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Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization Paperback – April 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Within no time, I was down in Eugene, Oregon, walking through the infamous Whitaker district, known for it's vagrants and black-block anarchists, searching for Zerzan's co-op.
After spotting him on the porch, he greated me and invited me into his small, box-shaped house. Asside from a desk and a giant bookcase filled to the brim with old ragtag books and zines, his little house was empty and austere.
Sitting on an old, cleary-secondhand softa, we talked for over an hour about anarchism, ecology, history, technology, society, permaculture, natural farming and ecovillages. Then we took a walk to a local, independent coffee house to chat some more.
What struck me about Zerzan was his humility, patience, kindness, and penchent for critical thought. I mentioned my suprise that he had a telephone, and he agreed, in an ideal world one would not need a telephone. But, he said, he does not have a watch, or any of the other things that weigh us down and distract more than they help. Despite his revolutionary prose, I realized that a certain degree of compromise must be made for those who wish to stay inside civil society and reform it.
Sure, one could pack up and go live in a commune, but how would that help? The global economy would still spin out of control, and people would continue to live in ways that destroy the planet.Read more ›
"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees of things through narrow chinks of his cavern" (William Blake)
What made this book hard reading for me was its steady tone of blaming: technocrats are idiots, compromisers are cowards, etc. Unfortunately, this judgmental tone, with us since the admirable Muir and perhaps before, is one of the least effective things about anarchistic OR ecological thought. A good example is the author's letter to Marvin Minsky, whom he calls "vermin" and to whom he delivers several other personal insults. This kind of rhetoric precludes all chance at dialog and makes one look to those still on the fence like a well-schooled loudmouth. (I find Minsky's thoughts about the fusion of machine with human downright frightening, extraordinarily arrogant, even apocalyptic....but I've never met the man and would not presume to call him any names until I did....)
By all means let us launch uncompromising and openly outraged attacks on the denial that excuses behaviors and attitudes that clearly harm self, community, and world--but can't we do it without all the self-defeating shaming, finger-pointing, and personal attacks that make us sound more petulant than earnest in our concerns?
Anarcho-primitivism may not have the most useful prescriptive program, but its descriptive power is unparalleled. The anarcho-primitvist goal is certainly utopian, but that is a good thing. Without utopian goals, we can have no transcendent position from which to challenge the present order. The intermediate mechanisms of change, through which we must work toward the utopian anarcho-primitivist future, should be the true program of liberalism. The left has condemned itself to irrelevancy by ignoring its utopian strand in favor of technical tinkering. We must recover our utopian roots in order to bear anarcho-primitivist fruit.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Zerzan attempts a philosophy of anarchism which he defines as an end to all forms of domination. This is an interesting book which might appear learned and deep but is really a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Hande Z
Much of it is unreadable, puts me into a stupor. Some of the readable parts, especially the historical perspectives, are enlightening.Published on December 2, 2013 by R S Jennings
John Zerzan's book Running on Emptiness was my introduction to the anarcho-primitivist mindset. I admire the critique and personally find the return to the feral and primitive, or... Read morePublished on November 30, 2012 by Kindle Customer
The essays, particularly the earlier ones, read like a catalog of Zerzan's current reading. In one paragraph you may find Hartcollis noting, Korzybski noting, Arlow according,... Read morePublished on February 25, 2012 by R. Bowman
i left this book with a feeling of disappointment. the author doesn't seem to understand that for extraordinary claims, you need extraordinary evidence. Read morePublished on October 24, 2011 by Jesus H. Christ
This was my first Zerzan book. I gave it a 4 because I didn't feel qualified to call it perfect. I won't call myself a raving-fan of him, won't be a fan of anyone, but his... Read morePublished on September 7, 2010 by DarkCloud
This should be required reading for anyone who wants to know what civilization is all about. Everyone with any intellectual honesty should read every word that John Zerzan writes. Read morePublished on September 11, 2009 by lit crit
Overall, this was a very interesting, enjoyable book. I was exposed to quite a few concepts that I had never considered before, and feel that reading it was time well spent.Published on April 13, 2009 by Jesse Taylor
Running On Emptiness is a collection of anarcho-primitivist author Zerzan's essays from recent years ('90s and later) as well as a pun on the title of a Jackson Browne song. Read morePublished on November 23, 2008 by Amazon Customer