain suggested that our affinity for Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer is connected to an antipathy to being "sivilized" and an attraction to wilderness, and not just our love of boyhood adventure stories.

The wilderness motif has made an appearance in some overdue corrections to the standard Eurocentric narrative of American history.  Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, for instance, points to the existence of laws against joining the Indians, pointing to the notion that many of the European settlers of the New World found it preferable to live with the natives than with their own people.

Radical "deep ecology" fashions this motif into a political philosophy.  Devall and Sessions’ Deep Ecology argues that "the well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on earth have value in themselves.  These values are independent of the usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes."  (70)  Thus, the domesticated world that has been harnessed for human purposes becomes irrelevant to the deep ecologists, who value wilderness as the basic state of existence.

Derrick Jensen’s Endgame takes the next step beyond deep ecology in the literary progression of the wilderness motif.  In Endgame, civilization itself is regarded as malevolent, and we must somehow act to destroy it before it destroys wilderness, itself, and everything.  Endgame is a manifesto of primitivism, and against "civilization."

Jensen’s definition, and usage of, "civilization" needs to be elaborated if readers are to fully understand his perspective.  It goes as follows:

I would define a civilization much more precisely, and I believe more usefully, as a culture – that is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts – that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities... with cities being defined – so as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so on – as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life. (17)

Jensen then proceeds to describe "Western civilization" as the single biggest violent molester of the world.  Jensen is a genius at writing up this stuff, by the way: he can pour out hundreds and hundreds of pages on these themes, and the writing never gets boring.  Keep a volume in your bathroom.

Now, this argument has appeared in previous incarnations of Jensen’s work, notably in A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make-Believe.  And Jensen is not the inventor of primitivism: Stanley Diamond’s In Search of the Primitive is Endgame’s ancestor.

Jensen’s definition of "civilization" gives his argument rational meaning.  Reading his definition, I am reminded of something Paul Prew wrote in his essay The 21st Century World Ecosystem:

Although capitalism must expand both extensively and intensively, our earthly biosphere is finite. There must be centers of accumulation and regions of extraction. The flow of energy and materials tends to occur geographically from the peripheries to the core, while the waste tends to be concentrated in the peripheral regions. This flow tends to create a division between town and country, but the expansion of capitalism, necessary to its logic, poses limits to the development of these polar relationships. The peripheries develop complexity at the same time that values are depleted, but peripheral regions must develop complexity in a certain fashion to serve the needs of the core. So called "development" is not possible for all regions of the world because of the nature of global world-system and the very logic of capitalism.

The question to be asked, really, is whether we proceed with capitalism until we reach an ecological bifurcation point that leaves the habitability of the earth in question for the vast majority of the population, or we reach a social bifurcation point that leads us to a social system of production that is dissipative, nonetheless, but does not threaten the flowing balance of nature. (emphases mine -- c)

So this is where we are at, and in the world Prew describes, albeit abstractly, we have Jensen’s primitivist moral parables.  Fitting stuff for the realities of our times.

At the beginning of both of Jensen's volumes are a set of twenty "premises" which are implied in the rest of the anecdotes, tales, and moral invocations which comprise the rest of the volumes.  I will not recite these premises here: their sum effect, however, is to recharacterize morality and moral law as something completely foreign to the status quo.  In the pages of Jensen's books, the parables he tells reveals the morality of a different sort of society, a society we aren't.  An example:

The conflict resolution methods of a culture of occupation will be different from those of a culture of inhabitation.  The Okanagans of what is now British Columbia, to provide a coutnerexample, have a concept they call En'owkin, which means "I challenge you to give me your most opposite perspective to mine.  In that way I will know how to change my thinking so I can accomodate your concerns and problems."  The Okanagan writer and activist Jeannette Armstrong told me why her people developed this and similar technologies. "We don't have any fewer problems than you guys getting along.  But we know that whomever we're having trouble with, their  grandchild might marry our grandchild.  So we have to accomodate one another.  I have to ask myself how I can change to accomodate you.  At the same time, because you, too, are Okanagan, you will be asking how you can change to accomodate me.  We're going to be leaning toward one another."  She talks of how all the people in her community share one skin.  They share that skin with all of the people who came before, and all who will come after.  This applies in a sense to their nonhuman neighbors as well.

In Jensen’s view of things, however, the participants in civilization will not change their minds and change their ways, at least not at a rate fast enough to stop civilization from destroying everything.  The alternative, then, is to act forcefully to destroy civilization.  This is discussed in greater detail in the second of Jensen's two volumes, titled Resistance.

The basic concept of Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization is as follows:

Cities, the defining feature of civilization, have always relied on taking resources from the surrounding countryside, meaning, first, that no city has ever been or ever will be sustainable on its own, and second, that in order to continue their ceaseless expansion cities must ceaselessly expand the areas they must ceaselessly hyperexploit.  I’m sure you can see the problems this presents and the end point it must reach on a finite planet. (37)

But this isn’t a tale of cities; rather, Jensen tries to show in a hundred different ways the destructive capacity of our culture.  "What, precisely, is this culture’s calculus of casualties?" (64)  The culture is equated with a perpetrator of domestic violence, which "must simply be stopped" before it acts upon its urge to destroy all life.

Jensen does not imagine that the normal ways of dealing with violence (passing laws against it, calling the cops, writing one’s Congressmember, protesting it, and so on) will do any good.  Or, rather, they didn’t work back when the patrons of our culture were busy slaughtering the native peoples of this land, violently abusing their women, and exploiting their imported African slaves, they didn’t work during the last dozen US invasions of far-off countries, and they aren’t going to work now.  "Those in power time and again show no hesitation at killing to gain and maintain access to resources or to otherwise increase their power." (199)
 
There’s plenty of material on this stuff, from the antics of "Climber Eric" as he tortures tree-sitters while in the pay of Pacific Lumber (203), to CIA torture manuals (214) to the US atrocities against the Philippines after the Spanish-American War (223) to US bioweapons activities (240) and so on.  Jensen’s book The Culture of Make-Believe is all about this, as well as his discussion of the slaughter in the forests, Strangely Like War.  The problem is one of what to do about it.

Jensen is not a believer in pacifism.  Rather, he thinks that the abusers who dominate our society do so out of a sense of entitlement (561), and pacifism is flawed because it does not disturb that sense of entitlement.  Neither, for that matter, will terrorist attacks of the sort that happened on September 11, 2001 work, for the same reasons.  And Jensen doesn’t think people’s minds can be changed about "civilization": they’re locked into it, he imagines, out of neurotic compulsion.

For these reasons, and more, he imagines a group of people large enough could "take down" civilization as it stands.  The plan he has drawn out does not appear to have covered all of the things that could go wrong.  And he doesn’t appear to have examined, thoroughly enough, the possibility that the course of events could work in tandem with campaigns for social change to change the collective minds of the human race in any important way.  Jensen seems more intent upon taking out the pacifists than he is with the more difficult envisioning of social change.  Nevertheless Jensen is right on a number of important points:

  1. People are destroying planetary ecologies in the name of corporate profit.
  2. To deal with this reality, we must get "back to the land," into basic subsistence.
  3. Civilization will collapse anyway, whether we want it or not, and the sooner it collapses, the less it will take down with it (305).

Like the rest of us, Jensen contends with the 500-year history of capitalist discipline, a history most succinctly related in Kees van der Pijl's The History of Class Struggle.  As van der Pijl suggests:

In its constant quest for unpaid labor and its constant efforts to raise the rate of exploitation in the actual labor process, capital repeatedly exhausts the available human and natural resources on which it feeds and penetrates ever deeper into its social and natural substratum.

 You and I have been conditioned by this beast called "capital," and don't try to imagine otherwise.

In trying to envision alternatives to the current civilization, with its economic basis in capitalism (Jensen gets this right, too), then, we are dealing with 500 years of conditioning that has made us into wage laborers, owners, traders, consumers, and debtors.  Sure, Jensen can discuss the spectacular ways in which our civilization is destructive, out there in northern California near Crescent City next to the salmon whose run he defends.  It’s the everyday, mundane ways, the ones we practice every day, which will persuade us that we ourselves are killers.

And Jensen’s primary tactic at this point appears to be the writing of big books and the engagement of speaking tours to persuade small publics that primitivism is worth their efforts.  A mass audience, however, might need a different message, one that addresses different life-experiences.  It must be added, somehow, that Derrick Jensen is a very good writer, and that rhetorical elements of his message will find their ways into the mass "stop now" message of the future.  It may look something like this:

Want to avoid billions of future deaths due to abrupt climate change?  You’ve got to stop the rampant spread of carbon dioxide "emissions" from the burning of fossil fuels.  Want to stop abrupt climate change?  What do the experts say?  From the Monthly Review:

The truth is that addressing the global warming threat to any appreciable degree would require at the very least a chipping away at the base of the system. The scientific consensus on global warming suggests that what is needed is a 60–80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels in the next few decades in order to avoid catastrophic environmental effects by the end of this century—if not sooner. The threatening nature of such reductions for capitalist economies is apparent in the rather hopeless state at present of the Kyoto Protocol, which required the rich industrial countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008–2012. The United States, which had steadily increased its carbon dioxide emissions since 1990 despite its repeated promises to limit its emissions, pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 on the grounds that it was too costly. Yet, the Kyoto Protocol was never meant to be anything but the first, small, in itself totally inadequate step to curtail emissions. The really big cuts were to follow.

Now you have the other experts telling you that this big decrease is necessary.  But is it going to happen in a growth-bound, capitalist economy?  No, it’s not.

Can’t give up capitalism?  Think you’ll adapt?  How will you adapt when the oil runs out?  Care to explain how you’ll fill it up with gasoline at $20/gallon?  How about when the US Dollar loses its value and your savings and wages become worthless?  Or maybe you like to experiment.  Would you like to know what it’s like to live in an ecology where most of the large mammals outside of cats and dogs, and many of the other important species necessary for a healthy agricultural ecology (as the agriculture itself feeds you) are being driven into extinction?  Well guess what – you’re living that experiment right now: ask Leakey and Lewin why they wrote The Sixth Extinction.

Jensen likes to ask his readers to "do something" now and then in his long, sprawling writing, without putting any strings on what it is they will do, which of course is up to them.  At the end of the two volumes, he suggests:

Do not listen to me.  I do not live where you do.  I do not know how to live there sustainably.  I do not even know how to live here sustainably.  If you want to know what to do, go to the nearest river, the nearest mountain, the nearest native tree, the nearest soil, and ask it what it needs.  Ask it to teach you.  It knows how to live there.  It has lived there a very long time.  It will teach you.  All you need to do is ask, and ask again, and ask again.  (887)

This is musical writing, as if Jensen were composing an anthem to the spirit of the lost world of pre-civilization.  It may not change anything at all.  It makes me want to compose my own via negativa lyrics: "Listen to the freeway, millions of cars running their engines down while spewing carbon dioxide.  Listen further.  If you've gotten used to it, you're not listening hard enough: listen until you go insane."

But if we’re all going to sing our own tunes, not knowing if these tunes are authentically our own (and Horkheimer and Adorno’s "Culture Industry" essay should have made us doubt THAT), some of us might as well write up some musical prose that sings a discordant halt to the march to mass destruction.  American literature could do much, much worse.

Originally posted to Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:15 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tip jar (nmi) (16+ / 0-)

    "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

    by Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:06:50 PM PDT

  •  I am not at all familiar with Jensen, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One Pissed Off Liberal

    and I should be. (Just read some interviews, etc.) But I suspect I will have major problems with him when I get around to it. For one thing, where does this line of argument lead? For another, it is one thing to argue, as I would, that civilization has taken a wrong turn, and another to argue that it is bad in itself. Bad for what and whom?

    Many problems here but I would look forward to a reasoned criticism from someone more familiar.

    •  Jensen's definition of civilization (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      supak, One Pissed Off Liberal

      I think he's concerned about the type of society that produces cities, is relentlessly imperialist, and imposes its order through force.

      "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

      by Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:17:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Part of my (5+ / 0-)
        • anticipated - problem. There is a point to specialization. The residents of NYC use far fewer resources per capita than those of South Dakota, for instance. There is a reason for cities.

        I have loved living in two places in my life. Downtown in an urban center, and in the middle of nowhere. It's the places in between I don't understand.

        •  Please reformat the last comment in your mind. (0+ / 0-)

          I forgot about all the little "assists" here.

        •  City vs. Country (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eastmt, One Pissed Off Liberal

          The residents of NYC use far fewer resources per capita than those of South Dakota, for instance.

          I am skeptical of this.  What evidence do you have, and did it take into account the amount of "natural resources" it takes to build NYC from materials gathered from places such as South Dakota?  Are we assuming a priori that South Dakotans have no choice but to live the American Way of Life?

          "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

          by Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 08:14:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was thinking of energy specifically, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger, Cassiodorus

            per person. It is too late right now for me to go on an expedition for this, but Byron Dorgan agrees. And you could amortize the buildings.

            From your past postings I assume you understand more than the usual good/bad fingerpointing around here.

            It is not about SDers being evil people. If you live and work in farm country, like I do, it is just a simple fact that you use more fossil fuel, for one big, big thing. Rural America lives as best it can. Right now, that involves a lot of fossil fuel use.    

            For god's sake, it isn't a matter of good people and bad people. Forgive me if I am misjudging your intent, but this site seems more ridiculous every day with all the Manicheanism, fingerpointing, and reductionism.

            •  Fossil fuel use consumption (0+ / 0-)

              How would you calculate it?

              I suppose you could start by looking at the amount of gasoline your car uses, but that's just for starters.  What about the fossil fuel use involved in bringing food to your table?  Shouldn't we factor in all of the trucks and trains and so forth that move that food from farm to market so you can buy it?  And then there are all the other imports... It seems to me that this is where the numbers for the NYC residents go up, as cities are by nature imperialist entities...

              I suppose the total calculation will take into account the notion that life in the countryside, under the conditions of capitalist production, does not shake off the countryside's economic subordination to the city, and so there must be numerous trips "into town."  What do you think, btw, of Wes Jackson?

              As for all the bickering on DKos, the only folks to have really invoked my ire are those who demand that we all respect their Two-Minute Hate whenever Ralph Nader's name is mentioned.  Nobody is required to like Ralph Nader, but he doesn't deserve our hatred.

              It's no secret, btw, where I stand philosophically -- my second diary reveals my biases pretty clearly, though I don't bicker about candidates.  People are going to support who they will, and the end result will depend largely upon how firmly everyone pledges allegiance to the US Dollar.  At most I will suggest that it is not wise to support sell-outs.  Everyone is tied into the system, and if we're bright about it we try to promote some sort of post-capitalist life now so that there will be something there when it crashes.

              "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

              by Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:41:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  In a few words... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Cassiodorus

    we should study and apply the principles and culture of the original inhabitants of this continent, and apply technology only within the realms of future sustainability.  Period.

    Tall order, but simple and true.

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." Chief Joseph - Nez Perce

    by Gabriele Droz on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:29:13 PM PDT

    •  Elaborating on this..... (6+ / 0-)

      here are phrases of past wisdom from the people of these lands:

      "Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children."
      Sitting Bull

      "All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth."
      Chief Seattle

      "It does not require many words to speak the truth."
      Chief Joseph – Nez Perce

      "A treaty, in the minds of our people, is an eternal word.  Events often make it seem expedient to depart from the pledged word, but we are conscious that the first departure creates a logic for the second departure, until there is nothing left of the word."
      Declaration of Indian Purpose (1961) – American Indian Chicago Conference

      "Look at me – I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation.  We do not want riches, but we do want to train our children right.  Riches would do us no good.  We could not take them with us to the other world.  We do not want riches.  We want peace and love."
      Red Cloud – Sioux

      "Praise, flattery, exaggerated manners, and fine, high-sounding words were no part of Lakota politeness.  Excessive manners were put down as insincere, and the constant talker was considered rude and thoughtless.  Conversation was never begun at once, or in a hurried manner.

      "No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer.  A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation."
      Chief Luther Standing Bear – Teton Sioux

      "We are all poor because we are all honest."
      Red Dog – Oglala Sioux

      "No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthy action, but the consciousness of having served his nation."
      Josepth Brant (Thayendanega) – Mohawk

      "Something is wrong with the white man’s council.  When the Micmac people used to have council, the old men would speak and tell the young men what to do – and the young men would listen and do what old men told them to.  The white men have changed that too: now the young men speak, and the old men listen.  I believe the Micmac Council was far better."
      Peter Paul (1865)

      We send our little Indian boys and girls to school, and when they come back talking English, they come back swearing.  There is no swear word in the Indian languages, and I haven’t yet learned to swear.

      Zitkala-Sa – Yankton Sioux

      "Why should you take by force from us that which you can obtain by love?  Why should you destroy us who have provided you with food?  What can you get by war?"
      King Wahunsonacook – Powhatan

      "My friends, how desperately do we need to be loved and to love."
      Chief Dan George

      Suppose a white man should come to me and say, "Joseph, I like your horses.  I want to buy them."  I way to him, "No, my horses suit me; I will not sell them."  Then he goes to my neighbor and says to him, "Joseph has some good horses.  I want to buy them, but he refuses to sell."  My neighbor answers, "Pay me the money and I will sell you Joseph’s horses."  The white man returns to me and says, "Joseph, I have bought your horses and you must let me have them."  If we sold our lands to the government, this is the way they bought them.
      Chief Joseph – Nez Perce

      "Old age was simply a delightful time, when the old people sat on the sunny doorsteps, playing in the sun with the children, until they fell asleep.  At last, they failed to wake up."
      James Paytiamo – Acoma Pueblo

      "I have attended dinners among white people.  Their ways are not out ways.  We eat in silence quietly smoke a pipe, and depart.  Thus is our host honored.  This is not the way of the white man.  After his food has been eaten, one is expected to say foolish things.  Then the host feels honored."
      Four Guns – Oglala Sioux

      "The white man who is our agent is so stingy that he carries a linen rage in his pocket into which to blow his nose, for fear he might blow away something of value."
      Piapot – Cree Chief

      "Civilization has been thrust upon me...and it has not added one whit to my love for truth, honesty, and generosity..."
      Chief Luther Standing Bear – Oglala Sioux

      "The more I consider the condition of the white men, the more fixed becomes my opinion that, instead of gaining, they have lost much by subjecting themselves to what they call the laws and regulations of civilized societies."
      Tomochichi – Creek Chief

      "It does not require many words to speak the truth." Chief Joseph - Nez Perce

      by Gabriele Droz on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:32:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A sad collection.... (0+ / 0-)

        People who have been overrun, plowed under (sometimes literally), trying to salvage a precarious sense of moral victory by clever words.

        If you go searching through Western civilization you'll find many noble words too. Eastern civilization. Any civilization.

        You will also find the sort of childish, culture-bound remark best epitomized by Piapot above on hankerchiefs. It seems your well of "noble" for Native Americans ran dry pretty quickly. I think I could have put together a better collection of high-sounding quotes myself.

        Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

        by sagesource on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:32:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'll read this in full shortly, but (4+ / 0-)

    for the moment let me quarrel with your statement that "the supermarkets play oldies on their sound systems because that's the best we've achieved."

    They play oldies because that's what they consider the broadest market-pleaser, which is quite different from "the best we've achieved".

    I'm a boomer, love the oldies and all that, but having seriously studied popular music of the last century for many decades I can say with considerable assurance that "the best we've achieved" is the pop tradition that ran from the 1920s through the 1940s (give or take) that drew from ragtime, kletzmer, blues, jazz and swing, and included songwriters like Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin, Ma Rainey, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Billy Strayhorn - Tin Pan Alley to post-war Broadway.

    The songs are more melodic, the chord structures are often far more complex, and the lyrics are a lot more clever than current stuff.  Dylan = great, Beatles = great, but overall the earlier stuff was simply all-around better.

    Just sayin'.

    Impeach the cheerleader; save the world.

    by Bob Love on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:48:17 PM PDT

  •  Glad to see this diary! (3+ / 0-)

    I suspect Jensen is over the top for most people on this site, but his writing makes a lot of sense to me.

    He's got a thing about dams, doesn't he?  I have finished Endgame I and I got about a third of the way into Endgame II and I couldn't stay focused.  I think the writing in I was more focused and captivating than what I've read so far in II.  I'll have to pick it back up when school ends for the summer.

    The convergence of global recession, peak oil, global warming, etc. may render his "cure" moot.  We might not have to bust up any dams; everything may just well fall apart!

    Thanks for the well-written diary!

    "It is up to the most conscious member of the relationship to create the space for the relationship to grow." Ram Dass

    by bosuncookie on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:52:09 PM PDT

  •  At this late date (6+ / 0-)

    to press technology to serve the best interests of the (human) species, and to fully comprehend that the best interests of the species requires an abundant and diverse planetary ecology.

    We don't have to live in senseless suburbs any more.  We can live in physical arrangements that maximize planetary health, and work from anywhere.

    What we need as a social species is contact with each other, and that can be accomodated in any number of ways without killing the planet around us.

    It would help, of course, if we could 1) grow beyond capitalism and 2) moderate the human population.

    General thoughts.

    Impeach the cheerleader; save the world.

    by Bob Love on Tue May 08, 2007 at 07:55:02 PM PDT

  •  A very different view of death (0+ / 0-)

    and physical suffering might be required to arrive at Jensen's proposed state of affairs. If sacrificing one's own life out of biophilia was generally viewed as a noble and reasonable act, perhaps we could make some progress.  

    Mother Nature bats last.

    by pigpaste on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:19:57 PM PDT

    •  I can't resist saying it.... (0+ / 0-)

      Everyone with such opinions is more than welcome to carry them into effect by killing themselves. I would suggest they change their opinions rather than take this extreme and irreversible step, but if they are truly sincere in their delusions and can find no way back to reality....

      Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

      by sagesource on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:39:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I don't see many volunteers, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        but having read one of DJ's books, it's hard to see how he expects us to get from here to where he thinks we should be without some large population reduction and technological winding down. (I'm not advocating, just observing.)

        Mother Nature bats last.

        by pigpaste on Tue May 08, 2007 at 10:38:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let's be blunt... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    Jensen is a childish moralistic onanist.

    He himself knows that his "program" has no chance at all to be carried into effect.

    It's easy to bleat and idealize dead and moribund civilizations. But if you have nothing practical to say, well, you've got the right to say it, but we don't have the duty to take it seriously.

    And for the sake of whatever's holy, anyone above the age of 35 on this site can count multiple ways that the world was supposed to have ended already. I'm still waiting for the nuclear war that David Suzuki promised me. Or the global cooling that he promised me before that. Or the global cooling caused by nuclear war; the man must have been so proud to hit the bifecta.

    But in the end, the prophets of doom are still here, as are we. The prophets are a bit richer, and we are a bit more cynical.

    That is not a good development when we come across a real threat, such as global warming.

    Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

    by sagesource on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:38:10 PM PDT

    •  Let's be blunt -- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      supak, One Pissed Off Liberal

      Jensen is a childish moralistic onanist.

      This is an ad hominem conmment.

      He himself knows that his "program" has no chance at all to be carried into effect.

      A lot of what Jensen does is "throwing out ideas."  Would you discourage this?

      It's easy to bleat and idealize dead and moribund civilizations. But if you have nothing practical to say,

      Do read my quote of Jensen's depiction of the Okanagan, and discuss its particulars when weighing "practicality."

      And for the sake of whatever's holy, anyone above the age of 35 on this site can count multiple ways that the world was supposed to have ended already.

      First off, Jensen knows he isn't preaching the end of the world.  The end of civilization isn't the end of the world, and nature will certainly outlast us.  This much he knows for sure.  He does recognize, however, that what he calls "civilization" (do see the above definition, and respect its premise) will take down a good lot of what he reveres before it dies.

      Secondly, just because previous proponents of collapse were wrong doesn't mean current proponents are.  This is what the writers of argumentation textbooks call a "hasty generalization."

      "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

      by Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:54:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What we need now.... (0+ / 0-)

    Is a workable source for cheap and virtually limitless energy. Fusion can't come on line soon enough.

    In thirty years, I suspect we'll see a combination of fusion, solar power, and wind power. At that point, a lot of the questions above will look plain imbecile. They'll sound like someone thundering a hundred and forty years ago, "What will you do for light when whale oil is a hundred dollars a gallon?" Well, we'll use something else, stupid.

    In a few decades, we will also get to see people like Jensen going through another set of elaborate intellectualist contortions to damn modern society. It will be funny. I've already got a decent collection of previous predictions of doom. They make interesting reading a few decades after being written.

    Jensen is like the guy who can't dance and thus insists that dancing is sinful, or the person who never wins at cards and so wants to ban gambling. It's not enough for him that he has an aesthetic aversion to modern society; he has to comfort himself with the fantasy of its destruction as well. Sign of a small and sick mind, I would say.

    Through tattered clothes great vices do appear / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. (King Lear)

    by sagesource on Tue May 08, 2007 at 09:49:29 PM PDT

    •  Energy -- (0+ / 0-)

      What we need now....Is a workable source for cheap and virtually limitless energy.

       And the achievement of this rather improbable Disneyland fantasy will allow the globe's dominant corporation to appropriate every natural resource on Earth, strip it of its indigenous qualities, package it, and sell it as a commodity in the world's supermarkets for the immense profit of those in the corporate boardrooms.

      Or maybe we will create massive spaceships to transport everyone to the several unused Earthlike planets we will need (under conditions of capitalism) in order to grant everyone access to the American Way of Life.  That is, if they can all be made to pay their way while working at near-zero wages...

      "This is an impressive crowd, the have and the have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base." - George W. Bush

      by Cassiodorus on Tue May 08, 2007 at 10:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ecological bifurcation point... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    The question to be asked, really, is whether we proceed with capitalism until we reach an ecological bifurcation point that leaves the habitability of the earth in question for the vast majority of the population, or we reach a social bifurcation point that leads us to a social system of production that is dissipative, nonetheless, but does not threaten the flowing balance of nature.

    Overshoot. It's written in our growth values.

    Thanks for the diary.

  •  Way out there, of course, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    but a great thought exercise. It's important for us to think about such things. The earth will survive whatever we do to it, but what it will look like is very much up to us.

    This reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes ever, from the Matrix:

    Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

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