Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Review: 'American Earth'

I've just been re-reading my all-time favorite book, "American Earth:Environmental Writing Since Thoreau," which came out this spring.

Rarely do I say that you have to read a certain book or article. But really, you should if environmentalism interests you in the slightest, for the writing style, the sense of history and, of course, the content of the essays. The book is a compilation of 100 works, starting with Thoreau and ending with Paul Hawken and Rebecca Solnit in contemporary times. The essays will give you chills they are so good and, as happens with other forgotten strains of history, inform us that the fight to preserve nature didn't begin with Earth Day, though that creation by Denis Hayes introduced so many Americans to the issues and helped bring about current awareness of environmental crises.

The fight has been with us all along, sometimes shouted, sometimes whispered but always there to tell us why we need to be smarter about land use, treating nature with respect and keeping ourselves healthier in the process.

Some odd names, people you wouldn't expect to show up in an environmental collection, pop up here, offering remarkably smart observations, P.T. Barnum? Here he is, complaining about the ugliness of billboards; there's Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, writing in a dissent, arguing to give the Sierra Club standing to speak for nature; Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye and Lyndon Johnson turn up, too.

And of course, others better known for their environmentalism: Walt Whitman, Al Gore, John Steinbeck, Rachel Carson, Bill McKibben (who edited this collection), Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Dillard and Amory B. Lovins. (A couple of them showed up in Time Magazine's "Heroes of the Environment" story last year.) All contribute a fresh insight; few lecture, though if you don't like what they have to say, maybe you won't care to read it here, either. But to me, one of the most significant contributions of the collection is to show the history of the battle, often fought on an individual basis, even before most of us knew there was a fight to be joined. So we get to read what, on their own, might seem rather quixotic, people who survived the hard times of the Dust Bowl, those who worried about the carrier pigeons, and rightly so, since they are now gone, an author who imagines the voice of cockroaches, quoting ants, to warn about stupid and destructive human behavior, or offer a "Smokey the Bear Sutra," and a poem from what has to be the best place name in the United States, Haiku, Hawaii.

And the writing is lovely so if you just want to appreciate style, you'll find it here.

I'm a real fan of Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan and McKibben, among others, but the beauty of this book is that it produces works previously unknown, to me, at least. And it was in the pages of this book that I learned about Archy the cockroach, a creation of Don Marquis who was warning us about natural destruction back in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Here, from Archy, is a sampling from a report on "what the ants are saying":

It wont be long now it wont be long
man is making deserts of the earth
it wont be long now
before man will have used it up


and
america was once a paradise
of timberland and stream
but it is dying because of the greed
and money lust of a thousand little kings


(Since he's a roach, Archy can't reach the shift key on a keyboard and so doesn't do punctuation or capitals.)

This book is a joy to read, a call to action, a report on history, a demand to save what we can now, and a wake for what we have already lost. Read it for all of those things and more.

Contributing to this book are:
Al Gore
Alan Durning
Aldo Leopold
Alice Walker
Amory B. Lovins
Annie Dillard
Barbara Kingsolver
Barry Lopez
Benton MacKay
Berton Roueche
Bill McKibben
Buckminster Fuller
Calvin B. DeWitt
Carl Anthony and Renee Soule
Caroline Henderson
Cesar Chavfez
Colin Fletcher
David Abram
David Quammen
David R. Brower
Denis Hayes
Don Marquis
Donald Cultross Peattie
E.B. White
E.O. Wilson
Edward Abbey
Edwin Way Teale
Eliot Porter
Frederick Law Olmsted
Friends of the Earth
Garrett Hardin
Gary Snyder
Gene Stratton-Porter
George B. Schaller
George Catlin
George Perkins Marsh
Gifford Pinchot
Helen and Scott Nearing
Henry Beston
Henry David Thoreau
Howard Zahniser
J. Sterling Morton
J.N. Darling

Jack Turner
Jane Jacobs
Janisse Ray
John Burroughs
John McPhee
John Muir
John Steinbeck
Jonathan Schell
Joni Mitchell
Joseph Lelyveld
Julia Butterfly Hill
Kenneth E. Boulding
Leslie Marmon Silko
Lewis Thomas
Linda Hogan
Lois Gibbs
Loren Elsley
Lydia Huntley Sigourney
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lynn White Jr.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Marvin Gaye
Mary Austin
Mary Oliver
Michael Pollan
N. Scott Momaday
Nathaniel Southgate Shaler
P.T. Barnum
Paul Hawken
Paul R. Ehrlich
Philip K. Dick
R. Crumb
Rachel Carson
Rebecca Solnit
Richard Nelson
Rick Bass
Robert D. Bullard
Robert Marshall
Robinson Jeffers
Russell Baker
Sandra Steingraber
Scott Russell Sanders
Sigurd F. Olson
Stephanie Mills
Susan Fenimore Cooper
Table Rock Album
Terry Tempest Williams
Theodore Dreiser
Theodore Roosevelt
W. S. Merwin
W.H.H. Murray
Walt Whitman
Wendell Berry
Wes Jackson
William Cronon
William O. Douglas
William T. Hornaday
Woody Guthrie

1 comment:

ElderChild said...

Steve wrote: “When I talk about people buying or being sold ‘absolute crap’ I’m not only talking about the material but also about the ideological. We are ’sold’ on consumerism, the wars (Iraq), elections (the presidency), all manner of things. Unfortunately, so few people see that just because these ideas are on sale, that they don’t actually have to buy them!”

Sadly, the multitudes have sold out ;-(

The multitudes have taken the bait(ease of life), and the LIES were swallowed(believed), hook(money), line(education/religion), and sinker(technology) ;-(

This place they call the u.s. of a. is the “bait”master and they catch their “fish” in every nation of this world ;-( Yet in england, france, germany, japan, etc, in all nations of this wicked world, there are those who have become disciples of the “bait”master and they also have found other “waters” in which to catch their “fish” ;-(

And so it is that today there are multitudes in every nation under the sun have taken the bait(ease of life), and swallowed(believed) the hook(money), the line(education/religion) and the sinker(technology) ;-( Tempted, hooked, reeled in, and held captive as they but serve “time” in the prison that is this wicked world ;-(

Simply, they could not withstand the media blitz(krieg), and their “imag”ination got the best of them ;-( Some two thousand years past Truth bore witness to the fact that, “the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one”! (1John5:19) Yet, the “fish” continue to seek out that “good” place in the world, when in Truth the world today is but the product of mankind’s “imag”ination, a nowhere land, nothing but shadows ;-(

And in this wicked world, “image”s abound and are worshipped ;-(

So why receive that which is of mankind’s “imag”ination? Even when such is supposedly “free” there will always be a price to pay, for mankind’s “imag”ination is destroying and perverting Creation(land, air, water, creatures, vegetation, Light, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, etc.) ;-(

Consider the time when there were no radio’s, no tv’s, no movies, no newspapers, a time when there was no way yet “imag”ined and then manufactured, that would allow someone to publish or display the vain “imag”inations of mankind to the “masses”. Sadly those who rule in this wicked world, and who control the “media”, consider the “masses” to be but the M in E=MC(squared) ;-(

And yet today, here i am publishing(sharing) that which i hope is from the heart, The Spirit within, not the vain “imag”inations of my fleshly mind. i can but hope that which i share is from The ONE whose voice i have heard and whose Power i have experienced in The Miracles that have set me free! The ONE who revealed the lies that are of this world, it’s ‘god’, and it’s systems of religion, as i received evermore “a love of The Truth”. The ONE WHOM i know and believe is the Giver of Life, The Creator of ALL!

Father Help! and HE does…….

Do you see the little child?
Do you see then running wild?

i see their doubts and i see their fears,
i see their hurts and i see their tears.

Now could be that’s what i look to see,
Yet what i see is real to me.

Now am i alone to care and cry?
Or must i close these eyes and surely die?

Sadly, the children, or those who once were called children, today are referred to as “kids” ;-(

Sadder yet, the reference is true ;-(

Baby goats abound because their ‘parents’ fed them all sorts of “trash”, and so it is that as they grow they “eat” any and all things, no matter the dis-eases that cause them to be pill pushers, or peer pleasers, or worse yet media slaves ;-(

“Where have all the children gone?, long time pa-as-sing” ;-(

Progress? yes things are progressively getting worse and worse ;-(

The Hopi people of AZ once believed “A Simple and Spiritual Life is the only Life that will survive”.

Sadly, not long ago, it seems the last “hostile” Hopi, “hostile” meaning against “progress” so-called! The last “hostile” Hopi passed away a short time ago, and the remaining hopi, remain in name only, for they have given up and given in to “progress” ;-( Hope is there are yet hopi who still believe they will once again “see” their “True White Brother”.

And Hope IS Alive!

For Miracles do happen!

Hope is there would be those who would take heed unto The Call of The Creator and “Come Out” of this wicked world and it’s systems of religion, for they will no longer have their portion with those who are destroying and perverting Creation(land, air, water, creatures, vegetation, Light, Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Faith, etc.)!

And for those who have embraced “mother earth”?

Hope is they would also experience Oneness as they embrace Their Father, HE WHO is Creator of ALL!

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this wicked world and it’s systems of religion, for “the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one” indeed and Truth…….

Truth is never ending…….