Those who know me (or have read much of this blog) know I’m a book addict & am always recommending awesome, wonderful books.
I’m about to tell you about THE most important book I’ve ever read. Bar none. Not even any contest over this one!!
& only because ever since I read it (however many years ago now. At least 15, & likely more), it has helped me to understand EVERYTHING about life here on Planet Earth – or at least, life for us humans.
It’s called In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations, by Jerry Mander. Published by Sierra Club Books in 1992.
I’m writing this away from home, without access to my personal copy of the book itself.
Also without access to the very lengthy review I once wrote about it. I hope to lay my hands on that soon, & will post it when I can. [I never did lay my hands on that old, long review, btw. Guess it bit the dust in an old computer, now long gone. But the review I just linked to is a good one!]
Meanwhile, all I can say is, if you want to begin getting a grasp on the past 10,000 years or so of human history, & a glimmering of all the craziness that has befallen us & is now leading us (perhaps inexorably; with no crystal ball, I cannot say for sure) to our own demise as a species, I strongly suggest you read it.
I’ve talked in various blog posts about our losses ever since we abandoned the gathering/hunting ways of our ancestors. These are so huge I’m not even going to go into it here. (‘Everything is all about ME, right??’ touches on that stuff, I believe. As does A-B-C's: Re-learning Time!) ** links now dead...
Read the book!! It will help you understand human pathology (a rather vast territory, unfortunately) & all that is encompassed in that sad phrase.
No book has affected my thinking so massively, ever. Its insights are with me every single day, as I rassle endlessly with trying to figure out where we came from & why everything seems to be in such a gigantic mess here.
I made more than 20 pages of notes when I read this book. It was like reading for a university course. Then, I heard Jerry Mander speak at a Sierra Club conference in Kingston (Ontario, Canada) back in 2002. I got him to sign my book, & told him of all the pages of notes I’d made while reading it. He got quite a kick out of my considerable enthusiasm & appreciation.
It’s a big read. Absolutely fascinating, illuminating & quite brilliant. Utterly essential reading!!!!!
I can also tell you of 2 other books that cover some of the same ground.
One is Ishmael – An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn (Bantam/Turner, 1992). I think of Ishmael as a sort of “Coles’ Notes” version of Mander’s book. An easy & quick read that packs a very considerable punch of its own.
The book My Name is Chellis, & I’m in recovery from western civilization, by Chellis Glendinning (Shambhala, 1994) is also along the same lines.
These books will not give you any magical solutions to the great conundrum we now face as a species. Namely, how the hell to pull this dog’s breakfast out of the fire.
But, as with our personal lives, it's only by grasping the truth of where we've come from – the underpinnings of our personal neuroses & problems – that we can figure out how to find solutions…a way forward. Healing – or at least, partial, ongoing healing. (All three do explain that our loss of an ethic of the centrality of Nature & of connectedness (with Nature, with our fellow humans) & our march toward a reliance on technology led us badly astray. A very very long time ago, now.)
Anyway. Back to the other zillion things there are to do.
Happy New Year to all of us. Blessings to all of us.
Let’s all get off our butts in the coming year, shall we?????
p.s. If you want to really understand & grapple with the large & utterly essential concept of abandonment (& alienation), Mander's book (or either of the other 2 mentioned) will really help.
‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton