A Language Older than Wordsby Derrick Jensen
At once a beautifully poetic memoir and an exploration of the various ways we live in the world, A Language Older Than Words explains violence as a pathology that touches every aspect of our lives and indeed affects all aspects of life on Earth. This chronicle of a young man's drive to transcend domestic abuse offers a challenging look at our worldwide sense of community and how we can make things better.
"Singular, compelling and courageously honest, this book is more than just a poignant memoir of a harrowingly abusive childhood. It relates the extraordinary journey of one man striving to save his own spirit and our planet's . . . His visceral, biting observations always manage to lead back to his mantra: 'Things don't have to be the way they are.'"--Publishers Weekly
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Meet the Author
Derrick Jensen is the prize-winning author of A Language Older than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, Listening to the Land, Strangely Like War, Welcome to the Machine, and Walking on Water. He was one of two finalists for the 2003 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, which cited The Culture of Make Believe as "a passionate and provocative meditation on the nexus of racism, genocide, environmental destruction and corporate malfeasance, where civilization meets its discontents." He writes for The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and The Sun Magazine among many others. He is an environmental activist and lives on the coast of northern California.
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¿Every morning I wake up and ask myself whether I should write a book or blow up a dam,¿ writes Jensen in his opening pages. ¿Every day I tell myself I should continue to write. Yet I¿m not always convinced I¿m making the right decision.¿ This is the agony of an environmentalist and a pacifist who has come to realize that he¿s been throwing snowballs at army tanks. While he debates and negotiates with the polluters, the developers and the industrialists, they continue their destructive activities virtually unimpeded. How long, wonders Jensen, can we afford to go on being pacifists? ¿Scientists study, politicians and businesspeople lie and delay, activists write letters and press releases, I write books and articles, and still the salmon die. It¿s a cozy relationship for all of us except the salmon.¿ Jensen, whether he realizes it or not, is the philosopher-king of the deep ecology movement. In this provocative and insightful book, he shows us that deep ecology is truly deep, not the shallow feel-good wishful thinking of the New Agers who too often represent the movement. Drawing on personal experience, anecdotal evidence, historical examples, and philosophical thought from the early sophists to Descartes, Jensen helps his readers peer over the tops of our cultural eyeglasses. He invites us to gaze at the world unfiltered by our shared myths and illusions about human progress. The earth is dying. We are the cause. We can stop it, but first we will have to begin talking about some subjects we¿ve all agreed never to talk about. One of Jensen¿s most effective tools is the use of his personal experience as an abused child as both a metaphor and an object lesson on the process we all go through in order to distance ourselves from the pain we endure and the damage we do simply by living in a ¿civilized¿ industrial society. Yet Jensen manages to open our eyes without using a pry bar. With self-deprecating humor, he chats with us in the amiable tones of an old friend sharing a beer on the back porch. This is powerful stuff delivered in an affable package. Highly recommended reading. So dangerous it could change your life¿and maybe even your behavior.
This is one of those books that change your life, and your vision of the world is never the same as before reading it. Jensen manages to look at an amazing array of topics, from our consumer culture to dysfunctional family dynamics and see them all as the result of lack of truth in our vision, in the stories we tell ourselves. If you care about the earth, the trees and the creatures, this book is a must read. It caused me to feel a connection to the natural world that, I for one, never felt before reading it, and to take action to do what I can to preserve what I can. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's tough reading becase of the radical honesty he lives, but this is a book I wish I had enough money to buy for everyone I know and love.
There are no easy answers to the social and environmental problems of our generation. Instead of facing the sick culture we have created and the effect it is having on the natural world, we too often fall silent and choose to deny that we are all involved - directly or indirectly - in the destruction. Our society has made it easy for us to tune it out. But this silence is what is killing our planet. Read this book, think about what its message implies for all of us, and most of all - talk about it!
In the midst of a pile of papers and books I need to be reading for Graduate School, I couldn't put this book down - It is life changing. 'What you value is what you create' -Now there's something to think about. When you're done thinking about that, step back and take a look at our culture - remember that quote...if this doesn't scare you, take a look around, you may need to get reconnected to Mother Earth and her gifts. Jensen will take you on a journey that will change the way you view your life and your place in it. It will not be an easy journey, and parts of it will haunt you daily, but all of it is important to be aware of...these things happen, these things exist, and the Earth and her inhabitants are crying out to be heard.