The Resurgence of the Real: Body, Nature and Place in Hypermodern World

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The closing years of this century find Americans skeptical of modern institutions—the political system, the gloablized economy, the public schools—and their abilities to solve the most basic problems of our time. Amid the rising tide of discontent, the public debates—including the ”culture wars”—seem to be a mere spinning of wheels.In a penetrating analysis of our times, Charlene Spretnak asserts that both the liberal and conservative sides in those debates are situated in the very orientation that created the ...

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Overview

The closing years of this century find Americans skeptical of modern institutions—the political system, the gloablized economy, the public schools—and their abilities to solve the most basic problems of our time. Amid the rising tide of discontent, the public debates—including the ”culture wars”—seem to be a mere spinning of wheels.In a penetrating analysis of our times, Charlene Spretnak asserts that both the liberal and conservative sides in those debates are situated in the very orientation that created the modern crisis: the mechanistic worldview with Homo economicus at the center. The grand claims of modernity no longer inspire confidence because its destructive effects seem to be multiplying. The author, an influential public intellectual, speaks poignantly to our growing sense of what has been lost and what is slipping away.Yet Charlene Spretnak argues persuasively that the intensification of the modern crises is not inevitable and is already being challenged by an impressive network of corrective efforts. The new acceptance of holistic medicine (forced by the healthcare crisis, the new understandings in science of nature’s powers of dynamic creativity and self-organization, the new political opposition of community-based activists to the forces of globalization, and the new surge of independence efforts by ancient nations that have been devoured by modern states—all are part of an emergent value system that counters the modern conception of liberty as a flight from body, nature and place.After identifying ”epochal rumblings” embedded in the nightly news in the 1990s, Charlene Spretnak illuminates the sources of the modern condition with exceptional clarity. Moreover, she reframes ”the other history” of the modern era: the ecospiritual lineage of movements that resisted the corrosive effects of the industrialized modern world. These include the Arts and Crafts movement, the cosmological schools of painting, the stream of Modernist writers and artists who did not embrace the ”machine aesthetic” after World War One, and Gandhi’s ”Constructive Program.” The grassroots movements today that are forging a new politics of local and regional revitalization beyond left-and-right are heir to a rich tradition, to which the author brings original interpretations.Finally, Charlene Spretnak concludes her wideranging exploration with an engaging story of an American heartland city in the near future that has largely decoupled from the destructive dynamics of the globalized economy and initiated a range of pragmatic alternatives in its region.Both a sharp critique and a graceful performance of the art of the possible, The Resurgence of the Real changes the way we thing about living in the modern world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
In her far-ranging, in-depth study of the structure of contemporary alienation, Spretnak (The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics) joins the ranks of gifted writers qua intellectual social analysts like Lewis Mumford. Economics, politics, history, sociology, aesthetics and psychology are brought to bear in support of her thesis: that finally, after four centuries of mind-body duality and mechanistic, scientific domination of Western culture, small, local grass-roots organizations are leading the way back to spiritually integrated wholeness for humanity. In this vision, the author develops a schema of social criticism that moves from the modern through the deconstructionist postmodern into the ecological postmodern era. In the latter phase, there is hope for a return to humanity. Examining today's unresolved nationalistic struggles such as in Bosnia and Serbia, citing poets, artists, composers and thinkers, Spretnak constructs her vision of modern reality. Some conservative skeptics may disagree with the author's interpretation of cultural history and human nature, but it cannot be discounted as an immature romantic, anti-technological, New Age-Luddite screed. Although much of the material studied is dense, Spretnak keeps her treatment lively, accessible and challenging.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201534191
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/15/1997
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 0.99 (d)

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