of the Mind: How Desolate and Forbidding Heights Were Transformed into
Experiences of Indomitable Spirit by
(Pantheon) Three centuries ago, mountains
were considered forbidding and forbiddenthe abodes of dragons and other
ill-tempered grotesque beasts. Mountains
of the Mind tells us that "Until
well into the 1700s, travelers who had to cross the Alpine passes often chose to
be blindfolded." Mountains were once seen as giant souvenirs of
with the growing recognition that the Earths surface had not been created
once and for all but was slowly evolving, mountains came to be seen as the
unexplored text of the Earths storya terrain that scientists, adventurers,
naturalists, and, travelers began to explore; eventually they came to be a way
to look into deep time Recognized as "the great stone book" of
history, mountains opened a window, a glimpse of eternity. and so our
imaginations were shaped and shifted as time marched on.
Robert Macfarlane, a skilled writer, a Brit, a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, clearly fascinated with his subject, blends cultural history, meditation, and memoir to show how early geologists helped transform our perceptions of the wild, chaotic landscapes; how the allure of height increasingly drew fearless climbers, culminating in the romantic figure of George Mallory, the passionate Englishman who died on Mount Everest in 1924; and how the elemental beauty of snow and ice coalesced into an aesthetic of the sublime.At once an enthralling work of history, an intimate account of Macfarlanes own experiences, Mountains of the Mind is an idiosyncratic, beautifully written rumination on how memory, landscape, imagination, and the landscape of mountains are joined together in our minds and under our feet.
by Dorling Kindersley Publishing (Eyewitness Books: DK Publishing) Discover
the incredible secrets of the Universe,
from its furthest galaxies to our own solar system. With over 50 million copies
sold in 88 countries and in 36 languages, Eyewitness Books are truly the
ultimate visual information encyclopedias for the 21st Century. Carrying on the
tradition of integrating words and pictures, this new title, Universe
is a timely addition to any library. Children will find this well illustrated
work an imagination sparking introduction to the wonders of cosmology and
astronomy and the solar system.
A Companion to Environmental Philosophy edited by Dale Jamieson (Blackwell) is a pioneering work in the burgeoning field of environmental philosophy. This pioneering volume contains 36 original articles exemplifying the rich diversity of scholarship in this field. The volume begins by exploring environmental philosophy and the cultural traditions from which it springs. After discussing its roots, and then looking at contemporary environmental ethics, environmental philosophy is brought into conversation with other fields and disciplines such as literature, economics, ecology, and law. The last section focuses on the environmental problems that stimulate current debates. A Companion to Environmental Philosophy is an indispensable reference book for students and researchers in environmental philosophy. It will be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in environmental affairs.
Editor Description: Dale Jamieson is Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and Vice President/President-Elect of the International Society for Environmental Ethics. He is the editor of Singer and His Critics (Blackwell, 1999), Readings in Animal Cognition (1996) and Reflecting on Nature: Readings in Environmental Philosophy (1994).
Contents: List of Contributors. Preface. Part I: Cultural Traditions: 1. Indigenous Perspectives: Laurie Anne Whitt (Michigan Technological University), Mere Roberts (University of Auckland), Waerete Norman (University of Auckland), and Vicki Greives (Macquarie University). 2. Classical China: Karyn Lai (University of New South Wales). 3. Classical India: O. P. Dwivedi (University of Guelph). 4. Jainism and Buddhism: Christopher Key Chapple (Loyola Marymount University). 5. The Classical Greek Tradition: Gabriella Carone (University of Colorado At Boulder). 6. Judaism: Eric Katz (New Jersey Institute of Technology). 7. Christianity: Robin Attfield (Cardiff University). 8. Islam: S. Nomanul Haq (Rutgers University). 9. Early Modern Philosophy: Charles Taliaferro (St. Olaf College). 10. Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Philosophy: Andrew Brennan (The University of Western Australia). Part II. Contemporary Environmental Ethics: 11. Meta-Ethics: John O'Neill (Lancaster University). 12. Normative Ethics: Robert Elliot (University of The Sunshine Coast). 13. Sentientism: Gary Varner (Texas A&M University). 14. The Land Ethic: J. Baird Callicott (University of North Texas). 15. Deep Ecology: Freya Matthews (La Trobe University). 16. Ecofeminism: Victoria Davion (University of Georgia). Part III: Environmental Philosophy and Its Neighbors: 17. Literature: Scott Slovic (University of Nevada, Reno). 18. Aesthetics: John Andrew Fisher (University of Colorado At Boulder). 19. Economics: A. Myrick Freeman III (Bowdoin College). 20. History: Ian Simmons (University of Durham). 21. Ecology: Kristin Shrader-Frechette (University of Notre Dame). 22. Politics: Robyn Eckersley (Monash University). 23. Law: Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University). Part IV: Problems In Environmental Philosophy: 24. Wilderness: Mark Woods (University of San Diego). 25. Population: Clark Wolf (University of Georgia). 26. Future Generations: Ernest Partridge (University of California, Riverside). 27. Sustainability: Alan Holland (Lancaster University). 28. Biodiversity: Holmes Rolston, III (Colorado State University). 29. Animals: Peter Singer (Princeton University). 30. Environmental Justice: Robert Figueroa and Claudia Mills (Colgate University and University of Colorado At Boulder). 31. Technology: Lori Gruen (Stanford University). 32 Climate: Henry Shue (Cornell University). 33. Land and Water: Paul B. Thompson ( Purdue University). 34. Consumption: Mark Sagoff (Institute For Philosophy and Publc Policy). 35. Colonization: Keekok Lee (University of Lancaster). 36. Civil Disobedience: Ned Hettinger (College of Charleston). Index.
The late French director, Francois Truffaut, once said that every time he begins a project he hopes that it will turn out to be the best film ever made; halfway through, he wants only to finish the movie with his sanity intact. For me, commissioning and editing 36 new essays in environmental philosophy was a little like that. However, I still harbor the hope that this is the best single volume collection on the subject that is currently available.
The first environmental philosophy courses were offered in the 1970s, and over the last two decades they have steadily proliferated. Nearly every university and college in North America, Britain, and Australia now offers at least one class in environmental philosophy. Through most of the 1980s good materials were hard to find for use in these courses but in the last three years more than a half dozen new environmental philosophy anthologies have been published. Several of these anthologies are excellent, but since they mainly reprint articles published in professional journals they are fundamentally different from this book.
After an anarchic quarter century, environmental philosophy has yet to become fully defined as a field. Indeed, it probably has more than its share of divisions and academic infighting. My purpose in editing this volume is both to present a snapshot of the field as it currently exists, and to contribute to consolidating the field. I have been guided by the following principles. First, I have tried to be as inclusive as possible, presenting the rich diversity of work characteristic of this field. Second, I have tried to bring environmental philosophy into conversation with other fields and disciplines such as economics, ecology, and law. Third, I have been concerned to connect environmental philosophy to the cultural traditions from which it springs. Fourth, I have tried to keep a firm focus on the environmental problems that motivate the enterprise in the first place. Finally, without neglecting my editorial responsibilities, I have tried to let the contributors speak in their own voices to the greatest extent possible. My hope is that this book will be used as a primary text in courses on environmental philosophy, as a secondary text for courses in related fields, and as a reference book for those who are working on related topics. Most of all I hope that this volume finds its way into the hands of readers who simply want to learn something about the subject.
Dust Bowl, USA: Depression America and the Ecological Imagination, 1929-1941by Brad D. Lookingbill (Ohio University Press) is an engaging and moving narrative of the region. It also contains an excellent bibliography and presents a synthesis of firsthand accounts of the Dust Bowl crisis in the 1930s from books, newspapers, photographs, films, and popular songs. Beginning with "conquest" of the land, the six chapters track the progression of the affective interface between humans and the Great Plains environment in light of the dust storms and related social and economic crises during the Great Depression.
Encountering the Past in Nature: Essays in Environmental History edited by Timo Myllyntaus, Mikko Saikku, Alfred W. Crosby (Series in Ecology and History: Ohio University Press) a collection of essays in environmental history by a group of Finnish scholars, was first released by the Helsinki University Press in 1999. This new edition provides a provocative and eclectic set of six readings that is suitable for adoption in both world history and global environmental history courses.
Three essays deal with change over time in forested zones, in different parts of the Northern Hemisphere and in different historical periods‑the northernmost forests of the European taiga, from the Stone Age to the present; the subtropical lowlands of North America in the period c. 1600‑c. 1940; and the wet tropics of mainland Southeast Asia, c.1950 to the present. The other essays address topics in historiography and intellectual history‑the evolution of historical writing about the environment in Finland and the United States; the contradictory concepts about the natural world that inform Western thinking about "nature"; and the role that the idea of the environment can play as an explanatory factor in human history. There are essays in "big history" here, as well as challenging case studies.
Encountering the Past in Nature provides instructive examples of how environmental historians are working with a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches to shed light on the complex ecological processes of the past. Environmental historians are forging new perspectives by integrating data and insights from both the natural and social sciences in order to write environmentally informed history that speaks to our present‑day concerns.It may well be that no one of us can grasp the full complexity of the historical and present‑day transformations in global ecology. However, contemporary environmental history scholarship, pushed by the ecological imperatives of the early twenty‑first century, is leading us to seek in that direction.
RECLAIMING THE NATIVE HOME OF HOPE: Community, Ecology and the American West edited by Robert B. Keiter and Page Stegner ($17.95, paperback, 192 pages, University of Utah Press; ISBN: 0874805589) "However one thinks about the territory that lies between the front range of the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges," writes Page Stegner in the Introduction to this volume, "there is a remarkable longevity to the problems that plague it and to the issues that divide its citizenry. . . ." Yet in spite of this historical suspicion and fractiousness, there is in the West an emerging ecological sensitivity and hope for understanding, cooperation, and interdisciplinary collaboration among an increasing number of its citizens--developments that are in many ways exemplified by this volume.
This collection of 18 essays from two symposia at the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources, and the Environment of the University of Utah's School of Law will appeal those with a strong interest in the environment and the West. Contributors are federal and state government technicians; academics in history, law, and science; activists; and writers including Stegner's son Page , and essays by two of Stegner's literary heirs--William Kittredge and Terry Tempest Williams.
The essays topics include the search for an effective "ethic of place" for the West; recognizing the need to integrate people and ecosystems; restoration of land and wildlife; sustainability on the Colorado plateau; efforts to restore wolves and grizzly bears in the northern Rockies; and livestock raising in the Great Basin. Because the West contains most of the U.S. open land, it is inevitably the center of conflict on critical environmental issues; these essays hint some westerners are moving beyond stale ideological dichotomies to seek new forms of practical environmental consensus.
This volume represents an edited compilation of symposium presentations and reflects the Stegner Center's commitment to promoting better understanding and dialogue among those concerned with the West's future. Drawing upon Wallace Stegner's writings for inspiration and insight, the essays [in this collection] explore critical issues that confront Westerners today. Stegner's timeless observations on community, place, geography, and wildness provide the unifying themes, which are examined from a contemporary perspective. While the West is clearly experiencing significant change, Stegner's work affords a firm basis for comprehending the past and anticipating the future.
Representing such diverse disciplines as literature, history, science, economics, law, and policy, the authors bring their talent and personal experience to bear on today's West. Through this interdisciplinary exploration, the volume presents thought-provoking ideas on how to surmount the West's persistent conflicts to achieve the unitary society that Stegner envisioned--one that matches its scenery. The hope is that the collective ideas will serve as a catalyst in stimulating public dialogue and understanding of the complex issues now confronting the West.
THE SCENTS OF EDEN by Charles Corn ($27.00, hardcover, 352 pages, Kodansha, ISBN: 1568362021) Clothed in mystery and lost in uncharted seas, the Spice Islands of the early sixteenth century tantalized European imagination to the point of obsession. Nestled in the waters of the eastern Malay Archipelago, these legendary islands (also known as the Moluccas) were once thought to be the site of the Garden of Eden. As the only place on Earth where grew the "holy trinity" of spicescloves, nutmeg, and mace these minuscule islands quickly became a wellspring of international intrigue and personal fortune, occasioning the rise and fall of nations across the globe. It is the history of these islands, their mystique, and their impact on a growing world economy, that is the fascinating bounty of THE SCENTS OF EDEN.
Long coveted for their scents and tastes but most importantly for their preservative qualities, spices were first made available in Europe only by Arab traders. Increasing in value each time they changed hands, the spices sold at extortionate prices, and the islands soon became the focal point of Western interest and control. In 1511 the Portuguese set off for the islands, resolving to annex the Moluccas to their extended empire, in defiance of Spains similar claim. England and Holland soon joined the hunt, each nation vying for control of the spice trade with its own East India Company. Later, after the American Revolution, traders out of Massachusetts entered the fray, and the spice trade produced the young republics first millionaires.
THE SCENTS OF EDEN regales us with memorable tales of corrupt European adventurers and enigmatic island rulers; with explosive battles fought between islanders, explorers, and pirates; with deadly sea voyages and with some of the most colorful characters in history. It brings to life men like Ferdinand MaRellan, who in 1519 embarked would shrink the world; Jan Pieterzsoon Coen, the ruthless, cruel governor-general of the Dutch East Indies, who ordered a wholesale slaughter of islanders to maintain Hollands spice monopoly; Pierre Poivre, the French smuggler of clove and nutmeg seedlings whose acts altered the balance of power of European nations; and erect, blue jacketed Jonathan Carnes, the Yankee trader who in 1797 brought the first great wealth to a modest New England port.
Drawn from first person accounts and contemporary books and journals, THE SCENTS OF EDEN spans four centuries, weaving an intricate story set on a global stage. Arrayed with famous and obscure, noble and venal players alike, the narrative is a fascinating story and a magnificent epic.
THE OTHERS: How Animals Made Us Human by Paul Shepard 390 pages, illustrations, index
Paper: $17.95 Island Press ISBN 1-55963-434-0
Cloth: $24.95 ISBN 1-55963-433-2
TRACES OF AN OMNIVORE
by Paul Shepard
Shearwater Books/Island Press
Hardcover: $24.95, 255 pages, index
Paul Shepard was a pioneer in the fields of deep ecology and environmental philosophy. He was the first person to hold a university chair in human ecology, a field that he helped define. His thought-provoking ideas on the role of animals in human thought, dreams, personal identity, and other psychological and religious connotations have been presented in a series of seminal writings, including Thinking Animals and The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game. Shepard has transformed nature philosophy. His books have consistently won critical praise and influenced two generations of countless writers, scientists, and conservationists. Barry Lopez noted the "freshness and angry brilliance" of Shepards writing, and Gary Snyder, in his recently published OPUS Rivers and Mountains Without End Rivers and Mountains Without End, dedicated the poem "Old Bones" to Shepard.
Throughout his career, Paul Shepard addressed the most fundamental question of life: Who are we? His overarching vision derived from two facts: First, that our genetic heritage, formed by three million years of hunting and gathering, remains essentially unchanged. Shepard argued that this, "our wild Pleistocene genome," influences everything from human neurology and ontogeny to our pathologies, social structure, myths, and cosmology.
Second, contact with animals and nature becomes a necessary ingredient of normal human development, and a basis for individual and environmental maturity.
In THE OTHERS: How Animals Made Us Human, Shepard draws upon the fields of anthropology, evolution, philosophy, and zoology to present a radical reexamination of our relationships to animals.
Shepard considers animals as "others" in a world where otherness of all kinds is in danger and in which otherness is essential to the discovery of our true selves. As he writes, "the human species emerged enacting, dreaming, and thinking animals, and cannot be fully itself without them."
Beginning with the fundamental relationship of eating and being eaten, Shepard considers animal words and concepts in language, folklore, fairy tales, games, poetry, and art. The permutations and symbolic transformations from man to beast in dreams, ritual, literature, and myth are noted as are how hearing and mimicking the natural world gave us our "ear" and influenced our dancing, singing, and music. The use of real and symbolic animal figures in religious imagery is shown to be pivotal to our formation of identity and meaning.
Among his examples from throughout history and cultures, we learn that the Ainu of the Hokkaido island of Japan named their physical ailments after various animals. We contemplate the place of Teddy, Pooh, Paddington, Yogi, and Smokey Bear in popular culture. We consider why we eat "beef" rather than "steer" and "venison" rather than "deer." Shepard also examines contentious issues, such as animal domestication and animal rights, showing a balanced appreciation of them though with a wry wink at some of their arguments.
The OTHERS is a book that will influence our thinking about the natural and animal context of human nature for decades to come, as we come to understand more fully that we need animals and wild nature to be fully human.
TRACES OF AN OMNIVORE finds Shepard exploring topics as varied as aesthetics, hunting, perception, agriculture, history, animal rights and domestication, postmodern Reconstruction, tourism, vegetarianism, and the Hudson River school of painters.
In a series of essays Shepard pays homage to his intellectual mentors: Aldo Leopold; Ortega y Gasset; Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, Erik Erikson; Martin Heidegger; Edith Cobb, and Claude Levi-Strauss.
Shepards elephantine wit informs the satirical "Letter from an Old Crow," in which a crow describes human nature and the efforts by him and his fellow crows to transform human society, or, as he writes "to give wings, so to speak, to their pedestrian society."
In "Bears and People," Shepards sure-handed ability to synthesize information from across intellectual boundaries come through. "The bear lives in our urban hive as a teddy, a family in Goldilocks, Smokey, or just an athletic team Like us, the bear stands upright on the whole foot, eyes nearly in a f frontal plane, so that we look into a true face . He sits up like a child or slouches like an adolescent, worries, moans, sighs, courts with demonstrable affection, snores, spanks the offspring, loves sweets, and has a distinct moody, gruff, or morose side."
This volume services as an admirable introduction to this seminal thinker and writer. This collection contains previously unpublished or difficult-to-find writings that serve to further his reputation as one of our most important environmental thinkers and writers.
Until his death in July, 1996, Paul Shepard was Avery Professor of Human Ecology Emeritus at Pitzer College and the Claremont Graduate School.
Shepards work in landscape perception and human ecology spanned more than forty years. A native of Missouri and graduate of the University of Missouri, he received his Ph.D. at Yale University where he studied the relationship of ecology and art in American culture. He was a member of the Advisory Board of Landscape and Urban Planning, a National Lecturer for Sigma Xi, a Distinguished Lecturer for the Fulbright Program in India, and a Fellow of the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations.
His books include Thinking Animals: Animals in the Development of Human Intelligence (Viking, 1978); The Sacred Paw: The Bear in Nature, Myth and Literature (Viking Penguin, 1985); and Nature and Madness. In June 1995 his pioneering influence on the field of human ecology was recognized in The Company of Others: Essays in Celebration of Paul Shepard, edited by Max Oelschlaeger (Kivaki Press). In June 1996, Sierra Club Books published a collection of his writings entitled, The Only World Weve Got: A Paul Shepard Reader.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMAGINATION
Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture
by Lawrence Buell
Harvard University Press
$35.50, cloth; 586 pages, notes, bibliography, index
Using the American classic Walden as a touchstone for literary depictions of the meaning of nature in the American mind. Buell puts our current environmental crises into the context of the imaginative encounter of humans and the natural world. As such Buell manages to raise plenty of disturbing questions about the poverty of the literary imagination, as well as, to construct the links that hold together important writers as Crevecoeur, Wendell Berry, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Mary Austin, Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, and Leslie Silko. Recurrent themes, such as dreams of abandonment, personification of animals and nature, celebration of natural cycles, devotion to place and seasons, and the foreboding of catastrophe are brought into play in the tradition of imagining nature and human nature against the backdrop of nature.
by Henry David Thoreau
introduction and annotations by Bill McKibben
$17.00, cloth, 312 pages
WALDEN is too well known and beloved, even if not thoroughly read to require additional words of cajolery from us. McKibbens annotations offer better homage and useful orientation to the work. It will make an excellent gift. McKibbens Age of Missing Information represents a primary challenge to cyberspace development. What would you learn if you taped every channel coming into your TV for 24 hours from your cable system. Then review and compare the 2000 hours of video tape to 24 hours of camping on a mountaintop near a pond. What will each one teach us? Bill McKibben does an excellent job of capturing what the real impact is on our thoughts when we watch television. I was impressed by the questions he raised and feel this is an important book.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
The Maine Woods
edited and annotated by Robert F. Sayre
The Library of America
$30.00, cloth, 1114 pages, notes on text, chronology, index
This edition by far is the best general edition of WALDEN if for no other reason than it puts
Thoreaus literary effort into perspective of his other writings.
THE VALUE OF LIFE:
Biological Diversity and Human Society
by Stephen Kellert
280 pages figures, tables, index
Cloth: $27.50 ISBN: 1-55963-317-4
Paper: $16.95 ISBN: 1-55963-318-2
One of the more discussed topics these days are values family values, societal values, and educational values. Few have considered in-depth how our values are an outgrowth of our relation to nature, especially wildlife and its beneficent impact upon our own survival.
Stephen Kellerts THE VALUE OF LIFE pinpoints the basic values of peoples various needs to associate with nature. Kellert identifies nine basic values as inherent tendencies, integral to being fully human, and considers the large scale loss of species on earth as a threat to our optimal quality of physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. THE VALUE OF LIFE examines the relationships among diverse age, gender, education, socioeconomic, geographic, and ethnic groups as they are in relation to different human-animal activities and in response to varying species among differing cultures.
After delineating these relationships, Kellert analyzes their impact on current ecological problems and applies them to current policy issues, such as the conservation and protection of endangered species and biodiversity.
He argues that humans must not allow issues such as property rights and economic development to supersede their fundamental need to affiliate with nature. Rather, he encourages us to celebrate our dependence on nature and living diversity in the quest to achieve a richer, varied, and more complete existence.
Kellerts twenty years of research shows that the relationship between humans and nature involves biologically-based, inherent human tendencies, greatly influenced by culture, learning, and experience. Other important titles: The Biophilia Hypothesis, and Ecology, Economics, Ethics : The Broken Circle.
HOW TO IDENTIFY PLANTS
By H.D. Harrington
illustrated by L.W. Durrell
Ohio University Press
$11.95, paper, 207 pages, illustrations
HOW TO IDENTIFY GRASSES AND GRASSLIKE PLANTS
By H.D. Harrington
illustrated by Ann Steely, Robin Hause, and Janet Klein
Ohio University Press
$11.95, paper, 154 pages, illustrations
Two classic, illustrated guidebooks to the art and science of plant and grass identification have been republished in new formats by Swallow Press / Ohio University Press.
First issued in 1957 by Swallow Press, HOW TO IDENTIFY PLANTS, by H.D. Harrington, is familiar to a generation of students as a clear and carefully organized reference book. Harrington, who was Professor of Botany and Curator of the Herbarium at Colorado State University, gives step-by-step instructions and definitions to help readers recognize and classify plants. The new printing has been reset and reformatted, and L.W. Durrell's drawings and illustrated glossarymore than 500 imageshave been digitally enhanced for clarity.
First published in 1977 by Swallow Press, HOW TO IDENTIFY GRASSES AND GRASSLIKE PLANTS is Harrington's primer on the difficult art of identifying grasses, sedges, and rushes. Having watched the pitfalls of thousands of students as they struggled and learned, Harrington wrote a clear, concise text that has been indispensable in the classroom and the field. Now reset and digitally enhanced, with more than 500 drawings, Harrington's aim of producing a book of "practical assistance" has been realized fully.
The Invisible World of Insects
Claude Nuridsany & Marie Prennou
Stewart Tabori & Chang
$35.00, 160 pages, 300 full color photographs
A Companion volume to the award-winning full-length feature film MICROCOMOS an official selection at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, this attractive book offers a rare glimpse into the fascinating world of insects. Though infinitesimal in size it is a universe unto its own with vast frontiers virtually unknown to the naked eye. Through the wonders of macrophotography creators Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou reveal the wonders and magic that can be found in our own backyard where a groomed plot of grass is transformed into wild jungle inhabited by spectacular and unusual creatures. Suddenly the minute take on mythic proportions.
Packed with over 90 full-color photographs and cinematic sequences, as well as five insightful chapters and an additional chapter on the creation of the film MICROCOMOS is sure to captivate and delight.
OTHER CREATIONS: Rediscovering the Spirituality of Animals by Christopher Manes
$22.95, hardcover, 240 pages, notes, bibliography, index
Is Mickey Mouse just a modern-day cave painting? Are teddy bears really forgotten objects of religious devotion? What are the similarities between Michael Jordan and a Native American shaman?
Though animistic religions may seem to be an irrelevant quirky phenomenon of our distant primitive past, a quick look at popular culture reveals that this ancient history endures as a vibrant part of the present. Consider cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, superheroes Batman and Robin, sports teams such as the Chicago Bulls, the Gund stuffed animal empire, television series such as PBS's Nature, David Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks, tourist destinations like Sea World, bestselling books like The Hidden Life of Dogs and When Elephants Weep, the megabillion dollar pet industry, and blockbuster Hollywood movies such as The Lion King, Free Billy, and Jurassic Park. An objective observer could justifiably conclude that we remain obsessed with animals.
In OTHER CREATIONS, Christopher Manes looks at the history of our obsession, showing how the human relationship to the rest of the animal kingdom has been a dynamic religious force in every culture, in every age, and continues to be as important today in cultivating a rich spiritual life as it was among our ancestors.
We live, however, in a state of semi-denial about the role animals play in religious history. A Saint Bernard, despite its name and however much we love dogs, is not exactly welcome in church. Neither is any dog, cat, sheep, bovine, terrapin, or bird. This prohibition stands as a metaphor for how modern religions have banished the animal kingdom from their rituals and discourse, so much so that the animal and the spiritual are now thought of as polar opposites.
Yet just beneath the surface of our abstract religious traditions lies a lush panoply of animal archetypes, a spiritual bestiary in which Satan appears as a serpent, Jesus is the Lamb of God, and the Holy Spirit is a dove. Our cathedrals teem with stone eagles, stags, and other symbolic fauna. Our deepest moral ideas find expression through animal stories like Aesop's fables, the Buddhist Jataka, and Orwell's Animal Farm. At the prehistoric heart of humanity's attempts to articulate spiritual sentiments, we enter the caves of Lascaux to see images not of white-robed deities, but of the giant beasts of the Ice Age.
Christopher Manes's thought-provoking OTHER CREATIONS uncovers this tradition as it flourished in the past and as it lives on today. In this fascinating study, unlike any yet published, Manes shows how animals embodied our first attempts to express the mysteries of faith, and how they continue to do so today. He explores the disturbing question of how our spiritual lives will fare in a culture that increasingly displaces real animals with mere images, where the spectacle of nature films and zoos is replacing the actual contact with animals especially wild animals that once formed the core of our religious sense. Drawing on both his literary scholarship and his personal search for a deeper experience of spirituality, Manes demonstrates that animals do not simply decorate our religious lives; they are part of the very texture of human spirituality.
Christopher Manes is the author of Green Rage, a book about the radical environmental movement, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Award in science. He is a Ph.D. candidate in medieval literature at the University of Oregon, and a former Fulbright scholar in Iceland, where he studied Old Norse literature. He is also an attorney with a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. His many articles on environmental philosophy have been widely anthologized, and have had a growing influence on the interdisciplinary study of religion and environmentalism.
Copyright Last modified: January 24, 2016
insert content here