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Listening to the Land: Conversations about Nature, Culture and Eros Paperback – March 1, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Here is a book of desperate wisdoms for anyone who has considered our human future and wondered, How must we live?"--Louise Erdrich, author of Love Medicine

From the Publisher

"This is a book of desperate wisdoms for anyone who has considered our human future and wondered how must we live?"--Louis Erdrich


"A wonderful polyphonic texture of wise and thoughtful voices--rich in new understandings of our present peril and new perspectives on a livable future."--Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; First Edition edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931498563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931498562
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is comprised of interviews Derrick Jensen had with a diverse group of people that he saw as searching for answers to the question of why modern society was propagating a pervasive ecological destruction of the earth, and if there are ways to live more peacefully with the natural world. The interviewees include anthropologists, psychologists, theologians, and indigenous philosophers. Jensen uses the dialogue form instead of a single-voice narrative "in the hope the reader would experience the story for what it is - a communal effort at working through some of the greatest and most difficult questions ever faced by human beings." This dialogue form was at first distracting, since it lacked the tight organizational structure of written discourse and the argumentative authority of the single-voiced narrative. But as I became more accustomed to the dialogue style I saw that its weaknesses were also its strength. The personality and subjective aspect of the interviewer and the interviewees came to the forefront showing how that which was being discussed was shaped and colored by each of them and the interaction between them. This non-detached orientation helped to make the discussion about human/nature interaction more intersubjective, or less about something out there and more about something constructed by participating subjects in the drama of life. In terms of the interviewer, Jensen was trained in mineral engineering physics in the early 1980's but soon found himself miserable in his "not-too-meaningless", middle class technical job. His quest to find "other models for happiness" (page 2) is apparent in his interviewing style that maintains an intimate personal quality even while discussing abstract theoretical points.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
If there were any justice in the world, Derrick Jensen's book, "Listening to the Land, " would be a best seller, the hot book being read and talked about by just about everyone. In such a world, what would - just for example - President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other "drill, cut and burn" true believers think of this book? One guess? They'd probably arrest Jensen under the USA Patriot Act and have the book burned on a pile of old-growth firewood! How about all these big-shot CEOs now on their way to jail (hopefully) for corporate wrongdoing? They'd probably try to figure out how to coopt Jensen into their corporate advertising about how "green" they are! Don't forget the Catholic Church bishops, who shuffled pedophile priests around and protected them from any reprimand over the years; they'd probably say that Jensen and his friends are all just a bunch of nature-worshipping atheist witches! And let's not let good ol' average "middle Americans" off the hook either, since it's their consumption and waste (which apparently knows no bounds), their actions, and their apathy, which allow a few powerful people, companies, and governments to trash the planet, the poor, and the vulnerable (both human and non-human) for their own power and profit.
Unfortunately, in this far-from-just world of ours, most people -certainly not our political or corporate leaders -- have never even HEARD of Derrick Jensen, let alone read "Listening to the Land." And, also unfortunately, most of these people would probably just dismiss Derrick Jensen and friends as a bunch of "tree-hugging, left-wing, anti-establishment nutcases.
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This book by Derrick Jensen was moving and inspiring. It presented a wide variety of viewpoints on environmental topics in a very personal dialogue format. This approach worked to reach the heart as well as the head. I found every section interesting and had a difficult time putting the book down.

This title is also informative and presents a full spectrum of opinions in original form from the mouths of the speakers who represent -- environmentalists, theologians, Native Americans, psychologists and feminists. In addition to reaching the heart, the material stimulates deep inquiry on the part of the reader. It is not in anyway superficial, quite the contrary!

The organizing principle of the book is the theme of loving the land and living in harmony with it. A thread that pervades every section is finding peaceful ways to live in harmony with the environment. It does not look to assign blame, but rather to seek peaceful solutions to the increasingly complex environmental problems that are plaguing all of us on the planet.

In my opinion, this is a must read for anyone interested in the environment or in reestablishing a deep connection to the land. If I could rate it a six I would. I got more from this book than I ever expected and have shared it with many people. I wish every voter and person having anything to do with making public policy read it, preferably on a camping trip.
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Format: Paperback
Kudos to Derrick Jensen for coming up with the idea for this unique book. This is a very insightful and diverse collection of conversations with a variety of environmentally minded thinkers. These are structured as loose dialogues in which each thinker's ideas come to the fore. Not all of these discussions are strictly environmentalist (in the basic definition of the term), but all explore humanity's important connection with the Earth in myriad fashions. The discussions are very loosely arranged by discipline; with ecology, science, politics, economics, sociology, anthropology, and finally art and philosophy appearing as the book progresses.
This ordering of different disciplines leads to a few problems in flow. The book gets off to a rocky start with essays in hard ecology from activists, especially Christopher Manes, who can't accept the fact that humans are (at least temporarily) stuck in a non-ecological society. In the book's later stages things really slow down with poorly developed philosophies and quaint PC-isms. A low point is the scatterbrained mysticism/communitarianism of Dolores LaChapelle and Julien Puzey, while the environmental bookbinding art of Sandra Lopez is rather neat but too esoteric to be of much use.
But the day is more than saved overall by the powerful remainder of the book, in which the really articulate thinkers make their mark. Good examples are the musings on technology by Jerry Mander, the population economics of William R. Catton Jr., and the cultural analysis of Frederick Turner. A good side effect of this book is the attention it brings to the many under-appreciated and valuable books by these thinkers. And in every interview, Jensen does a marvelous job of acting less like an interviewer and more like a facilitator. He provides sharp comments and leading questions in an efficient manner, allowing each thinker to give their philosophy in ways that provide maximum insight to the Earth-connected reader.
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