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Saving The Indigenous Soul

2009-12-27 15:15:04.666326+00 by Chris 8 comments

Very heavy stuff, I think that there is a lot of truth to what this man says.


comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-27 18:41:34.797621+00 by: brennen [edit history]

This piece does very little to disabuse me of my earlier impression that Derrick Jensen is (while a fairly smart guy) full of shit.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-28 16:46:25.753311+00 by: ebradway

Brennen, your post does little to disabuse me of my earlier impression that you are full of shit.

That is, please elaborate or at least link to something where you elaborate on why you think Jensen is full of shit. In this particular article, Jensen is simply questioning Martin Pretchel. I can't see how his questioning could disabuse anyone of anything.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-28 17:40:57.725468+00 by: Chris

ebradway, I must thank you for jumping in. I thought the article and the premises he was explaining were fascinating, it aint like our shit works any better, and their culture seems much more grounded in tradition and values, who is to say they aren't on to it?

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-28 23:46:01.802489+00 by: brennen

Re: Jensen being full of shit, I sketched out brief responses to a couple of his books a while back, here and here. I do think he has some valid stuff to say, particularly when he talks about education, and I suppose culturally we're at least halfway to being on the same side, but it's buried in a certain quantity of anti-science, anti-intellectual primitivist ideological sludge.

Apologies for my original tone; I have a fairly visceral reaction to a lot of this stuff, especially after a couple of years in Boulder. I'm also kind of tired of white lefty activist appropriation of various indigenous and quasi-indigenous motifs, for which this certainly looks like more fuel.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-29 00:55:12.431303+00 by: Chris

but you have to separate the bullshit that is tinged and skewed by a writers preconceptions, prejudices and a fixed/set approach, which is part of an individuals programming.......all their previous life, experiences, ect, all the baggage we all bring to the table. Very few are capable of complete objectivity. But, it's cool, maybe a bit of fire and firm well-founded opinions are what makes a forum lively, your opinions are obviously based upon a much broader range of knowledge of this guy, I just happened upon the article, had never heard of him. I have spent serious time in Asia, and for a little white boy who grew up in Central Illinois, it was a changing experience, and in a way, his writing took me back to some moments that were absolutely magical.

#Comment Creating the Crisis made: 2009-12-29 03:48:07.448389+00 by: palewhale [edit history]

Near the end of the interview, Prechtel is quoted as saying: "In some ways, crises bring communities together....Mayans don’t wait for a crisis to occur; they make a crisis."

Somehow this last sentence reminds me of some dysfunctional families & relationships, even in the presumably industrialized science-conquered hateful nasty Western Culture.

Some people (consciously or not) try to assuage their own emotional needs or insecurities, control other people, and set the agenda for everyone by 'making a crisis.' If your social group also has a *real* problem that requires sufficient attention, whether it be a decline in Greenland's ability to support a 'non-skraeling' lifestyle, or a real need for a member of the relationship to go out and work a real job responsibly, or maybe even just needing a sane lifestyle and respect for the retention of basic mental health, the interference of artificial crises can hurt or kill you.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-29 05:11:12.10914+00 by: brennen

Chris - Thanks for the levelheaded response. That's almost certainly more than my rudeness on the matter warranted.

I do think Jensen is a talented writer, and I certainly share a lot of ground with him and people like him, but I suppose that's exactly what has left me frustrated with his work in the past. I'm in sympathy with a bunch of "radical" perspectives on (and criticisms of) this civilization in general, and even where I'm not, I think a lot of them are worth some thought. John Zerzan's intellectual career, for example, is somewhere between lunacy and a pretty good running joke, but I guess I'm kind of glad that somebody is out there declaiming that more or less everything the species has done since slightly before evolving language has been a terrible mistake. I'd just rather, for the most part, that smart, potentially serious people who I would like to view as allies in the big scheme of things not be spending their time on stuff like explaining that the entire hard-won conceptual framework of science is literally a mental illness. It's not as if, for example, the intellectual leading lights of the fundamentalist evangelical Christianity so common in the Nebraska farming community where I grew up aren't working overtime to drill that kind of thinking into people's heads. I'd rather leave it to them.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-12-29 23:16:20.83062+00 by: ebradway

As a PhD student in the Geography Department at CU-Boulder, I can feel where you are coming from. I have learned to talk the post-modern talk - but in the end common-sense really prevails. The grant money for post-modern studies is really pretty minor compared to studies grounded in logical positivism.

I was in England recently visiting folks at the Ordnance Survey. If there's ever been a target of the lefty-post-modernists, it's the OS. Originally the OS made maps that guided the empirical aspirations of the British Empire. As their name suggests, they used to make maps specifically to determine where and what to shoot. Once the British military were done with the shooting, the OS would come in and map everything. Or at least, everything that mattered to the Brits. To heck with the natives. Nowadays, the OS focuses on making money selling spatial data collected largely on tax payers' dime. The whole OpenStreetMap initiative arose in tension with the OS.

It was interesting drinking beers with the OS folks - and the English in general. They are fully aware that their ancestors destroyed culture after culture. They have, somehow, come to terms with their demons (ghosts). And maybe Pretchel's right about his ghosts... The Brits are generally quite happy despite being aware of their place in history.