Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

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By Levi Asher on Monday, April 21, 2008 10:50 pm
1. I don't usually pay attention to "Earth Day" any more than to "National Poetry Month", but that doesn't mean I can't call attention to an impressive book that's hitting the stores on this day, Tuesday, April 22.


American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau by Bill McKibben is a substantial, eclectic anthology of original texts by many American writers concerned with ecology or nature: John Muir, Frederick Law Olmsted, Theodore Roosevelt, John Burroughs, Theodore Dreiser, Robinson Jeffers, John Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie, E. B. White, Jane Jacobs, Rachel Carson, Russell Baker, Lyndon B. Johnson (? !), Edward Abbey, Philip K. Dick, R. Buckminster Fuller, Gary Snyder, Stephanie Mills, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, John McFee, Annie Dillard, Robert Crumb (the great "Main Street America" series), Jonathan Schell, Al Gore and Barbara Kingsolver. No sign of Richard Gere. But McKibben has put together a powerful collection, and of course I agree with McKibben that it all starts back at the pond with my own favorite writer, you know who.

My only slight quibble is the packaging, the $40 price tag and shiny decorative slip cover. Shouldn't an ecology book avoid slick slipcovers? But what do I know. McKibben did a great job, and this book would make a good gift to anybody who'd like to try a different kind of reading.

2. I really like the new design at the Syntax of Things blog. The background graphic gives new meaning to the phrase "scroll down".*

3. Activist, author and former President Jimmy Carter gets nothing but ridicule and polite disinterest in the American press as he tries to walk the lonely road for Israeli/Palestinian peace. Carter is getting flak for talking with Hamas, but we need more dialogue, not less, between warring parties. This is called "peacemaking". What a concept.

I think Jimmy Carter deserves more respect than he generally gets. When will journalists and bloggers stop making "cranky old peanut farmer" jokes and realize that our crusty ex-President is actually some kind of saint? Seriously, folks -- seriously. It's called "peacemaking", and I don't see anybody else out there working up a sweat.

4. Harold Augenbraum at ComicCon (via Soft Skull)

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* = if you don't get this joke, for dummies.
3 Responses to "Scroll Down"

by Jim H. on

What you said about Jimmy Carter is so right! It's nice to hear it coming from north of the Mason-Dixon line, too. A number of my friends when I lived in the Big Apple got it, as well

by Steve Plonk on

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes." -- Fred Rogers, TV host.

“A vision of our relationship to the natural world and our responsibility to care for it was part of what inspired the late Gaylord Nelson to create Earth Day in 1970. On the original Earth Day (April 22, 1970) Nelson said that “the battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment…will require a long, sustained, political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment.” -- William H. Meadows, Wilderness Society President, as quoted in the Spring 2008 Newsletter.

In addition, Thoreau wrote that “In wildness is the preservation of the world”. Preservation of the world’s environment is up to us. Anybody can step up their support of Earth Day every day by becoming an on-line activist. It’s easy, effective and free. One way is to become a member of the Wilderness Society and, for a small gift, support the preservation of forests and other wild places.

I voted for Carter in the 70s. I saw him speak in the 90s. He is one of my heros. Nuff said.