“My book recommendation is The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche. It is not so much a book but a collection of Nietzsche’s working notes. However, perhaps because unrefined, it is as least as powerful as any of Nietzsche’s more finished works. Nietzsche just scraped into the twentieth century, albeit in a vegetative state, thereby becoming its greatest analyst—a counterpart, in the domain of thinking, of Kafka in the domain of feelings. The Will to Power is a challenge not to agree, but to see and understand. If, as we must, we want to change the world then we have to understand it, in a benign and not just a random way, and Nietzsche is a brilliant guide. If we don’t understand the world, then we risk making things still worse, as so many well-intentioned people have done before us. ‘They meant well’ is no longer good enough, given the horrors facing us all, and the lives already lost.”
Roc Sandford is a trustee of Mathematical Sciences UK and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, is a writer, artist and organic farmer who lives off-grid on the Hebridean Island of Gometra. A founder member of the Archipelago Forum, Roc has campaigned successfully against the damaging consequences of salmon farming and to reform salmon aquaculture. They have been involved with Extinction Rebellion since inception and helped start Extinction Rebellion’s Catalyser program of dialogue with people in places of power, and the campaign group Ocean Rebellion.
Book List of the Month: Green Ideas
The new Green Ideas series is a welcome initiative from Penguin Classics. The series presents twenty books from 75 years of writing about the environment. Here they are:
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514573
No one is too small to make a difference by Greta Thunberg
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference collects Greta Thunberg’s speeches, from addresses at climate rallies around the world, audiences at the UN, the World Economic Forum, and the British Parliament.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141996882
Hot Money by Naomi Klein
In Hot Money Naomi Klein lays out the evidence that deregulated capitalism is waging war on the climate, and argues that in order to stop the damage, we must change everything we think about how our world is run.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141997001
All Art is Ecological by Timothy Morton
All Art is Ecological explores the strangeness of living in an age of mass extinction and shows us that emotions and experience are the basis for a deep philosophical engagement with ecology.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514634
This Can’t be Happening by George Monbiot
In This Can’t Be Happening, George Monbiot calls on humanity to stop averting its gaze from the destruction of the living planet, and wake up to the greatest predicament we have ever faced.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514412
An Idea Can Go Extinct by Bill McKibben
An Idea Can Go Extinct is Bill McKibben’s account of how, by changing the earth’s entire atmosphere, the weather and the most basic forces around us, ‘we are ending nature.’
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141996905
Improbable Events by Amitav Ghosh
In this personal and wide-ranging exploration of how our collective imaginations fail to grasp the scale of environmental destruction, Amitav Ghosh summons writers and novelists to confront the most urgent story of our times.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141997049
The Democracy of Species by Robin Wall Kimmerer
In The Democracy of Species Robin Wall Kimmerer guides us towards a more reciprocal, grateful and joyful relationship with our animate earth, from the wild leeks in the field to the deer in the woods.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514658
What I Stand For is What I Stand On by Wendell Berry
From the ravages of the global economy to the pleasures of growing a garden, Wendell Berry’s essays represent a heartfelt call for humankind to mend our broken relationship with the earth, and with each other.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514436
A Warning From The Golden Toad by Tim Flannery
Taking us on a journey into the past and around the globe, from coral reefs to the North Pole, deserts to rainforests, Tim Flannery’s A Warning from the Golden Toad tells the story of the earth’s climate, and how we have changed it.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514580
The Clan of One-Breasted Women by Terry Tempest Williams
With honesty, passion and heart, Terry Tempest Williams’s essays explore the impact of nuclear testing, the vital importance of environmental legislation, and the guiding spirit of conservation.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514580
Food Rules by Michael Pollan
Food Rules, Michael Pollan’s wise and witty critique of the western industrialised diet, distils the wisdom of history and traditional cultures to three simple rules: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514597
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514580
The Most Dammed Country in the World by Dai Qíng
The courageous, unflinching speeches and writings collected in The Most Dammed Country in the World detail the devastating human and environmental cost of China’s economic rise.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141996936
The World We Once Lived In by Wangari Maathai
From the Congo Basin to the traditions of the Kikuyu people, the lucid, incisive writings in The World We Once Lived In explore the sacred power of trees, and why humans lay waste to the forests that keep us alive.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141997063
The Last Tree on Easter Island by Jared Diamond
This is Jared Diamond’s haunting account of visiting the mysterious stone statues of Easter Island, showing how a remote civilization destroyed itself by exploiting its own natural resources – and why we must heed this warning.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514559
Every Species is a Masterpiece by Edward O. Wilson
Every Species is a Masterpiece brings together some of Edward O. Wilson’s most profound and significant writings on the rich diversity of life on Earth, our place in it, and our obligation to conserve the planet’s fragile ecosystems.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514641
We Belong to Gaia by James Lovelock
James Lovelock’s We Belong to Gaia draws on decades of wisdom to lay out the history of our remarkable planet, to show that it is not ours to be exploited – and warns us that it is fighting back.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780141996950
The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah by Masanobu Fukuoka
In The Dragonfly Will Be the Messiah, the celebrated pioneer of the ‘do-nothing’ farming method reflects on global ecological trauma and argues that we must radically transform our understanding of both nature and ourselves in order to have any chance of healing.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514610
There is No Point of No Return by Arne Naess
Emphasizing joy in the world, human cooperation and the value of all living things, this selection of Arne Naess’ philosophical writings is filled with wit, learning and an intense connection with nature.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514450
Man’s War Against Nature by Rachel Carson
With the precision of a scientist and the simplicity of a fable, Rachel Carson reveals how man-made pesticides have destroyed wildlife, creating a world of polluted streams and silent songbirds.
Penguin Classics ISBN: 9780241514665
Think Like A Mountain by Aldo Leopold
In this lyrical meditation on America’s wildlands, Aldo Leopold considers the different ways humans shape the natural landscape, and describes for the first time the far-reaching phenomenon now known as ‘trophic cascades’.
Poem of the Month
Letter to Noah’s Wife by Maya C. Popa
You are never mentioned on Ararat
or elsewhere, but I know a woman’s hand
in salvation when I see it. Lately,
I’m torn between despair and ignorance.
I’m not a vegetarian, shop plastic,
use an air conditioner. Is this what happens
before it all goes fluvial? Do the selfish
grow self-conscious by the withering
begonias? Lately, I worry every black dress
will have to be worn to a funeral.
New York a bouillon, eroded filigree.
Anything but illness, I beg the plagues,
but shiny crows or nuclear rain.
Not a drop in London May through June.
I bask in the wilt by golden hour light.
Lately, only lately, it is late. Tucking
our families into the safeties of the past.
My children, will they exist by the time
it’s irreversible? Will they live
astonished at the thought of ice
not pulled from the mouth of a machine?
Which parent will be the one to break
the myth; the Arctic wasn’t Sisyphus’s
snowy hill. Noah’s wife, I am wringing
my hands not knowing how to know
and move forward. Was it you
who gathered flowers once the earth
had dried? How did you explain the light
to all the animals?
Copyright © 2019 by Maya C. Popa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 30, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
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