In The Absence Of The Sacred

In The Absence Of The Sacred: The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations by Jerry ManderSierra Club Books, 1991 – 446 pages

It’s occurred to me, as it has to many others, that if I want to live more harmoniously, I might do well to learn more about the folk who peopled this land in relative peace for thousands of years. I’d read and liked Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television (a review for another day), but felt a little dubious when I saw In The Absence Of The Sacred. It looked like it might be some kind of misguided, backward-looking, native-romanticizing, technology-hating hippie trip, so I made a mental note and passed it by. But in light of the concern above, I wondered if the book might be more relevant than I’d realized – and it is. The two main points of the book are: 1. Our society needs to slow down and view new technologies much more skeptically, debating their potential extensively before they embed themselves in our lives, and 2. Our society could learn much of value from traditional tribal and subsistence-oriented peoples. Though I found some of the ideas in the book difficult to accept, I unfortunately also found them hard to argue with. Continue reading

Before Sleep 053

Before Sleep #053

I realize that it probably looks like some kind of drug action going on in the middle panel, but that being is in fact playing a slide whistle with tubing added. It’s something I saw in a book about homemade instruments – you add a stick to mark notes on, and the tubing so you can rest it on your lap and actually see the notes you’ve marked. The author claimed he thought the slide whistle was one of the most beautiful instruments when properly played. Anyway, between the unfamiliarity of that idea and the sketchy drawing, no one can actually tell that’s what it is.

Cutting Your Car Use

Cutting Your Car Use by Randall Ghent with Anna Semlyen
2006 – 5″ x 7″ – 116 pgs – US $9.95
New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
(There was a website that went with the book which seems to be gone now – www.cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk, for the original British version by Semlyen alone, is still around.)

I picked up this book in San Francisco last year. I guess I probably first realized I might ultimately want to stop owning a car when I was in college (pre-2000). I didn’t have a car there, so I walked a lot and used the campus shuttle sometimes – and it was around this time that I learned you don’t really need a car if you live in a city. Sometime in the year before my trip to San Francisco, I’d been introsuced to the concept of Peak Oil and it’s uncomfortable nearness. Mostly that just paralyzed my brain with horror; I think of this book as marking my first step toward actually doing something to live more sustainably. It’s not a mind-blowing book, and it didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know (nor did I expect it to), but it’s a nice little book, full of tips, facts, lists, testimonials, and cartoon illustrations (by Axel Scheffler). I suppose one way to go about changing your habits is to foucs on one area at a time; if you choose to focus on transportation, than this can be a handy little book (it introduced me to the concept of folding bikes, which is a whole other story). You might also have a look at the website cuttingyourcaruse.com.

Another book I’ve only flipped through in the bookstore but looks pretty good is How To Live Well Without A Car by Chris Balish. It’s another small book with cartoon illustrations, but seems to have more prose than lists, which I like. Another book I haven’t read but would like to is Divorce Your Car! by Katie Alvord. in addition to practical advice on living car-free, she offers a history of how we became so car-dependent. A book that I have read which covers that history in depth in Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States by Kenneth T. Jackson.

[formerly at http://www.colintedford.com/downpower/2007/11/28/cutting-your-car-use/]