Street Librarian: Apocalypse Soon?

Publications about dismantling civilization and going feral

| July / August 2006

I'm writing these words out of doors. It's a warm spring afternoon and I sit on a log under a big old cottonwood, soft earth under my feet, in one of those urban places that pass for wild, a copse hidden to humans except for wide-ranging children and adults who know they need whatever wildness it provides.

Cardinals and chickadees sing nearby. A crow silently lands on a branch. A red squirrel scolds from on high, then comes closer and plays hide-and-seek from behind a trunk. Despite the hum of a highway nearby, I feel saner than I have all day.

'In wildness is the preservation of the world,' Thoreau foretold. A century and a half later, as humans' and other species' footing on the planet seems ever more precarious, a number of people think, write, and-more importantly-act in accord with this vision, having heeded the lessons of places such as this, a plot of land they know and love.

Derrick Jensen's new two-volume Endgame (Seven Stories Press), dedicated to Shawnee organizer/resister Tecumseh, forcefully, lovingly, despairingly, and tirelessly describes in volume one, The Problem of Civilization, how human civilization-with its global capitalism, plutocracy, and oil-based economy-is destroying planet Earth and examines in volume two, Resistance, what's to be done to take down civilization and live sustainably. Militant and provocative, Jensen looks at systems of exploitation from many angles and criticizes those who fail to act or refuse even to consider the questions 'What if those in power are murderous?' and 'What if they're not willing to listen to reason?' Jensen's assertive, aphoristic style demands reader response. ('A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper,' he writes.) Doing his best to speak for salmon and sturgeon, Jensen asks, 'What would the rivers themselves think?' He nudges readers not only to answer this and other difficult questions ('What will you do when the oil runs out?') themselves, but also to see their own complicity and act responsibly. For more information:

Chilean poet Jesus Sepulveda, now a teacher at the University of Oregon, addresses some of the same issues in his book The Garden of Peculiarities (Feral House, 2005), but in a way that is less comprehensive, more poetic, and-unfortunately-more laden with academicspeak. Like Jensen, Sepulveda draws from the wisdom of indigenous people 'who still have not been alienated from their own natures-by luck or resistance' and who 'still feel a strong connection with the earth and maintain a strong connection with their ancestors.' Like Jensen, he critiques economies based on competition and exploitation, and decries human efforts to control and dominate. While Jensen gives stark detail about how the state colonizes and oppresses, Sepulveda uses a wider brush. Like those who embrace the label anarcho-primitivist, he envisions and idealizes a time ahead when groups of humans (presumably small groups) 'live organically . . . and cultivate their own food toward the end of enjoying the liberating pleasure of a permanent carnival state.' For more information:

Green Anarchy, a Eugene, Oregon-based 'anti-civilization journal of theory and action,' has grown from a 16-page newsprint tabloid into a 76-page magazine since its Summer 2000 first issue. Reminiscent of an earlier publication, Live Wild or Die, some of it seems the verbal equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire, aimed partly at inspiring more people to sabotage pipelines, cut down light poles, liberate fur farm animals, and torch military recruiting stations. Each issue provides addresses of prisoners who have done such things. The Spring 2006 edition features brief accounts of prisoner escapes and uprisings and a dozen or so pages describing such 'ecological resistance' as spray-painting 'E.L.F' on the door of a house under construction, but also headier stuff, including excerpts from Jacques Ellul's The Technological Society (Knopf, 1964) and Stanley Diamond's In Search of the Primitive (Transaction, 1974). $18/5 issues from Box 11331, Eugene, OR 97440;

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