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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New book releases

I've been eagerly awaiting the Kahneman et al book for months. John Green's book dropped into my lap via a CBS Morning news segment with the author this morning. They were both released this morning.
Reading away. Both are killer reads thus far. Stay tuned. 


The John Green book jumped the queue. Marvelous writing. But only ever-so-tangentially and infrequently about the "Anthropocene."
I can’t remember when I first came across the word Anthropocene, but it must have been around 2002. The Anthropocene is a proposed term for the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. Nothing is more human than aggrandizing humans, but we are a hugely powerful force on Earth in the twenty-first century... This book started out as a podcast, where I tried to chart some of the contradictions of human life as I experience it—how we can be so compassionate and so cruel, so persistent and so quick to despair. Above all, I wanted to understand the contradiction of human power: We are at once far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough. We are powerful enough to radically reshape Earth’s climate and biodiversity, but not powerful enough to choose how we reshape them. We are so powerful that we have escaped our planet’s atmosphere. But we are not powerful enough to save those we love from suffering. I also wanted to write about some of the places where my small life runs into the large forces of the Anthropocene. In early 2020, after two years of writing the podcast, an exceptionally large force appeared in the form of a novel coronavirus. I began then to write about the only thing I could write about. Amid the crisis—and writing to you from April of 2021, I am still amid it—I find much to fear and lament. But I also see humans working together to share and distribute what we collectively learn, and I see people working together to care for the sick and vulnerable. Even separated, we are bound up in each other. As Sarah told me, there are no observers; only participants. Green, John. The Anthropocene Reviewed (pp. 4-7). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. “I smell the wound and it smells like me,” Terry Tempest Williams writes in Erosion. I live in a wounded world, and I know I am the wound: Earth destroying Earth with Earth. What does it mean to live in a world where you have the power to end species by the thousands, but you can also be brought to your knees, or to your end, by a single strand of RNA? I have tried here to map some of the places where my little life brushes up against the big forces shaping contemporary human experience, but the only conclusion I can draw is a simple one: We are so small, and so frail, so gloriously and terrifyingly temporary. When I think of how I have enjoyed the Anthropocene so far, I think of Robert Frost, who wrote, “Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting.” So it is with poems, and so it is with us. Like ice on a hot stove, we must ride on a melting Earth, all the while knowing who is melting it. A species that has only ever found its way to more must now find its way to less... (p. 273)
Bit of a clickbait book title? Quite worthy nonetheless. Elegant writing, candid, thoughtful revelations.


Just finished it. Fabulous. It will deserve its own post.

apropos of the "anthropocene."

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