- Series: City Lights Open Media
- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: City Lights Publishers; First Edition edition (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0872866696
- ISBN-13: 978-0872866690
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization (City Lights Open Media) Paperback – October 6, 2015
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More praise for Learning to Die in the Anthropocene:
"Roy Scranton gets it. He knows in his bones that this civilization is over. He knows it is high time to start again the human dance of making some other way to live. In his distinctive and original way he works though a common cultural inheritance, making it something fresh and new for these all too interesting times. This compressed, essential text offers both uncomfortable truths and unexpected joy."--McKenzie Wark, author of Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene
"We're f*cked. We know it. Kind of. But Roy Scranton in this blistering new book goes down to the darkness, looks hard and doesn't blink. He even brings back a few, hard-earned slivers of light. . . . What is philosophy? It's time comprehended in thought. This is our time and Roy Scranton has had the courage to think it in prose that sometimes feels more like bullets than bullet points."--Simon Critchley, Co-founder and moderator of The New York Times online philosophy series "The Stone"
"An eloquent, ambitious, and provocative book."--Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
"Roy Scranton has written a howl for the Anthropocene--a book full of passion, fire, science and wisdom. It cuts deeper than anything that has yet been written on the subject."--Dale Jamieson, author of Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed--And What It Means For Our Future
"As a motivator, the concept Life hasn't been working out so great, hardwired as it is into the post-Neolithic drive to exist no matter what the quality of that existence. Life won't help you to live. Including ecological awareness in our political decisions means including as much death in as many different modes (psychic, philosophical, social) as we can manage. Roy Scranton has written an essential recipe book for adding some death to the bland, oppressive and ecologically disastrous human cake."--Timothy Morton, author of Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics
"In the brief but crowded pages of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, Iraq War veteran, Roy Scranton, wields both history and philosophy as forensic tools. With the unblinking eyes of a medical examiner, he systematically reveals the causes, trajectory and outcome of our planetary domination and its subsequent climate crisis. Slicing away obscuring adipose tissue of romanticism on the left and denial on the right, he pinpoints the source of the corpse's demise."--Jose Knighton, Weller Book Works' Newsletter
"Scranton has always been a few steps ahead of other veteran-authors. . . . Learning to Die in the Anthropocene casts a beautiful allure."--Peter Molin, Time Now
"Scranton’s book has its own kind of power. . . . There is something cathartic about his refusal to shy away from the full scope of our predicament."--Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, The Los Angeles Review of Books
"This is a small book with big ideas from an Army veteran who views the flooding after Hurricane Katrina and sees 'the same chaos and collapse I’d seen in Baghdad.' Scranton brings meaning and humor to the mayhem."--J. Ford Huffman, The Military Times
"With clarity and conviction, Scranton explores the global failure to address the climate crisis and the possibility that the planet could become uninhabitable. Referring to classic texts as far back as The Epic of Gilgamesh, he urges readers to face their fear of death and find guidance in literature as they prepare for and adapt to the future. The book is an unapologetic punch in the gut, likely to leave many readers gasping. Scranton does offer a kind of hope: By making tough accommodations and reconnecting with our core humanity, we may eventually be able to recover our collective breath."--Michael Berry, Sierra Magazine
" . . . Scranton’s book is a very well researched investigation into our troubled future. Scranton doesn’t sugar coat his findings, 'We are f*cked' as he so bluntly puts it. And indeed with the rise in global temperatures set to soar in the next fifty years bringing with it melting ice caps, rising seas, a toxic cocktail of carbon dioxide and methane that has remained locked in the permafrost for centuries, no argument can be made against Scranton’s statement."--Stephen Lee Naish, Hong Kong Review of Books
About the Author
A war veteran, journalist, and author, Roy Scranton has published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Boston Review, and Theory and Event, and has been interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air, among other media.
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If you're into Scranton's question, this book offers some novel thoughts and some new/compelling ways of summarizing old thoughts/history, but don't expect to be blown away. He does a good job formulating his question and using credible sources to describe the scientific and political context. And I think the points he makes about the humanities are salient.
But I think he says too little about what the humanities can do for us. The type of person most likely to buy a book with "Anthropocene" in the title already knows much of what he says about climate science, policy, and current social ills. You'd think he'd balance that with an equal amount of attention to what he views as the positive/productive promise/power/role of the humanities. Sometimes (like in Chapter Four) he does single out aspects of "the problem" that are seldom addressed and addresses them in fresh ways. But still, he spends more time describing the problem than answering his question, which is underwhelming since it's by answering his question that we can learn to die in the Anthropocene. The answer is there, but he could've done more with it, even in a volume as short as his.
It's a good book, though. And the endnotes and bibliography are very useful.
Three last critiques: first, his use of the word "anarchy" early in the book shows he doesn't know what anarchism is. Second, he doesn't address capitalism's role in this mess, a subject better dealt with in Naomi Kline's "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate" and Jason W. Moore's "Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism." Third: the book is disjointed -- it jumps around a bit.
Scranton seems to be more than capable of picking up the mantle of the younger generation's John Raulston Saul: a moralist interested in providing an unvarnished, big picture understanding of WHY and HOW we find ourselves in such a dark place. Yet it's the hopeful tone throughout which makes this exceptional. There are plenty of books out there which will explain to you the myriad reasons why the world is going to s***. You can see it in our fantasies, too--from the general dystopia bent in popular fiction to the kill-everyone-and-everything zombie fetish that won't seem to go away. But Roy is very clear: s*** sucks, but we are not hopeless. The battle is the same battle its always been; the forces of consolidated greed, violence, and everything dark against the light of wisdom, hope, and love. For as hard as it seems and as dark as it gets, we, the people of the light, can't give up. Roy Scranton knows that and so should you.