Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Reading Meme

Contagion once again sweeps the geoblogs, this time in the form of a Summer Reading Meme; the original infection spread quickly from Suvrat to Brian, and currently threatens the whole of the Developed World. NOW DO YOU SEE THE DANGER OF THE ANTI-VACCINATION CROWD!?!

Anyway, I've obviously succumbed to the hellish meme-fever myself, 'cause here's my summer readin' list:

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West, by Wallace Stegner, followed closely by:

A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell, by Donald Worster; I'm still on my Powell kick from LAST summer out in the Green River, and these two books are pretty much the definitive scholarly examinations of Powell's life, career, and his subsequent impact.

Bigfoot: The Life And Times of A Legend by Joshua Blu Buhs; I wrote about this one here, and from what I've heard, it's gonna be a pretty rad book, examining the myth of Bigfoot, the people who "study" it, and the role that the Big Hairy Ape plays in gender-class-race dynamics. Neato!

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, edited by Otto Penzler: I've always loved the pulpy goodness of 20's, 30's and 40's magazine fiction, and this collection has 1100+ pages of Detective fiction from the pulps!

Now go wash your hands and drink some Orange Juice, lest ye be infected by the Meme!


Silver Fox said...

The Wallace Stegner book on John Wesley Powell sounds interesting. I mean to read more of Stegner's books, beyond "Angle of Repose" - so need to add them to a list somewhere. I know: I'll post a sticky note on my wall!

David B. Williams said...

If you want a classic Stegner or two, I can recommend Big Rock Candy Mountain, basically a retelling of his life, and Wolf Willow, part essay, part story. And if you are a hard core Stegner fan, track down A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West, which is the book Angle of Repose is based on.
David said...

Try a new meme, one that calls out for sustainable farming practices.

If the leaders of the global political economy continue to recklessly expand the large-scale production of food to feed an already rapidly growing population, then absolute global human population numbers will continue to skyrocket as they are now. The relentless effort to increase the world's food supply appears to be a primary precipitant of a global human population explosion. A billion people are hungry on Earth in our time. More poor people live in our planetary home today than existed on Earth in the year of my birth.

Why not end large-scale agricultural production and everywhere encourage an increase in sustainable farming practices? Why not fairly and equitably distribute the world's abundant food harvests so that the starving can fed? We have hundreds of millions of people who are starving as well as many too many millions of people who suffer from the ravages of gluttony. The human family could move toward more healthful living standards for all by redistributing available food resources.

The family of humanity is going to have to stop sleepwalking through life and immediately awaken, however difficult that may be, to the human-driven global challenges threatening human wellbeing and environmental health in our time.

Perhaps necessary change is in the offing because its occurrence must come soon.

Otherwise, I fear, the human community could reap the Biblical whirlwind, a storm blast of epic proportions, that gives rise to some kind of unimaginably huge and destructive global ecological wreckage.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
established 2001 said...

A colossal failure to speak truth to power is allowing the most greedy among us to ruin Earth's environment and deplete its resources.

If only the human community could become as deeply curious and openly communicative about what the human species is doing in the world we inhabit as we are about the deceitful activities of wealthy and powerful people. Formidable human-induced global threats to human wellbeing and environmental health are just as evident as the conspicuous behaviors of the most greedy among us. To be a species with such remarkable self-consciousness, intelligence and other splendid gifts and to do no better than we are doing now is a source of deep sadness and occasional outbreaks of passionate intensity (likely signifying nothing).

Still I believe in remaining engaged in this worthwhile struggle, one in which so many human beings with feet of clay have been involved for a lifetime. For me, the first fifty years of life were lived, as you might imagine, as if in a dream world, the one devised by the greed-mongering Masters of the Universe among us. I had no awareness that a single adamant generation, claiming to be doing God's work, of all things, would irreversibly degrade Earth's environs, recklessly dissipate its limited resources, relentlessly diminish its biodiversity, destabilize its climate and threaten the very future of children everywhere.

At least we can speak out loudly, clearly and often about these unfortunate greed-driven circumstances, even though they are discomforting and unwelcome, and in the process educate one another. Like many in the Grist community have already reported, I do not have answers to forbidding questions related to the patently unsustainable 'trajectory' of human civilization in its present, colossally expansive form; but it seems our conscious denial of, and willful refusal to openly acknowledge, "what could somehow be real" means that the requirements of practical "reality" cannot be reasonably addressed and sensibly overcome. A colossal ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort is likely to be the end result of our abject failure, I suppose, to respond courageously and ably to the looming global challenges that appear to have emerged robustly and converged rapidly in our time.