Hello again. I’m far behind on my book reviews, and yet everybody is sitting home presently due to this Virus problem. Since my goal is to provide on Mobilized a full course curriculum on how to “save” the world**, I need to get faster in offering up information. As a compromise between creating a full syllabus (and detailed reviews), and the present urgency, please accept these tiny blurbs about some very powerful and relevant books. As well, even though the libraries are closed, and even though we should all be avoiding the evil Amazon Corp. when possible, it’s still possible to get your hands on these easily. Archive.org has many available to ‘borrow’ for free, and Alibris offers cheap used books (and supplies them to you via Mom and Pop bookstores, keeping your money in good hands).
The first step in overcoming this crisis is understanding that we WILL get through this crisis. Beyond that, we can use this time to begin laying the foundation for a society that is more fair for the whole of humanity.
The following list is in fact read to be meant in the order in which they are listed. Since I do not have detailed notes ready, please contact me directly with any questions.
Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches; by Marvin Harris (Vintage). Before learning about what to do, and how to do it, spend some time UN-learning some of the myths that you have been taught already. Many are harmless, but this Social Anthropologist walks you through a bunch of ‘sacred cows’ and demolishes their status. Even better, but far more dense, is his follow-up Cannibals and Kings.
Grunch of Giants, by Bucky Fuller (Critical Path Publishing). When I talk of mythology, I mean it. We are every day swimming in a sea of lies, most of them taught to us since the day we were born. Almost all of them are well-intentioned, but are harmful none the less. Some are meant to harm us. But don’t take my word for it, let the genius scientist / architect / sailor explain it for you. He laid out his philosophy in more than 20 books, this is the shortest and most accessible to read.
Even better, if you would rather an audio book, get yourself Only Integrity is Going to Count, by Bucky Fuller (Critical Path Publishing). It is a series of long interviews with Bucky made a year before he passed away. It is, in one concise spot, his entire life philosophy, in his own words. One of my favorite bits of wisdom: his take on Sunsets and Sunrises, versus the actual reality in which the Earth is turning away (or towards) the Sun. Relative to this planet, we know the Sun isn’t moving at all. Yet we pretend otherwise for reasons that don’t actually help us, beyond some poetic notions. He explains it all very well, and then goes on to make our new understanding of this basic physics concept EVEN MORE POETIC than our current notions of watching a good sunset. It’s just brilliant, and he lays it out in about 3 minutes flat. This CD series is packed with insights like that.
All I need to know I learned from watching Star Trek, by Dave Marinaccio (Crown). Before you step out to change the world, it will help immensely if you have full confidence in yourself. This book might have a silly title, but it sure will help you to see yourself in a new way.
What do you care what other people think, by Richard Feynman (Norton). Ditto.
The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken (Harper Business). A grand-daddy of all the books on the Green and Sustainable Business movement. Still timely almost 30 years later. In 1993 he was a prophet; in 2020 we see his effects in every part of our society and economy. If you are wondering how Solar caught on, and makes more money than the Oil industry nowadays, clues can be found here. If you’re wondering how the current talk of a ‘Green New Deal’ got started, clues can be found here. There are many books on the Green movement. Start with the best of them.
The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones (Harper One). Speaking of Green economies, here is a far more recent book, written by that guy who you see on CNN every night. He’s not just a talking head. His ideas could very well save our GDP by rebuilding the nation in a better way; once this Pandemic lifts. Millions of homes, retrofitted for clean energy and better efficiency. Millions of jobs, real jobs, created for the long term. This fellow has the plan all ready to go, immediately. Read his book, then work to get him off the sidelines and back in the game.
Providence, by Daniel Quinn (Bantam). The late Daniel Quinn was a quiet philosopher, not very famous, but immensely influential. His effect was like the Velvet Underground’s on popular music – they never caught on as the Rolling Stones had done, but everyone who ever heard their stuff went out and immediately formed their own bands. Quinn’s novels and sociology books changed many people right down to their cores. And, almost every one is still in print, not least his most famous novel Ishmael which was re-published in 2018. Providence is nominally his autobiography, but he couldn’t help himself – it’s really a philosophy book and a handbook for life. With the challenges we face ahead, this kind of learning will be utterly essential.
Ok – nine books, ten of you count loosely. That’s easily a full Semester’s reading for most folk. You can do this, and I promise you, you will be awfully glad that you did. More reviews soon.
** It is worth noting that the world does not actually need to be ‘saved’. Our societies need to rebuild themselves, into a more fair model for all. If we don’t; we’ll make ourselves extinct in less than a century. But the planet itself will rebound in good time, no matter if we are here or not. So, if you want to Save The World, then please do be clear on just which parts you are trying to change. It will save you time and increase your effectiveness.